Apply for authorisation for the UK Trader Scheme if you bring goods into Northern Ireland
Last updated 13 September 2021
While discussions continue on the proposals in the Northern Ireland Protocol: the way forward, you should continue to use the current arrangements. This guidance will be updated in due course and will give you time to prepare for any new requirements.
If you want to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ and the EU tariff rate on these goods is above zero, you must apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme.
‘At risk’ goods will be charged the applicable EU duty. ‘Not at risk’ goods will be charged either:
- no duty if entering Northern Ireland from free circulation in Great Britain
- UK duty if entering Northern Ireland from outside of both the EU and the UK
- UK duty if entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain and the good was not in free circulation in Great Britain
If you do not have experience in customs or would like to find out more information, you can register with the Trader Support Service to support you with this process.
Who can apply to the UK Trader Scheme
To apply you must meet one of the 2 establishment criteria. You must either:
- be established in Northern Ireland
- have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland and meet the additional requirements outlined
You must also meet all of the:
- customs compliance requirements
- records, systems, controls and evidence requirements and meet the additional requirements
For a short time, until 1 November 2021, you can be authorised to declare goods ‘not at risk’ without having your own fixed address in Northern Ireland.
If you move goods into Northern Ireland to be processed, and wish to declare these goods ‘not at risk’, you’ll need to meet additional requirements.
Applying if you are established in Northern Ireland
You are established in Northern Ireland if you have your central headquarters or a registered office there, where human and technical resources are present and all or part of your customs operations are carried out.
Further guidance on the terms of establishment that apply across the UK is available.
Applying if you have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland
If you’re not established in Northern Ireland, you can still meet the UK Trader Scheme establishment criteria, provided that you meet all of the following conditions:
- your customs operations are carried out in the UK
- you have an indirect customs representative in Northern Ireland, such as the Trader Support Service
- you have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland which is all of the following:
- where part or all of your business takes place
- a physical location you rent or own, which you must staff
- where you sell or provide goods for final use by end consumers (including use by your own business or sale to retail outlets in Northern Ireland)
- where relevant customs, transport and commercial documentation is available
For example, a fixed place of business could be:
- a retail outlet or warehouse from which goods brought into Northern Ireland are sold or sent directly to consumers
- your own business site where the goods you bring into Northern Ireland are used
If you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland but do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland
For a short time you can be authorised to declare goods ‘not at risk’ without having your own fixed address in Northern Ireland.
This period has been extended until 1 November 2021 if all of the following applies:
- you do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland but your customs operations are carried out in the UK and you have an indirect customs representative in Northern Ireland (such as the Trader Support Service)
- you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland which has a fixed place of business from where those goods are provided for, or sold to end consumers, and that business is either:
- authorised under the UK Trader Scheme
- could be authorised, if they were the importer of those goods
To be authorised to declare goods ‘not at risk’ in these circumstances, you must:
- meet all of the other UK Trader Scheme criteria
- be able to declare goods as ‘not at risk’ because they are for sale to, or final use by, end consumers located in the UK
In your application you will need to:
- list the addresses of the businesses in Northern Ireland that you supply who are authorised or meet the criteria to be authorised
- tell HMRC that you are supplying goods to a business in Northern Ireland who is authorised or meets the criteria to be authorised, but you do not currently have a fixed premise in Northern Ireland - you should state this in your covering email when submitting your application for authorisation
In the period up to 1 November 2021, you should take steps to restructure or amend your contractual terms to meet the full requirements listed in this guidance for UK Trader Scheme authorisation.
If you do not meet the full establishment criteria for the UK Trader Scheme by 1 November 2021 your authorisation may be revoked.
The customs compliance requirements
You must have:
- a good customs and tax compliance record
- no record of serious criminal offences related to your economic activity
Your record is based on the 3 years prior to application, or on all available information including your involvement in any previous businesses. You must have no record of any serious or repeated infringements of customs rules.
Records, systems, controls and evidence requirements
You will need to give details of the records, systems and controls you have in place that allow you to accurately declare that goods are ‘not at risk’.
When you apply for authorisation, you should give details of:
- the systems and processes to track goods from import to end-use - such as logistics systems or stock control processes
- documented procedures and administrative systems to determine whether goods are ‘not at risk’
- internal controls and processes that ensure goods are correctly declared ‘not at risk’
- commercial or transport records - such as delivery records or inventory systems which confirm end use of the goods
The records you tell us about will be specific and appropriate to your business and they’ll need to show:
- where you source goods from
- how and where they’ll be used or sold
If you’re a small or medium sized business you do not need complex systems, but they must be appropriate to the size, nature and complexity of the business.
