Please note that some of these measures may be subject to change and that further details are continuing to emerge in what is a complex and novel area.
Under the terms of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, future arrangements relating to Northern Ireland were set out in a separate Protocol which is independent of the main Trade and Cooperation Agreement which has now been reached.
In essence these provide for Northern Ireland to have continued access to the EU Single Market and Customs Union, while remaining within the UK customs territory.
As a consequence of this, special rules will now apply to trade between GB and NI, details of which are set out in a UK Government Command Paper reflecting decisions taken in December 2020 by the Joint Committee set up under the Protocol.
In effect, goods moved from GB to NI will in future be regarded as entering the EU and subject to the generality of requirements applicable to all third country trade. Goods moved from NI to GB will, however, have unfettered access to the rest of the UK market.
This necessitates the introduction of a number of new procedures, some of which benefit from limited ‘grace periods’ to allow for adaptation to take place.
The main requirements are set out in Defra’s Trader Showcase. This covers temporary arrangements for facilitating sales of goods to final consumers through retail channels (see also Moving Goods into out of or through Northern Ireland from 1/1/21) as well as a UK Trader Scheme allowing businesses to register for exemption from potential tariff liabilities, for example in respect of goods not meeting the Rules of Origin requirements in the main Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
A new Trader Support Service has also been put in place to provide assistance to companies in meeting these new requirements, particularly in respect of customs declarations.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland (Daera) has also issued a Compliance Protocol in relation to SPS and other regulatory checks.