Reviewed in August 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.


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


Phone: 0300 200 7852


How does sending data to Ireland change?

The UK has already agreed that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will be absorbed into UK domestic law as part of the agreed deal. Once the UK leaves the EU, it will be given ‘third country’ status, a classification that demands countries maintain robust data laws that provide equivalent protections to those found in the EU. The UK government stated it will seek an agreement with the EU during the 2020 negotiations.


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 come from countries that belong to the EEA include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, 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, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Countries that are EEA member countries but NOT part of the European Union include Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and you should keep in mind that Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status.

What is the Common Travel Area?

The Common Travel Area (CTA) was established in the 1920s to give British and Irish citizens the ability to travel freely between the two countries. It is a free borders area that includes the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland. If you are a British citizen or an Irish citizen you do not need to take any action to protect your status and rights associated with the CTA.

What is a Frontier Worker?

A frontier worker is an EEA National who lives in one state (e.g. the Republic of Ireland) but works in another state (e.g. the UK). The “frontier worker” must return home at least once a week. The UK government has stated that Irish citizens do not need to apply for a frontier worker permit to continue coming to the UK (including Northern Ireland) for work after 31 December 2020.

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.

Immigration: What about highly skilled workers?

From January 2021 the global talent route will be opened up to EU citizens. The route has recently been reformed, removing the cap on numbers, increasing the number of endorsing bodies and rebranded to maximise the attractiveness of this offer.

In addition, the route has been expanded to include a new fast-track scheme for top scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

In line with the recommendations from the MAC, the government will create a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system. This will allow a smaller number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

Immigration: Will there be a low-skilled worker route?

The new immigration system will not include an immigration route specifically for low-skilled workers. This will shift the focus of the UK’s economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation.

EU citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can still apply to settle in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until June 2021. The Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme will also be expanded from 2,500 to 10,000 places recognising the significant reliance the agricultural sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.

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

A new skilled worker visa will prioritise migrants with the highest skill-levels and the most experience. Someone will be able to apply for this visa if they’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK by an approved employer sponsor.

The skills threshold for skilled workers to provide employers with added flexibility.

From January 2021, the job will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). They’ll also need to be able to speak English and pass criminality checks. The minimum salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600.

If a person earns less than this – 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.

Immigration: What will change for international students and graduates?

Student visa routes will be opened up to EU citizens. A person will be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if they have been offered a place on a course, can speak, read, write and understand English and have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course.

A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK. They will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years.

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?

Most employers will hire candidates under the General Work Visa (Tier 2). Information regarding visa costs for 2021 have not been released and it is unclear if they will increase or vary at all. Employers should however begin to budget for visas and associated costs if they think they will need to hire migrant workers going forward. Costs have recently increased. We set out an example of current costs below.

Costs for sponsoring migrant workers will vary and can depend on whether a visa will issue for up to 3 years or more than 3 years and will depend on whether the visa relates to a shortage or a non-shortage occupation but ranges from £410 to £1220 per sponsored worker. Associated costs may include the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which at present sits at around £400 per visa holder, renewable annually. The current visa costs are accessible via the official government website.

Employers who wish to hire individuals on working visas will have to apply for a sponsor licence. The cost at present is:

£536 if the organisation is a charity or defined as a small entity; or

£1,476 for medium or large sponsors

The cost of a Certificate of Sponsorship to hire someone on a working visa is £199. Employers should also be aware of a tax that is levied on businesses who wish to sponsor international workers known as the Immigration Skills Charge. Again, the cost varies depending on the size of the business. For a small or charitable sponsor, the Immigration Skills Charge is £364 for the first year and £182 for each additional six months. For a medium or large sponsor, the charge is £1,000 for the first year and £500 for each additional six months.

You can also sign up to email alerts once this information becomes available. 

Visa: Should the cost of a visa be covered by the employer?

Normally the worker cover visa costs and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) but employers should agree this before agreeing to hire an individual. Questions to consider: can the worker afford to pay the fee? Will the employer agree to cover some of the costs? Are there family members accompanying the worker to the UK and can the individual pay for their visas?

Before sponsorship goes ahead, employers should check with the individual whether they have family and to reach an agreement at the outset as to who will bear relevant costs.

The sponsor can, for example, agree that the worker will pay their own application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) but the Immigration Skills Charge and Sponsor Licence fee must be absorbed by the employer.

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

If the person is from outside the UK and does not have indefinite leave to remain or a settled status through some other immigration route, an employer cannot hire that person without a visa/permission to work. If they were to hire the person without the necessary visa or compliance procedures in place, they could be held criminally liable. The employer should revert to the Home Office Right to Work guidance for more information on how they should check for valid documentation. If the person is an EEA citizen who had already been residing in the UK, they should be able to demonstrate that they have settled or pre-settled status after 1st January 2021.

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 8 weeks to obtain a sponsor licence and several weeks to organise a visa if the employer identifies a suitable candidate who is outside the UK.

Employers should bear in mind that they generally have to follow the Resident Market Labour Test (RMLT) to recruit a candidate who needs a visa if the job is not on the shortage occupation list and this can be time consuming. An employer must demonstrate that they have not been able to identify a ‘settled worker’ for the role. It is proposed that by 2021, the RMLT for adverting positions will be abolished and the process should be easier in terms of recruitment.

Visa: Can I request potential applicants have a visa?

Any matters relating to permission to work in the UK would arise after the job has been advertised and candidates selected. A visa will only issue once a job offer has been made.


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. The detail of how this will be implemented is yet to be worked out and forms part of the trade negotiations.

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, 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. From 1 January 2021 postponed accounting for VAT will apply to all imports of goods, including from the EU. 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.