The Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, establishes a unique arrangement for Northern Ireland that allows it to remain closely aligned with the European Union (EU) while maintaining its connection to the rest of the United Kingdom (Great Britain – GB). This arrangement can be advantageous for GB businesses seeking to access markets in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the EU, as it provides a framework for trade and access to these regions. Here’s how GB businesses can use the Northern Ireland Protocol to facilitate access:
Access to the Republic of Ireland Market:
GB businesses can use Northern Ireland as a gateway to the Republic of Ireland. Since there is no hard border on the island of Ireland, goods can move freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
With this in mind, when goods are sent from GB to NI if the goods are “at risk” of entering the EU (Republic of Ireland or Mainland EU), these goods have to be declared as such, and with this, they may incur import duties and taxes. Whilst this may sound painstaking, companies like SJ Henderson Fulfilment offer a door-to-door service – handling the collection of the physical goods in GB and completing customs reports, documentation and payments to ensure smooth and easy transportation.
To determine if your goods will incur duties when declaring “at risk”,you can use this online tool provided by gov. uk in the link below. Once you have selected the correct commodity code, scroll down the page to the table, and your percentage of the value of goods to be paid via duties will be detailed under the column “Third country duty”.
Duty Free Access to NI Trade
Note that if goods are declared “not at risk”, they will stay in NI or be dispatched back to GB – then companies registered under the UKIMS scheme can import the goods to NI using the infamous “green lane.” We at SJ Henderson Fulfilment are registered under this scheme and can offer this within our fulfilment services, offering full access to NI trade without any additional customs duties or taxes due to be paid.
Access to the EU Single Market:
GB businesses can optimize their supply chains by considering Northern Ireland as an integral part of their trade strategy. By establishing distribution centres or partnerships in Northern Ireland using a 3PL like SJ Henderson Fulfilment, they can efficiently serve Northern Ireland and broader EU markets from one location.
After import to Northern Ireland, goods will be declared “Northern Ireland Qualifying Goods”. This allows businesses to export goods to the EU without facing the same customs checks and tariffs that apply to goods moving from GB to the EU.
Medium-Long Term Solution:
If seeking to put in place a solution for your business to trade easily across GB, ROI, NI and the EU in the medium-long term – your goods, instead of being imported to GB from your supplier – can instead be shipped directly to a 3PL centre in Northern Ireland, like SJ Henderson Fulfilment, where your goods will be cleared and any duties payable only paid once at the UK-wide import rate. The goods can then freely move to GB, ROI, NI and the EU without any customs duties or taxes owed.
Registering your Company in Northern Ireland:
Companies based in GB can also establish a subsidiary in Northern Ireland to cement their business’ commitment to the EU marketplace for goods, leveraging the Protocol’s provisions for the free flow of goods. Whilst this is not a necessary legal requirement at the time of writing, you can apply for and obtain an XI EORI number – only available to businesses in Northern Ireland, allowing you to import and export with your credentials. We at SJ Henderson Fulfilment Ltd can offer the services required to register your company in Northern Ireland and provide fulfilment services to receive, warehouse, process and dispatch your orders across NI, ROI, GB and the EU – negating the need to operate your own facility in NI.
Compliance and Documentation:
GB businesses must know the rules and regulations governing trade in Northern Ireland. They should ensure that their products meet EU standards and that they complete any required documentation to demonstrate compliance. This may include conforming to EU labelling, certification, and safety standards.
As mentioned in our subtitle, through the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework – GB businesses can use Northern Ireland as a hub for distribution and trade across the EU, Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB – increasing competitiveness and stance in these marketplaces.
If you have any questions or queries about this or how we can help you fulfil the above here at SJ Henderson Fulfilment, you can book a meeting with Stephen anytime by clicking here to discuss this in detail.