UK government to act as customs adviser for traders

Aug 10, 2020

On Friday last, the UK government announced that a Trader Support Service will be launched shortly to support customs arrangements for trade from Britain to Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU customs union at the end of the year. The service will be available to all traders at no cost and will provide support and guidance on information needed to trade in certain products.

From 1 January 2021, goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain will need customs declarations. Under the NI Protocol, the UK and EU have agreed that to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules on agricultural and manufactured goods, while the rest of the UK will not. While the UK will leave the EU customs union, Northern Ireland will continue to enforce the EU’s customs rules at its ports.

While the information released is relatively light on detail in terms of how the system will work, what we do know is:

  • A new Trader Support Service will be available to all traders at no cost, reportedly from September.  This service will provide support and guidance on the processes and information needed for certain products. Effectively the UK government will act as a customs adviser for businesses.
  • Traders will have to provide information digitally on the goods being moved. The Trader Support Service will use this information to complete declarations on behalf of companies, according to the UK guidance released.
  • Businesses who have an EORI number will be provided with a reference ID to use the service.
  • All traders who wish to use the support are encouraged to sign up for further information.

Further details on how the electronic processes will work will be set out by the UK government in due course.

To recap, the broader customs arrangements that will apply after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020 are as follows:

  1.  Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

    The process remains the same.

  2.  Moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

    Changes will apply and customs declarations will be required. A new Trader Support Service, available to all traders at no cost, will be established to provide support and guidance on the processes for food and agricultural products.

  3.  Trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and EU Member States

    This process remains the same.  There will be no changes at the border, no new paperwork, and no tariffs or regulatory checks.

  4.  For trade with the rest of the world

Northern Ireland will benefit from UK Free Trade Agreements.