Can businesses use Great Britain as a “land bridge” between the continental EU and Republic of Ireland?

EU Exit may create issues for some shipments passing between Ireland and the Continental EU via GB, in either direction.

Loads of qualifying goods moving between the UK and EU countries are not subject to tariff or quota, due to the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).

However, issues may arise if shipments pass through GB en route from one EU country to another.

(eg: if a large shipment from Continental Europe is broken up within GB, with part going on to Ireland and part staying in GB).

In these cases, goods leaving GB may be subject to EU tariff on re-entering the EU, unless they have been a subject to “sufficient processing” within GB.

One way to address this is via the Common Transit Convention (CTC).

This is a 1987 treaty which facilitates movement of goods across borders.

The UK remains within the CTC (other members are the EU, EFTA, Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia).

The CTC allows for the movement of:

  • Non-EU goods through EU countries, with tariffs payable at the final destination only
  • EU goods through non-EU countries, to other EU countries, with no tariffs paid

The latter is most applicable to use of GB as a land bridge.

Note that use of CTC does still require some administrative compliance – refer to section 3.1.6 of the Border Operating Model.