This guide gives an introduction to TSS and importing goods into Northern Ireland (NI). This guide is helpful for an overview of NI protocol trade and key customs procedures.

Contents

How the Trader Support Service (TSS) can support you
Changes to goods movements into Northern Ireland since 1 January 2021
What this means for traders
Support offered by the Trader Support Service (TSS)
How to get started with TSS
What you need to do before you start moving goods
Determine if your goods are 'at risk' or not 'at risk'
Determine if you are moving standard or controlled goods
Determine if you have to pay custom duty
How to determine which declaration path you need to follow
The TSS simplified journey
The TSS Full Frontier journey
What you need to do to complete the TSS customs process
Preparing to move goods
Completing an Entry Summary Declaration
Completing your customs declaration
Generating a Goods Movement Reference and transport goods
Paying duty if necessary
Haulier checklist: What do I need to know?
Importer checklist: What do I need to know?
I need to know more

How the Trader Support Service (TSS) can support you

Changes to goods movements into Northern Ireland since 1 January 2021

Since 1 January 2021 and the introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol, there are new steps you must take when moving goods into Northern Ireland:

  • Customs declarations and safety and security declarations are now required on goods being imported to Northern Ireland, a requirement laid out in the Northern Ireland Protocol
  • Additional requirements are in place for certain types of goods
  • Duty may need to be paid on goods deemed 'at risk' of moving into the European Union (EU)

What this means for traders

These changes mean that traders now need to:

  • Submit information about goods and movements before goods are sent
  • Check if the goods you are moving require additional authorisations and documents
  • Check if your goods attract duty and what you can do to be exempt from payment

Support offered by the Trader Support Service (TSS)

The Trader Support Service (TSS) offers a simple and free-to-use service to help you move goods to Northern Ireland.

When importing goods to Northern Ireland, customs declarations are required. TSS helps you understand and meet new customs requirements by providing a portal where traders and their intermediaries can submit required customs declarations.

TSS helps you meet these requirements by providing support and guidance online and by phone, including:

How to get started with TSS

To move goods into Northern Ireland, you will need a Great Britain Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (GB EORI) and a Northern Ireland Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (XI EORI). Please see the guidance on how to get an EORI number on GOV.UK for more information.

You can register for TSS as a trader or an agent acting as an intermediary.

There are two key roles in the TSS process:

  • Haulier: the organisation responsible for ensuring your movement to NI is authorised before the goods arrive at the frontier. (This may be performed by a freight forwarder or carrier.)
  • Importer: the organisation responsible for the import declaration. (This is either the sender or receiver of goods, most often the business receiving the goods in Northern Ireland.)

Northern Ireland Economic Operators Registration and Identification numbers (XI EORIs) are only issued to businesses that are established or have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland, where required. Those not established can still register in specific cases:

  • To lodge a safety and security declaration (also known as an Entry Summary Declaration), or use TSS to do so
  • To lodge a customs declaration for temporary storage declaration
  • To lodge a customs declaration for temporary admission or re-export declaration where they would need to get a guarantee
  • To lodge a transit declaration

What you need to do before you start moving goods

Determine if your goods are 'at risk' or not 'at risk'

What are 'at risk' and not 'at risk' goods?

Goods which can be shown to remain in Northern Ireland and the UK's customs territory will not be subject to EU tariffs.

  • Goods are deemed 'at risk' when there is a risk they will be moved out of the UK domestic market into the EU
  • Goods are not 'at risk' if they are going to remain or be consumed within the UK domestic market, or if they are eligible for preferential rates under Free Trade Agreement rules of origin requirements

It is the Importer's responsibility to determine if goods moving into Northern Ireland are 'at risk' of moving in the European Union.

Read the guidance on declaring goods you bring into Northern Ireland not at risk' of moving to the EU on GOV.UK for more support.

How to declare goods not 'at risk'

UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) authorised traders can declare their goods not 'at risk' on the TSS portal, and benefit from duty exemptions. Read the GOV.UK guidance on declaring goods you bring into Northern Ireland 'not at risk' for more information.

Traders can also declare goods as not 'at risk' without being UK Trader Scheme authorised if moving goods with zero tariff from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Determine if you are moving standard or controlled goods

In order to comply with customs and legal requirements, you need to establish if any of the goods you are moving are controlled goods.

