Brexit & Customs Duty

PSC Accountants & AdvisorsBrexit Brexit & Customs Duty

Brexit & Customs Duty

The New Rules

From 1 January 2021, a different customs regime will exist in Northern Ireland (NI). The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the Withdrawal Agreement is designed to maintain an all-island economy and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Clarification will be required on how some areas of the Protocol will operate from a customs perspective.


We have outlined below the customs implications for:

  • Irish businesses trading goods with Northern Ireland
  • Irish businesses trading goods with Great Britain


At the time of writing, differences remain between the UK and EU on how some elements of the Protocol should be interpreted.



NI will remain part of the UK’s customs territory but will continue to follow EU customs rules for goods. This means there will be no customs duties, declarations, controls, or border checks where goods move between NI and Ireland.


To avoid a hard border arising on the island of Ireland, NI has to remain aligned to a limited set of rules related to the EU’s Single Market. These include legislation on goods, sanitary rules for veterinary controls (SPS rules), rules on agricultural production, VAT and excise and some state aid rules.



From 1 January 2021, customs duties will apply on goods traded between Great Britain and Ireland (and the EU) unless a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is reached between the UK and the EU.


If an FTA is reached between the UK and the EU, reduced or zero tariffs will apply to goods that are of UK or Irish/EU origin. This means that an FTA will not eliminate tariffs where goods are imported into Ireland from outside the EU and these goods are then sold on to customers in the UK.


Where an FTA is not reached between the UK and the EU:

  • Any goods imported into GB from Ireland will be subject to the UK’s new Global Tariff schedule.
  • Any goods imported into Ireland from GB will be subject to the EU’s Common External Tariff.


Regardless of whether a Free Trade Agreement is reached between the EU and the UK, import and export declarations will be needed for all traded goods and safety and security declarations may also be required. There could also be regulatory checks on goods.


Where an FTA is not reached between the UK and the EU,

  • Any goods imported into GB from the EU will be subject to the UK’s new Global Tariff schedule
  • Any goods imported into the EU from GB will be subject to the EU’s Common External Tariff


The UK Government plans to introduce customs controls on goods arriving from Ireland (and therefore, the EU) on a phased basis. This means:


From 1 January 2021

Importers of standard goods have until 1 July 2021 to submit a customs import declaration and pay any customs duties arising. The importer must apply to HMRC to use simplified declarations for imports and have a duty deferment payment account in place.


From 1 January 2021

Checks and health declarations will be required for certain goods such as live animals and high-risk plant product. Alcohol and tobacco products will also require checks.


From 1 April 2021

All goods of animal origin and regulated plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation.


From 1 July 2021

Full import declarations, safety and security declarations will apply to all imported goods and customs duties must be paid at import.


The EU have said that normal procedures will apply to goods being imported into the EU. This means that customs declarations, safety and security checks must be made, and duties paid without delay.


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