On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.. Content on the site is being monitored to reflect this and the changes.


Do I need customs paperwork when moving goods on the island of Ireland?

Because of the deal agreed, the NI Protocol, the movement of goods for the cross border traders will not require any customs paperwork to or from Ireland and Northern Ireland either during the transition period (31st January 2020 to 31st December 2020) or after this time. InterTradeIreland will follow trade negotiations and will update information should there be any exceptions to this.

We will keep the site updated, particularly in the area of products which fall into the area of food and animal origin, when more information becomes clear. We will also monitor any communications in the negotiation’s which discuss the processes around goods which are at risk of moving outside of the single market.

More information can be found here in the NI Protocol and in the EU publications.

Do I need customs paperwork when moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain?

There may be a requirement for some paperwork or checks when moving goods to and from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Please note: this won’t be confirmed until later in 2020 when future EU-UK relationship is agreed.

What is an ATA Carnet used for?

An ATA Carnet is an international Customs document which allows the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment or goods for an exhibition.

An ATA Carnet is valid for one year and allows for movement of the goods shown on the Carnet as many times as required during the 12 months to any of the destinations applied for.

Further advice on the temporary admission of goods is available from GOV.UK. 

What is inward processing relief?

Inward Processing or Inward Processing Relief (IPR), allows for the relief from customs duty and import VAT on the importation of non-EU goods that are processed and then exported outside the EU. Excise duty may also be suspended when goods are entered into Inward Processing. Further advice on inward processing is available from GOV.UK.

What is a Certificate of Origin?

The country of origin of goods is a factor in determining the amount of duty payable alongside the type and value of the goods. Some countries have Reduced duty rates as laid out in trade agreements called preferential origin rules. Non-preferential rules apply for purposes other than preferential duty. These are used to determine, for example if trade embargoes or Anti-Dumping Duties apply or for compiling statistics.

What are Rules of Origin and when are they used?

A Rules of Origin (RoO) certificate, also known as a Certificate of Origin (CO), is a document which identifies the origin of goods being exported between two countries that have a Free Trade Agreement.

The certificate is issued by a Chamber of Commerce and is a requirement by customs in the buyers country to determine the origin of the goods.

Details included on the certificate include consignor, consignee, country of origin, description of goods, quantity of shipment and a chamber stamp.

It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that all paperwork relating to each consignment of goods is accurate and authentic.

There is a cost for each certificate, details on costs can be found from the individual Chambers and there are accredited Chambers of Commerce that can issue a Rules of Origin in Northern Ireland.

I am in the Primary Agriculture sector. Where can I find out more information?

Primary Agriculture will include businesses who are a primary producer in food, farming and fisheries.

Northern Ireland Contact Information:

Visit the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) website for dedicated Brexit support or use the information below

Email: daera.helpline@daera-ni.gov.uk

Phone: 0300 200 7852


What are the rules for data transfers to the United Kingdom after 2020?

Additional protections will be required under EU GDPR rules where data moves out of the EU to the UK after 1 January 2021, unless the EU recognises the adequacy of the UK’s data protection rules before the end of the year. 

For more information, click here.
Click here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

If there is no adequacy decision on data; a “no-deal”, what should I do now?

No additional requirements will apply to the transfer of data from Northern Ireland to Great Britain after 1 January 2021. The whole of the United Kingdom is covered by the new UK GDPR. 

For more information, click here.
Click here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

What happens if there is an adequacy decision for UK GDPR rules (a “deal”) before year end?

Additional protections will be required under EU GDPR rules where data moves out of the EU to the UK after 1 January 2021, unless the EU recognises the adequacy of the UK’s data protection rules before the end of the year. 

For more information, click here
Click here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

What about data moving from the UK to Ireland?

If your business involves the receipt of personal data from Ireland or elsewhere in the EU, and no adequacy decision has been made by the EU, you and the sender will need to act to ensure that alternative protection is put in place so that you can continue to receive personal data after 1 January 2021. 

The EU sender of data to you will be required under EU GDPR to put in place alternative protection, which may include an agreement or further clauses in your agreement concerning the protection of the data which is transferred. 

The UK Government has published guidance on data flows for UK businesses and other organisations that receive data from organisations abroad including those in the EU. The guidance is available here

What are the rules for data transfers to Northern Ireland after 2020?

If your business is already transferring data covered by data protection rules to and from states outside the EU about which the EU has already made an adequacy decision, the position will remain unchanged in most cases. The Information Commissioner’s Office website indicates: 

“To date, 12 of the 13 third countries deemed adequate by the EU have informed us they will maintain unrestricted personal data flows with the UK.”

Businesses and organisations affected should follow guidance and updates on the ICO’s website. 


What is an Incoterm?

Incoterms (which stand for International Commercial Terms) are 11 international rules created by by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) that are accepted by governments, legal authorities and practitioners worldwide for as the standard contract term used in sales contracts with importing/exporting. Incoterms define responsibility and liability for shipment of the goods. In plain English – how far along the process will the supplier ensure that the goods are moved, and at what point does the buyer take over the shipment process.

