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Sign up to Trader Support Service for Northern Ireland trade

30 September 2020: The ‘support service’ for Northern Ireland trade has gone live and businesses are urged to sign up. It will support traders with guidance and can submit declarations on their behalf.

The government has launched the Trader Support Service (TSS) to guide traders moving goods – including between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – under the Northern Ireland Protocol, due to come into effect on 1 January 2021. The Northern Ireland Protocol aims to enable all Northern Ireland businesses to continue to have unfettered access to the whole UK market. The UK government has pledged that customs formalities between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland will be minimal and limited, but some uncertainties remain.

The UK government says it is their ‘unequivocal position’ that export declarations will not be required for goods leaving Northern Ireland for the rest of the UK. This approach will require formal agreement between the UK and the EU, although the UK government is also pursuing this unilaterally in the Internal Market bill currently progressing through Parliament. 

New customs processes will be required in some circumstances, which the UK government says are ‘extremely limited’ – for example relating to international commitments relating to the trade in endangered species. The support service can be used to complete those customs or safety and security digital declarations that do apply. 

The service is free and includes continually updated online training sessions and webinars. Educational material will also be available via the TSS to those importing goods into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world.

TSS has been backed by up to £200m of UK government funding and is being delivered by a consortium led by Fujitsu, which was selected as the supplier following an open procurement process. The consortium has significant expertise in this area, including with the Institute of Export and International Trade, an existing provider of customs education, and the Customs Clearance Consortium, an established customs intermediary.

It is hoped that TSS will help businesses transition to new trading arrangements, protect continuity of trade and smooth EU exit.

Traders can sign up to TSS at gov.uk

Find a range of resources to help you prepare for future trade during the post-Brexit transition period on ICAEW’s Brexit Hub.

ICAEW has also prepared a quick-start guide for businesses preparing for the end of the transition period. For more details click here.