Trading with the UK Post Brexit

On the 31st of January 2020 Britain officially left the European Union. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, a transition period came into effect on the 1st of February 2020 and will run until the 31st of December 2020. During the transition period the UK will remain in the EU customs union and single market. As a result, goods can move freely between the UK and the EU without any customs checks or formalities until the end of the transition period.

From 1st of January 2021, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU customs union or single market. The UK will effectively become a third country, meaning trading with the UK will be subject to the same requirements as trading with the USA or China. In practice this means;

  • Customs declarations will be a requirement from 1st of January 2021 for trade between ROI and the UK.
  • Import duty may be payable on goods imported from the UK, tariff code dependent.
  • Import VAT will become payable on goods imported from the UK.

Customs declarations will be a requirement even if a trade deal is negotiated between the EU and UK prior to 1st of January 2021. It is estimated that the number of declarations carried out in Ireland could increase from 1.7 million to as much as 20 million per year.

These requirements will negatively impact both costs and cash flow. In addition to the customs requirements, importers must also be aware of the possible delays in receiving goods due to potential port congestion.

Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol ensures that there will be no customs controls in place between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Goods may travel freely on the island of Ireland.

Goods travelling between the UK and Northern Ireland may be subject to controls at the port of entry for Northern Ireland if they are “at risk” of entering the EU. This measure is aimed at safeguarding the integrity of the EU single market by levying VAT and Duty on goods that travel from the UK to Ireland via Northern Ireland.

This protocol will last until at least 2024. In 2024 a vote will be held to remain in, or leave the protocol. A vote can take place every four years.

Getting Prepared

With four months to go until frictionless trade with the UK comes to an end, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are as prepared as possible.

  1. Ensure you have an EU EORI number. An EORI number is required when importing to, or exporting from the EU.
  2. Appoint a customs clearance agent.
  3. Determine the valuation, origin and tariff codes of your goods. This will determine the duty rate payable upon importation.
  4. Review the INCOTERMS you have agreed with your supplier. This will determine who is responsible for the customs formalities, import duties and taxes.
  5. Apply for a customs deferred payment authorization. This will allow you to defer VAT and duty payments until the following month.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are various customs procedures you may be able to avail of, but these will vary depending on your circumstances.

For more information on Brexit, please contact