What are each of the Incoterms?

There are 11 Incoterms, each has a three digit code followed by the full name of the Inocterm:

EXW Ex Works

FCA Free Carrier

CPT Carriage Paid To

CIP Carriage and Insurance Paid To

DAP Delivered at Place

DPU Delivered at Place Unloaded

DDP Delivered Duty Paid

FAS Free Alongside Ship

FOB Free on Board

CFR Cost and Freight

CIF Cost, Insurance & Freight

Why will I need Incoterms after the transition period?

After the transition period your existing Incoterms may not be right for your business as they could confer new obligations such as registering for VAT in a foreign country. It is therefore advisable to review your existing contacts to see if they contain Incoterms and assess whether these will need to be updated.

Do Incoterms change?

Yes. Regardless of Brexit, Incoterms are revised in ten-year intervals to reflect international commercial practice. The last revision effected in Incoterms 2020.

Are Incoterms legally binding?

Yes. Incoterms are a legally-enforceable part of a sales contract and can be used in the resolution of disputes that go to litigation.

How can I find out what Incoterms I am currently using?

You should review your existing contracts to see if they contain Incoterms and assess whether these will need to be updated, you may find these written on your invoice, alternatively you can contact your supplier or purchaser and ask the question. If you use a freight forwarder, they should also be able to tell you.


What is a EEA National?

EEA (European Economic Area) nationals hold a passport from at least one of the following countries: 

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. 

Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals currently have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals. 

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme is a mandatory immigration application which certain EU, EEA or Swiss Citizens must make an application under. 

To be eligible for the scheme the applicant must be in the UK by 31 December 2020, and an application must be made by 30 June 2021. 

A successful application will provide the applicant with proof of their right to live and work in the UK. 

If the application is successful, the applicant will receive either “Settled Status” or “Pre-Settled Status”. 

Further information about the EU Settlement Scheme can be found here.

What is the Common Travel Area?

The Common Travel Area (CTA) was established in the 1920s to give British and Irish citizens to live and work in the UK and Ireland without making an immigration application. The CTA will not change as a result of Brexit. As such: 

Irish passport holders do not have to make an immigration application (including applications under the EU Settlement Scheme or for a Frontier Worker Permit) in the UK; and 

British passport holders do not have to make an immigration application in Ireland. 

What is a Frontier Worker?

A “Frontier Worker” is an EEA National who lives in one state (e.g. Ireland) but works in another state (e.g. the UK).

Under the proposed UK rules, a “Frontier Worker” must be:
(i) An EEA national;
(ii) Not “primarily resident” in the UK; and 
(iii) Working in the UK 

A person is not “primarily resident” in the UK if they have:
(i) been present in the UK for less than 180 days in the 12-month period immediately before 31 December 2020; or 
(ii) returned (from the UK) to their country of residence at least:
a. Once in the six-month period immediately before 31 December 2020; or 
b. Twice in the twelve-month period immediately before 31 December 2020

The UK Government has stated that Irish citizens do not need to apply for a Frontier Working Permit. However, EEA nationals who live in Ireland, do not hold an Irish passport and work in Northern Ireland (or elsewhere in the UK) should make an application for a Frontier Worker Permit rather than under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

The Frontier Worker scheme is not open for applications at this time. For further details, click here

Immigration: What is a points-based immigration system?

Under a points-based immigration system points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.

Immigration: Will EU citizens need a visa to visit the UK?

EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for a visa in advance.

EU citizens, along with citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA, Singapore and South Korea – with biometric passports – will continue to be able to use automatic eGates to cross the UK border.

Will there be an immigration route for “Low-Skilled” Workers?

There will not be an immigration route specifically for so called “low-skilled” workers.

Immigration: What is the new skilled worker route (including salary requirements)?

The points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. 

From January 2021, the job offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A-level). 

There will also be certain English language requirements (although exact details about this has yet to be released). 

The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600. 

If an applicant will earn less than £25,600 – but no less than £20,480 – they may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against their salary. For example, if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

Details of how the points system will work are in the policy statement and here.

If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now.

Visa: Where can I get information about employing someone who requires a visa?

The official government site provides this information.

Guidance for employers is available on carrying out right to work checks on EU citizens and their family members in the UK, steps include checking a job applicant’s right to work. Click here for more information.

Visa: How much can a working visa cost?

Employers should however begin to budget for visas and associated costs if you think you will need to hire migrant workers after 31 December 2020. 

Current visa costs can be found here.

Employers should note that the following may be required before obtaining a work visa: 
– The visa fee (for the visa applied for).
– Certificate of Sponsorship.
– Immigration Skills Charge.
– Immigration Health Surcharge. 
– Sponsor Licence fee. 

Visa: If I recruit for a position and the person identified does not have a visa what are my obligations?

