United Kingdom

The Northern Ireland Protocol - What You Need to Know

The latest Brexit news has recently revolved around the Northern Ireland Protocol. You may be wondering what this means and how it may impact the future of trade between the rest of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Here is a quick breakdown of all the key information that you as a haulier or courier may need to know.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The Northern Ireland Protocol has been put in place to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and to honour the Good Friday Agreement.

This would mean that EU rules are applied to Northern Ireland, allowing current trade practices with the Republic of Ireland to continue and therefore avoiding the need for border checks.

The UK Government protocol guidance states -

  • Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain should take place as it does now – there will be no additional process, paperwork, or restrictions on Northern Ireland goods moving to Great Britain, delivering unfettered access.
  • Changes for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be kept to an absolute minimum - with a new Trader Support Service, available to all traders at no cost, to be established to provide wraparound support, alongside guidance on the processes for food and agricultural products designed to uphold the longstanding status of the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological unit.
  • Trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and EU Member States, will continue unaffected, with no change at the border, no new paperwork, and no tariffs or regulatory checks.
  • For trade with the rest of the world, Northern Ireland will benefit from UK FTAs – ensuring the benefits of those agreements are felt right across the United Kingdom.

"At the heart of this guidance is the commitment to provide extensive support for businesses engaging in new processes. In particular, the Government will establish a new and unprecedented Trader Support Service. This will provide an end-to-end service which will guide traders through all import processes, including handling digital import and safety and security declarations on their behalf, at no additional cost. The guidance sets out further details on this service and how to register to use it from the end of the UK transition period." UK Government

Why are there concerns about border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

Part of the Good Friday Agreement declared that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland did not contain security barriers or checkpoints. All physical signs of the border were removed.

The Good Friday agreement was created in order to bring peace and unity between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Brexit could pose a threat to this harmony.

If Northern Ireland leave the EU but Republic of Ireland remain, there would need to be border control methods in place to comply with EU trade laws. The Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations seek to avoid the requirement of this border.

How will this affect trade?

The Northern Ireland Protocol will be actioned on the 1st January 2021 (the date that the transition period ends).

As Northern Ireland will be continuing to follow and comply with EU regulation and the rest of the UK will not, a border will be created within the Irish Sea and border checks will be mandatory.

There are still aspects of the trade negotiations that may impact the Northern Ireland Protocol and until the UK knows the full extent of the outcome of the withdrawal agreement, it is difficult to ascertain if there will be any changes in regulations and requirements in order to conduct trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

What are your thoughts on the Northern Ireland Protocol? Get in touch via social media to let us know

17 September 2020

Search and Book

Thu, 21 Jan 2021
Fri, 22 Jan 2021
Need help?