Within TSS, controlled goods are defined as those that are subject to special regulation, certification, licensing or other approvals. This includes not only HMRC customs-controlled goods, such as excise goods, but also goods which are subject to authorisations by any other Government Department, such as sanitary and phytosanitary goods.

Both the Importer and Haulier are responsible for determining if goods they are moving are controlled.

Sanitary and phytosanitary goods

Sanitary and phytosanitary goods are a category of controlled goods which must comply with EU rules on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) products and animals trade, as per the Northern Ireland Protocol. Such goods are regulated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in GB and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland.

How to determine if your goods are controlled

There are several ways of finding out if your goods are controlled:

Note: There are some goods where permits or certifications may not be directly required, such as excise, but fall under the remit of controlled goods. For example, this could include some food products due to the percentage of ingredients or the cooking process or the use of the product is being imported for research or diagnostic purposes (e.g., blood samples, swabs, food samples for analysis).

In some instances, goods are classified as controlled according to the guidance, but are not classified as controlled when moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. To check if this applies to your goods, refer to the GOV.UK guidance on the UK Global Tariff.

Determine if you have to pay custom duty

Tariffs and customs duty are taxes imposed by governments on imported goods. The Northern Ireland Protocol confirmed that only goods at risk of entering the EU's Single Market (i.e., not those remaining in Northern Ireland) should pay EU tariffs/Customs Duty.

Different tariff exemptions and relief options are available, shown in the table below.

It is the responsibility of the Importer to determine the duties and taxes due on a goods movement.

Tariff option Description
UK Trader Scheme Traders authorised on the UK Trader Scheme do not have to pay tariffs when moving goods declared not 'at risk'
Preferential tariff Preferential tariff rates enable all traders to pay zero or reduced tariff duty rates on goods proven to be of UK origin
Customs Duty waivers A Customs Duty waiver enables all traders to waive up to €200,000 in duty payments over 3 tax years. Used when moving low volumes of goods infrequently
Duty relief by procedure Certain customs procedures allow all traders with appropriate authorisations to claim duty suspension or relief subject to certain conditions


How you can claim tariff duty exemption

Tariff duty exemptions can be claimed when completing your customs declaration on the TSS Portal. Please refer to the tariff guide on NICTA for more detailed information about tariff options.

How to determine which declaration path you need to follow

TSS fully supports two main customs declarations paths, which cover the vast majority of goods movements to Northern Ireland. The declaration path you will need to follow may be determined by where you are moving goods from and the type or value of goods.

The two main customs declaration paths are:

  • The TSS simplified journey
    The TSS simplified journey allows businesses to move goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland using a simplified data set before goods movement and a full electronic customs declaration after goods movements. The majority of goods movements from GB to NI can use this declaration path
  • The TSS Full Frontier journey
    The TSS Full Frontier Declaration path requires traders to submit all information on their declaration and pay any necessary duties at the same time, generally before the goods move into Northern Ireland. Movements from Rest of World excluding the European Union or movements into inventory-linked locations have to use the TSS Full Frontier Declaration path. While all movements from GB to NI can also use this declaration path, it is recommended that you use the TSS simplified journey where possible

The vast majority of traders will follow the TSS simplified journey when importing goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

However, some goods movements may require an alternative declaration path. Alternate declaration paths supported (or partially supported) by TSS include:

  • Oral and by conduct Declarations: Some goods, such as those intended for re-export, may be declared using an oral or by conduct declaration, which does not require a written declaration. See the Oral Declarations Checklist on NICTA for more information
  • Goods movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland via Ireland (Transit procedure): If you are moving goods to Northern Ireland via Ireland, you will need to consider the Transit procedure. See the transit guide on NICTA for more information
  • Goods movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (either direct or via Ireland): customs declarations are only required in some circumstances for goods movements from NI to GB. See the NICTA guide on NI to GB movements for more information

You can use the Trader Journey Assistant on NICTA for help on understanding which declarations you need to submit for your journey.

If your journey is not covered here or if you have any questions about declaration requirements for your journey, please reach out to the TSS Contact Centre.