Under the new immigration system, a person must apply for and successfully obtain a visa before coming to work in the UK. It is a criminal offence to work illegally and facilitate illegal work. 

You can check a person’s “Right to Work” in the UK in the same way as you currently do until 30 June 2021. 

Until this date job applicants can prove their right to work in the following ways:
– EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can use their passport or national identity card; 
– non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family members can use an immigration status document listed in the right to work checks employer guide; 
– EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members can use their online right to work checking service; 

If an applicant uses the online checking service this will generate a share code. You must then use the employers’ online service to check their right to work using this share code. 

You have a duty not to discriminate against EU, EEA or Swiss citizens. 

Irish citizens will continue to prove their right to work in the UK as they do now. 

Visa: What can I include in a person specification if the job is urgent and requiring a visa would cause an issue?

A person specification or job description should only include the core details of the position being advertised. Anything relating to permission to work in the UK or visa requirements are generally a HR matter and would likely be included as a condition as part of the selection process. 

The time it takes to secure a candidate who needs a visa will depend on whether the company recruiting is already a sponsored employer. It can take up to 12 weeks to obtain a sponsor licence and several weeks to organise a visa. 

An employer must demonstrate that they have not been able to identify a ‘settled worker’ for the role. 


What does ‘regulatory alignment’ mean?

Regulatory alignment refers to the degree to which UK and EU rules governing trade in goods and services will be the same or similar in future.

I sell certified products into Northern Ireland. What should I be checking?

You need to check where your products are certified as UK notified bodies may no longer have legal status within the EU post 31st December 2020. You can find more information on regulations from UK National Standards Agency.

Supply Chain

What supply chain supports are available?

InterTradeIreland has supports available in our free Bitesize guide to Supply Chain. This advice and guidance can help businesses with:

• Managing Supply Chain Relationships

• Mapping Your Supply Chain

• Make-or-Buy Decisions

• Future Proofing Contracts

I purchase my supplies locally. Will the new trading arrangements affect me?

Although you purchase your goods locally, we would encourage you to map your supply chain. It will be important to understand who supplies you and who supplies your suppliers. Looking further down the chain will allow you to identify any potential supply chain risks. You can then mitigate to ensure continuity of supply after the transition period. For further information, visit the free InterTradeIreland Bitesize guide to Supply Chain.

How do I map my supply chain?

You can undertake a simple mapping exercise by following the below steps:

Define: List all your suppliers and categorise them. For example, by priority stakeholders, locations, lead times, availability of alternative suppliers.

Assess: Define the risk to the business. For example, regulation, currency, lead times.

Mitigate: Supplier processes. For example, by talking to current suppliers, seeking alternative suppliers.

For further information, visit the free InterTradeIreland Bitesize guide to Supply Chain.

What are other businesses doing to prepare their supply chains?

InterTradeIreland have helped many businesses across the island of Ireland map their supply chains in order to prepare for the new trading relationship. Read our Supply Chain Case Studies to find out how they are preparing.

Trade Negotiations

What does ‘Trade in Goods’ refer to?

Trade in goods covers transactions in general merchandise and goods for processing. Both manufactured products and primary commodities are goods.

What does ‘Trade in Services’ refer to?

A service is an action that a person does for someone else. Services are actions such as customer service, hospitality, IT, electricity, banking, consultancy, outsourcing production. Services industries cover everything from transport services, legal services, financial services to education, health and tourism. These roles often involve face-to-face interaction between buyer and seller.

What is the WTO?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments.

What is GATT?

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT is the agreement by which the trade in goods is primarily regulated within the WTO.

What is GATS?

General Agreement on Trade in Services or GATS is the agreement by which the trade in goods is primarily regulated within the WTO.


I trade goods cross-border. Will VAT be affected?

VAT will remain unchanged until the end of the transition period which is 31st December 2020. The NI protocol has agreed that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK VAT area but will follow the EU VAT rules for goods. HMRC have issued guidance on how these VAT rules will operate.

Where can I find more information on VAT?

InterTradeIreland will update the information presented here as the operational aspects of the arrangements are worked out. In the interim we would suggest the GOV.UK website for more information. 

What is VAT postponed accounting?

VAT postponed accounting means that importers will be able to declare and recover import VAT in their next VAT return in respect of world imports, rather than when their goods arrive at the UK border. To do this they will need to provide their VAT registration and EORI number on their customs declaration and also state on the customs declaration that they are opting for postponed VAT accounting. From 1 January 2021 postponed accounting for VAT will apply to all imports of goods, including from the EU (note this does not apply for EU goods that arrive in Northern Ireland). For more information on VAT visit the GOV.UK website.

How will the trade in services with Northern Ireland change?

The current rules on trade in services will continue to apply during the transition period. The outcomes of EU/UK trade negotiations with respect to services remain to be seen. In line with Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the envisaged partnership should aim at substantial sectoral coverage, covering all modes of supply and providing for the absence of substantially all discrimination in the covered sectors.