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Global Trade Bureau

A guide to moving goods to, from and through Northern Ireland

When you’re running an international business, the smooth transition of your goods into the UK couldn’t be more important. Your goods not only need to arrive, they must arrive without delay, with the right amount of duty paid and, with the correct completion and filing of a customs declaration. At the end of the transition period, we expect to see a significant increase in the volume of customs declarations being processed per year. And, with a spotlight on corporate governance, it’s more important than ever that you know your process inside out.

Guide Overview

The UK’s departure from the EU will herald the biggest change to the UK’s customs landscape in a generation. Many businesses that have previously not needed to know about importing, exporting and tariffs will need to become specialists. Furthermore, businesses will need to be aware of the unique trading arrangements in respect of goods moving to, from and through Northern Ireland.

The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (“the Protocol”) is part of the Withdrawal Agreement already agreed between the UK and the EU. The Protocol applies from 1 January 2021 irrespective of whether or not the UK and the EU agree a Free Trade Agreement.

The Protocol sets out the framework for the specific arrangements that will apply in respect of Northern Ireland to avoid imposing a border on the island of Ireland and to respect the Good Friday Agreement. The detailed operation is still being negotiated between the UK and the EU. So whilst there are some things we know, uncertainty remains in a number of areas.

This paper covers the key indirect tax considerations based on the Protocol itself and the approach to implementation set out by the UK (in its command paper and further guidance on moving goods) and the EU so far. References to Great Britain (GB) mean the UK except Northern Ireland (NI).

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