The TSS simplified journey

The main steps to the TSS simplified journey are:

  1. Prepare to move goods
  2. Complete an Entry Summary Declaration and a Simplified Frontier Declaration on the TSS Portal (the Simplified Frontier Declaration is usually auto-generated by TSS)
  3. Generate a Goods Movement Reference (if moving goods by Roll on Roll Off)
  4. Move goods to Northern Ireland
  5. Declare imports with a Supplementary Declaration on the TSS Portal
  6. Pay duty and other charges, if necessary, on TSS
  7. Submit a Final Supplementary Declaration (done automatically for you by TSS)

A visualisation of the TSS simplified journey can be seen below:

The TSS Full Frontier journey

The main steps to the TSS Full Frontier journey are usually:

  1. Prepare to move goods
  2. Complete an Entry Summary Declaration on TSS or equivalent safety and security declaration
  3. Complete a Full Frontier Declaration and pay duty and other charges, if necessary, on TSS
  4. If moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland via Roll on Roll Off, generate a Goods Movement Reference
  5. Move goods to Northern Ireland

An example visualisation of the TSS Full Frontier Journey can be seen below. Note: Full Frontier Declarations may also be submitted after goods movement for air and maritime journeys. See the Full Frontier Declaration guide for full details.

What you need to do to complete the TSS customs process

There are five steps that apply to most goods movements using TSS:

  1. Preparing to move goods
  2. Completing an Entry Summary Declaration
  3. Completing your customs declaration
  4. Generating a Goods Movement Reference and transporting goods
  5. Paying duties if necessary

Preparing to move goods

Before you start your goods movements, you should perform the following steps:

  1. Haulier and Importer both apply for a GB and XI EORI
  2. Register online for the Trader Support Service (TSS)
  3. Check if your goods are deemed 'at risk' or not 'at risk'
  4. Check if you are moving standard or 'controlled' goods
  5. Check if you can benefit from duty exemptions

Both the Haulier and Importer are involved in preparing for a goods movement.

A visualisation of the steps to prepare to move goods can be seen below:

Both the Importer and Haulier will receive an individual GB and XI EORI number. Make sure you update your TSS profile with the relevant EORI numbers prior to moving goods and submitting any declarations on TSS.

Things to remember:

  • Use the controlled goods guidance on NICTA to find out if you are moving non-controlled or controlled goods. Read the section above on determining if you are moving standard or controlled goods for additional support to get started
  • Make sure you have the correct certificates and licences if you're moving controlled goods, which are not excise goods
  • If you're an Importer, ensure you keep a record of goods within each movement
  • Traders importing goods from the Rest of World excluding European Union also require GB and XI EORI numbers to submit their declaration via TSS

For further information and help:

Completing an Entry Summary Declaration

The Entry Summary Declaration provides UK customs and Border Force with pre-arrival information on goods, for safety and security purposes.

You obtain an Entry Summary Declaration by populating the form on the TSS portal. The declaration must be completed on TSS before any physical movement of goods. Note: This does not apply if your goods movement is exempt. You can find out if your goods movement is exempt by checking if you need to make an Entry Summary Declaration on GOV.UK.

The Haulier (or party acting as the haulier) holds responsibility for completing the Entry Summary Declaration or equivalent safety and security declaration.

After submitting the Entry Summary Declaration, the Haulier will receive an Entry Summary Movement Reference Number via email. Importers will need to use this reference number when completing their declaration.

Things to remember:

  • Know your importer and their GB and XI EORI number
  • If following the TSS simplified journey, ensure the importer is registered on TSS to receive an auto-generated Simplified Frontier Declaration. NOTE: this only applies to the TSS simplified journey. For journeys requiring Full Frontier Declarations, you can find further detail in the Entry Summary Declaration and Full Frontier Declaration guidance on NICTA
  • Ensure you have movement and goods data available (e.g., journey details, goods description, licenses for controlled goods)
  • There is a process for groupage transport, data can be submitted at consignment level and consolidated pre-movement

For further information and help:

Completing your customs declaration

Before you start, make sure you have confirmed which is the correct declaration path to follow and communicate this with your haulier.

It is the responsibility of the Importer to ensure all required customs declarations are completed.

