The UK formally left the EU on Friday 31 January 2020, on the terms set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. This includes the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island and protecting the all-island economy.
From 1 January 2021, following the end of the transition period provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has been outside of the EU's Single Market and Customs Union. This has led to a new trading relationship for businesses moving goods to, from or through the UK, excluding Northern Ireland. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland sets out the arrangements for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
On 27 February 2023, the EU and the UK reached agreement in principle on a new way forward on the Protocol on Northern Ireland, the ‘Windsor Framework’. This framework puts in place solutions to the practical concerns raised by people and business in Northern Ireland around the Protocol. The Windsor Framework includes a comprehensive set of solutions that cover, amongst other things, new arrangements on customs, agri-food, medicines, VAT and excise, as well as specific instruments designed to ensure that the voices of the people of Northern Ireland are better heard on specific issues particularly relevant to the communities there.
Importing goods to the UK
On 29 August 2023, the UK Government published the final version of its Border Target Operating Model (TOM) which sets out its new model for importing goods to the UK from inside and outside the EU, including Ireland.
The new rules will be introduced in phases starting 31 January 2024.
These new controls will have implications for all Irish exporters to the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland. In particular, exports from the agri-food sector will have to be pre-notified and accompanied, in some cases, by export health and phyto-sanitary certificates.
As a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework, there will be no changes to moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
As the TOM will be implemented in several stages, all Irish exporters and those involved in moving goods to the United Kingdom are strongly encouraged to check the UK Government TOM website regularly.
It is vital that impacted businesses speak to everyone in their supply chain including your transport and logistics providers and your customers in Great Britain to examine what adjustments will be needed to comply with the new UK requirements and ensure everyone understands their role in this new environment.
Hauliers who move goods through the UK ports that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) need to register for the service. This will help to ensure that goods are processed through customs without delay. You can register for the GVMS here.
For the most up-to-date Brexit information and guidance, including further details on importing goods to the UK, visit gov.ie/Brexit.
The Ireland UK Unit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is responsible for supporting the Ministers and Management Board in ensuring a coordinated and coherent approach to Brexit across the department and its agencies. This includes engaging with stakeholders and we are happy to receive submissions regarding impacts and implications of Brexit that you consider relevant to our remit – email firstname.lastname@example.org.