Brexit Bites, 19 March 2021

Mar 18, 2021

This week’s Brexit Bites covers the unilateral extension of SPS checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and the legal action taken by the EU against the UK. We also bring you details of the response by HMRC to the Institute's letter on soft landing for Brexit VAT changes as well as the VAT treatment in Ireland where goods are Delivered Duty Paid.  

UK unilaterally extends SPS checks on goods moving from GB to NI until 1 October 2021

The grace period available to supermarkets and their trusted traders and suppliers was due to expire on 1 April 2021.  However, the UK announced earlier this month that it would be unilaterally extending the grace period for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until 1 October 2021.  Some paperwork is still required, however.

According to guidance released by the UK, during this grace period, shipments of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods do not need Export Health Certificates, phytosanitary certificates or marketing standards certification. 

SPS goods include products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed not of animal origin, and plants and plant products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  More information can be found here.   However, despite these changes traders do still need to: 

  • complete the declarations as required by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) / Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and submit your declarations via the Trader Support Service (if applicable)
  • register on the European Commission’s TRACES system before any movement of goods begins (which needs to be completed for each journey) at least 24 hours in advance of arrival at the port of departure.  Full details of how to register and what information is required can be found here

The European Commission has launched legal action against the UK over this move, saying it’s an infringement of the Withdrawal Agreement.

HMRC responds to Institute’s letter on soft landing for Brexit VAT changes

HMRC has responded to our recent letter regarding the need for a soft-landing in respect of VAT changes due to the UK’s exit from the EU. The response received confirms that HMRC has taken our points into account regarding its proposed approach to compliance with the new NI VAT regime in particular. The Institute continues to discuss tax and related EU issues with the Government and is happy to accept member’s feedback at any time. You can email us at

HMRC’s compliance approach will look different in some areas during the first phase, when HMRC will focus compliance activity on the areas of highest risk. Where HMRC finds non-compliance, it will be tailoring its response. HMRC will continue to respond firmly to evasion, fraud or other deliberate non-compliance.

As with GB-to-EU controls, HMRC will be focusing on high-risk traders and organised fraud. While doing this, HMRC will be building up a picture of compliance risk.

HMRC won’t be taking a punitive approach to traders who are trying to do the right thing but make a mistake. Instead, HMRC is aiming to provide support to get on the right footing so they can comply with their obligations for the future. However penalties will be charged if there is deliberate non-compliance.

Irish VAT and DDP terms of delivery

At a recent TALC meeting with Revenue, the Institute sought clarification of the VAT treatment when a UK business with an Irish VAT registration is exporting the goods from Great Britain to Ireland on Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) terms and selling to an Irish registered end-user. Revenue confirmed that there were two separate transactions for VAT:  Firstly, import Irish VAT and secondly domestic Irish VAT.

When the goods arrive in Ireland from Great Britain, the UK business will use its Irish VAT number in order to pay over the import VAT to get the goods into Ireland (unless they have availed of postponed accounting for import VAT).

When the business is supplying the goods to the VAT registered end user in Ireland, the business will charge Irish VAT at the appropriate rate and normal invoicing rules apply. The place of supply is Ireland as the goods are located in Ireland when the transfer of ownership of the goods takes place for VAT purposes.

Ireland: Temporary Import of horses

Revenue have issued guidance in relation to the temporary admission procedure for importing horses from outside the EU. Find further information in Temporary import and export of horses.

Next edition of Institute’s Brexit Digest

The Institute will be covering a range of Brexit related topics in the next edition of Brexit Digest which issues next week including all the latest updates from HMRC and Revenue as well as information on the Trader Support Service, the UK’s Trader Scheme and an update on the reimbursement scheme in the UK.