For example, if you are:
- a large business - you may tell us about the logistical software that you have which tracks goods from import to end use
- a small or medium-sized business - you may instead tell us about the internal processes or procedures you have in place which allow you to document the goods you import and evidence they are ‘not at risk’, like purchase and sales records
You must keep evidence that your goods are ‘not at risk’ (for example, sales receipts) for 5 years. We may visit you to check your records. You must be able to provide access to a customs officer to check the records, systems and controls you have told us about, and evidence to confirm each declaration.
Additional requirements for processing
When you apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme, you will be asked if you move goods which are subject to processing and if you meet the additional processing requirements.
If you do not meet these processing requirements, you will not be able to declare goods which will be subject to processing in Northern Ireland as ‘not at risk’, even if you are granted authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme.
You can still declare goods which are not subject to processing ‘not at risk’ where the ‘not at risk’ requirements are met.
If you want to declare goods which will be processed as ‘not at risk’, as part of your application for authorisation you’ll need to either :
- state that your turnover for the most recent financial year is below £500,000. If you’re a newly established business, you’ll need to provide records approved by the directors, partners or sole proprietor, to enable an assessment of anticipated turnover. Examples include:
- latest cash flow
- balance sheet
- profit and loss forecasts
- state that you intend to bring goods for processing into Northern Ireland, where the goods are to be processed for one or more of the following sole purposes:
- food for sale to end consumers in the UK
- construction - where the processed goods form a permanent part of a structure that is constructed and located in Northern Ireland by the importer
- direct provision to the recipient of health or care services by the importer in Northern Ireland
- not for profit activities in Northern Ireland, where there is no subsequent sale of the processed good by the importer
- the final use of animal feed on premises located in Northern Ireland by the importer
When to apply
If you want to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ and the EU duty rate on these goods is above zero, you must apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme.
If you applied before the end of February 2021 you will have received a provisional authorisation for up to 4 months while HMRC process your application. While provisionally authorised you may declare goods as ‘not at risk’ if they meet the criteria.
If you apply after February 2021
Applications can take up to a month to be processed by HMRC, so you must make sure you apply one month before you plan to move goods that you want to declare as ‘not at risk’. You must have received your UK Trader Scheme authorisation before declaring your goods ‘not at risk’.
How to apply
You’ll need to:
Fill in the form on screen, by selecting ‘Start now’.
Save the form onto your computer.
Email the completed form to: email@example.com with any supporting documentation. Type your EORI number in the subject of the email.
Queries sent to this mailbox will not be answered.
You should complete the application form and submit with proof of permanent business establishment or document of establishment. You may also provide evidence of your record-keeping to supplement the information provided in your application, but this is not mandatory.
If you are applying for authorisation and do not have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland then you must provide the necessary additional information when submitting your application.
For support throughout this process you may register with the Trader Support Service.
To apply for authorisation, you’ll need:
- details of any other customs authorisations you hold, such as Authorised Economic Operator, Customs Freight Simplified Procedures or customs special procedures - this means you’ll not need to provide as much information when you apply
- your XI EORI number
- details of your business and its directors
- your company registration number or Unique Taxpayer Reference if you are a sole trader or partnership
- your VAT registration number if you have one
- the estimated number of ‘not at risk’ declarations you’ll make annually
- details of your business premises in Northern Ireland, such as where you undertake processing or sell goods to consumers - you must provide details of all the premises you have in Northern Ireland
After you’ve applied
You’ll get a notification from us to confirm we have your application for authorisation.
You’ll get a further notification once your application has been approved for full authorisation. If your application is approved, we will send you a letter with your UK Trader Scheme authorisation number.
You can then declare the goods you bring into Northern Ireland not ‘at risk’ if they are intended for end use or sale in the UK or Northern Ireland, where appropriate. You can use the Trader Support Service to help you make these declarations.
If HMRC rejects your application
If HMRC rejects your application, they’ll send you a letter. You’ll no longer be able to declare your goods not ‘at risk’. You can either:
- ask them to review the decision – the address to write to will be on your letter
- appeal to the tax tribunal