24 October 2023
The new green lane system for British goods sent to Northern Ireland is the first significant step to replacing the Northern Ireland Protocol. Launched at the start of this month, the system will reduce red tape for British products entering Northern Ireland, whereas goods crossing the border to the Republic of Ireland will use the red lane system, meaning they face customs controls and other checks at Northern Ireland ports. The agreement keeps Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market for goods, unlike Great Britain.
To be eligible to use the green lane, businesses will need to register online as a trusted trader under the United Kingdom Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS). Once authorised, businesses can declare goods as ‘not at risk’ if they are brought into Northern Ireland for sale or final use by end consumers in Northern Ireland.
Large businesses and supermarkets that are members of an existing UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) will be contacted before being moved onto UKIMS and a wider range of businesses will also qualify for UKIMS, including those based in Great Britain with no physical premises in Northern Ireland.
One main advantage is that businesses shipping goods through the green lane will no longer have to provide a supplementary declaration, an entry form which previously had to be completed after goods had arrived from Great Britain. The government has also committed to retaining the Trader Support Service, which offers a free of charge support service for businesses with their trade paperwork. This is due to the many nuances with the new green and red lane system, such as types of customers, supply chain routes and regulatory requirements, all impacting the level of compliance and paperwork required.
The main changes for businesses and consumers are summarised below:
- Traders moving food by using the green lane, will only need to complete a single certificate for each movement rather than multiple certificates for each shipment.
- The introduction of ‘Not for EU’ labels on food products sold in Northern Ireland will be rolled out by July 2025, with financial support from the government available for businesses.
- For online shoppers, a new set of arrangements for the movement of parcels will apply, enabling consumers to send and receive parcels from Great Britain to Northen Ireland without the need for a customs declaration.
- The Temporary Agrifood Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI) is being replaced by the Retail Movement Scheme, which will remove the need for unnecessary checks and certification requirements.
While these changes will require time for traders and consumers to adjust, this will support a more streamlined and practical approach on the movement of goods intended to remain in Northern Ireland. Green lane goods will be freed of completing lengthy supplementary declarations and will only require commercial information such as description of the goods and their values. For goods that do not qualify to access the green lane, such as traders who cannot be certain of the final destination when first entering goods into Northern Ireland, traders will have access to a new comprehensive tariff reimbursement scheme where they can evidence that those goods did not enter the EU.
The Windsor Framework has already introduced the same VAT, alcohol duty and energy tax rules as the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland, which did not exist under the Northern Ireland Protocol, so it will be interesting to see how the trade community in Northern Ireland reacts to these latest arrangements, especially in terms of the reduced administrative burden. The early stages of how this is managed will be key and will be the barometer of any initial success.