The special status of Northern Ireland
The rules applicable to Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period
After the end of the transition period, the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland applies to trade between the EU and Northern Ireland. The Protocol will initially be in force for four years from the end of the transition period.
After the transition period, inter alia the EU customs legislation and obligations stemming from the international agreements concluded by the EU, insofar as they relate to trade in goods between the Union and third countries, will apply to Northern Ireland.
The EU and the United Kingdom have agreed that, insofar as EU customs rules apply to and in the UK in respect of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland will be treated as if it were part of the customs territory of the Union. In other words, when these provisions refer to the customs territory of the Union, the provisions will also apply to Northern Ireland.
In practice, this means, inter alia, the following:
- Goods brought to Northern Ireland from third countries or from other parts of the UK will be subject to customs supervision and may be subject to customs controls. Customs formalities apply to those goods and declarations have to be lodged with customs for them. Customs authorities may also require guarantees for potential or existing customs debts.
- Goods, including goods produced in Northern Ireland, to be taken out of Northern Ireland to third countries or to other parts of the UK will be subject to customs supervision and may be subject to customs controls. Customs formalities apply to those goods and the goods will usually be placed under the export procedure.
- No customs supervision, controls or formalities shall be applicable to goods moving between Northern Ireland and the Union.
- Goods brought to Northern Ireland and released for free circulation there will be subject to the EU’s Common Customs Tariff.
- Authorisations granting the status of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and other authorisations for customs simplifications granted to economic operators established in Northern Ireland remain valid in the customs territory of the Union, subject to necessary information to be provided on them by the authorities of the UK.
However, after the transition period, the same preferential rules of origin apply to Northern Ireland as to other parts of the UK. This means in particular:
- When products produced or further processed in Northern Ireland are exported to countries that are subject to EU preferential arrangements, they are not considered as EU originating, even if they were produced in Northern Ireland before the end of the transition period.
- However, products originating in the EU and located in Northern Ireland or originating in EU partner countries and located in Northern Ireland before the end of the transition period can still be considered as originating when re-entering the customs territory of the Union after the end of the transition period, provided that proofs of origin are presented for the products according to the provisions of the concerned EU preferential regime.
As of 1 January 2021, trade in goods with Northern Ireland will be part of intra-EU trade, for which the parties obliged to provide Intrastat information in Finland will submit Intrastat declarations starting from the statistical period 1/2021. The country code for Northern Ireland is XI.