Northern Ireland Protocol

Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from January 2021 

What do businesses need to know? 

Since the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect on 1 January 2021 there have been changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Customs Declaration Service should now be used for declarations on the movements of goods to or from Northern Ireland, including goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system can still be used in some instances.

The Government has published guidance on the customs declaration completion requirements for the NI Protocol.

  • The Protocol includes some new administrative processes for traders. Notably, traders now need to adhere to new digital import declaration requirements, and digital safety and security information, for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK
  • The UK Government has established a new, free service, the Trader Support Service (TSS) which will provide an end-to-end service guiding traders through all import processes. Traders can also use the TSS to complete digital declarations at no additional cost
  • The new conformity assessment process changed on 1 January 2021 following the end of the transition period which means goods being placed on the Northern Irish market will require both the UKNI marking and the CE marking

What does my business need to do? 

HMRC support

HMRC has launched the UK Trader Scheme to support businesses moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Accompanying guidance on how to apply can be found on GOV.UK. If you are bringing goods into Northern Ireland which you know are not 'at risk' of moving to the EU, you can use the UK Trader Scheme to apply for authorisation and declare them so. This means EU duty will not be payable on those goods. 

Check if you can declare goods you bring into Northern Ireland as not 'at risk'

Information on the movement of goods since 1 January 2021 

From Northern Ireland to Great Britain 

Moving goods takes place exactly as it did previously - with no additional process paperwork or restrictions - except in very limited circumstances. These circumstances include international obligations or goods being held in duty-suspension i.e. endangered flora or fauna and excise goods such as alcohol or fuel products.

From Northern Ireland to and from Ireland

Trade in goods will continue unaffected, with no change at the border, no new paperwork, no tariffs and no regulatory checks.

From Northern Ireland to and from the rest of the world

Trading will continue broadly as it did previously. Northern Ireland benefits from current and future UK Free Trade Agreements, and the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) applies to imports, except in the case where goods are considered ‘at risk’  of moving to the EU.

From Great Britain to Northern Ireland

Goods are now subject to new declarations and may be subject to duties if considered ‘at risk’ of moving to the EU (including Ireland). Please remember this if you use a common sea route such the Cairnryan to Larne and Belfast routes.

Northern Ireland Transit Routes

Goods are now subject to specified 'transit' processes. 'Transit' can be used to move goods from the UK, via Ireland to Northern Ireland. This would mean they were 'in transit' whilst in Ireland. 'Transit' declarations would apply, and some traders would need to use sealed trucks.

Further guidance 

Frequently asked questions about trading with Northern Ireland including information about 'transit' and 'at risk' status can be found in our FAQs section. 

The Northern Ireland Customs & Trade Academy provides numerous resources including guides, checklists and webinars to support you in navigating your trading relationship with Northern Ireland.  

Prepare your business for Brexit 

Brexit Checklist

Brexit Transition Toolkit