Customs and Trade under the new Agreement

Jan 13, 2021


Deciphering  the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Customs declarations were always set to become a reality for many businesses in Ireland and the UK on 1 January, and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement did not change that. The Northern Ireland Protocol also brings a new customs regime for businesses in Northern Ireland. The Agreement allows for tariff- and quota-free trade for goods originating in the UK or EU but there is no waiver on security and safety declarations. In addition to customs administration, changes to VAT rules also arise. Find out more about what this means for trade between Great Britain and the EU.

Great Britain (GB) has left the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, meaning GB no longer benefits from the free movement of goods within the EU.

Northern Ireland (NI) remains in the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union for trade in goods only. This means that trade between the EU (and the Republic of Ireland (ROI)) and NI remains largely unchanged. See for more information.

New trading rules have been introduced for trade from GB to NI to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

What does the Trade and Cooperation Agreement mean for trade between GB and EU?

Customs documentation

Since 1 January 2021 customs declarations are required for trade between GB and the EU (including NI).

This means that if goods move between GB and Ireland, and separately from GB into NI, customs paperwork must be prepared.   

When goods are imported or exported into or out of the EU, the goods must be classified for customs purposes. Find further information about classification.

Goods moving between GB and Ireland

If you are importing goods into Ireland from GB you will require, among other things:

  • an import declaration,
  • an import safety and security declaration (an ENS),
  • A Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN).

You may also require a licence for the goods to be imported.

Import declarations must be made electronically using Revenue’s new Automated Import System (AIS). See for more information.

The ENS must be submitted by the carrier to Irish Customs in advance of the goods leaving GB. Further information can be found in Revenue’s Import Control System (ICS) Trader Guide.

Where goods move by ferry using Irish ports, a Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN) needs to be provided to Customs at the port also. The PBN must be submitted to Irish Customs before the goods leave GB. The haulier is responsible for ensuring that the PBN is submitted using information provided by the importer.

Revenue has listed the most common PBN errors and related issues for RoRo shipments. Read more here.

All eCustoms notifications can be found here. 

Members involved with importing/exporting are recommended to sign up to receive Revenue's eCustoms notifications by contacting

See for more information.

If you are exporting goods from Ireland to GB you will require:

  • an export declaration,
  • an export safety and security declaration,

You may also require a licence. 

The customs declaration must be made electronically through Revenue’s Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system

For more information see

For information on bringing goods into Ireland from an EU Member State through GB see

Goods moving between GB and Northern Ireland

From 1 January 2021, customs declarations are needed when bringing goods into NI from GB (or from outside the EU).

To move goods from GB to NI, an EORI number that starts with ‘XI’ is needed.

The UK’s free-to-use Trader Support Service can help with the customs requirements. Registration is required to be able to use the service. You can find further information about the TSS on the Institute’s website. has further guidance on trading and moving goods from GB into NI.