Customs declarations on the TSS simplified journey

If you are following the TSS simplified journey, TSS will usually auto-generate a Simplified Frontier Declaration for you from the information provided in the ENS Declaration. The Simplified Frontier Declaration is the first part of the customs declaration and is made before goods movement using a simplified data set.

Once your goods have moved, the Importer will receive a notification to complete a Supplementary Declaration. The Supplementary Declaration requires a full data set and is always completed after the goods move. It is used to close the customs journey and pay any required duties and other charges. Submission of the Supplementary Declaration in TSS is required by 9pm on the fourth working day of the month following the goods movement.

TSS will automatically submit a Final Supplementary Declaration on your behalf to HMRC, detailing the number of Supplementary Declarations finalised for a given reporting period.

Customs declarations on the TSS Full Frontier journey

If you are following the TSS Full Frontier journey, you will need to complete a Full Frontier Declaration. This is generally done prior to good movement, but exact requirements can vary based on your specific journey and mode of transport (e.g., air vs maritime). Please review guidance on Full Frontier Declarations on NICTA for an in-depth overview.

Things to remember:

  • If following the TSS simplified journey, remember to complete your Supplementary Declaration once your goods have arrived in NI
  • If you are moving goods on the TSS Full Frontier journey, review guidance on Full Frontier Declarations to determine when you need to submit your declaration
  • If you are moving goods from GB to NI under special procedures, you should read the guidance on special procedures before submitting your declaration to check for any specific requirements for your chosen procedure
  • If moving goods from GB to NI via IE, you will follow the transit procedure
  • If moving goods from NI to GB (either direct or via IE), review guidance on movements from NI to GB
  • Some goods, such as those intended for re-export, may be eligible for an oral or by conduct declaration

Generating a Goods Movement Reference and transport goods

A Goods Movement Reference is a reference number and barcode created pre-movement of goods. A Goods Movement Reference is required for any goods movements which are moving via Roll on Roll off (RoRo). It is the responsibility of the Haulier to ensure a Goods Movement Reference is generated for any RoRo movements.

Hauliers create a Goods Movement Reference on the Goods Vehicle Movement Service for each vehicle and movement. Hauliers will require the Entry Summary Declaration Movement Reference Number and the declaration Movement Reference Number (supplied by TSS via email) to create a Goods Movement Reference.

Hauliers will then receive a GMR number and a barcode via email. The driver must present this barcode at the port of departure or they will not be allowed to board. The driver must present for relevant checks if their consignment is selected.

Things to remember:

  • Ensure you enter the correct reference numbers in the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, including the GB EORI number
  • Ensure the driver transporting goods has the Goods Movement Reference barcode and knows if the vehicle has been selected for checks
  • If you're moving goods via Ireland, e.g. the Dublin port, follow the Transit procedure
  • Oral Declarations may also require a Goods Movement Reference

For further information and help:

Paying duty if necessary

Depending on the type of goods you are moving, you may be eligible for schemes to reduce duty payment. Such schemes include UK Trader Scheme authorisation, preferential tariff rates, Customs Duty waiver, relief and suspense procedures.

HMRC will calculate if a duty payment is required for your goods, based on the information in your declaration (either Supplementary Declaration or Full Frontier Declaration).

The Importer holds responsibility for checking if any duty payment is necessary.

Importers (including agents acting as intermediaries) can make any required duty payments on the TSS Portal.

Most payments for movements using the TSS simplified journey must be made by 9pm on the fourth working day of the month following goods movement. However, different payment deadlines may apply (e.g., this deadline does not apply to excise goods). Check the calendar to know when you need to pay. View the calendar to check the payment deadlines relevant to you.

Things to remember:

  • If you use the TSS Duty Deferment Account, making payment closes the import process
  • If you are using your own Duty Deferment Account, the charge is applied and taken by HMRC via direct debit
  • If you move goods frequently, consider applying for a Duty Deferment Account and customs comprehensive guarantee, if required

For further information and help:

Haulier checklist: What do I need to know?

Action Frequency
Obtain GB and XI EORI number for your organisation One-off
Register for TSS
Register for the Goods Vehicle Movement Service
Obtain Importer's GB and XI EORI number For every movement
Obtain Exporter's GB and XI EORI number (if unknown, indicate on form)
Prepare journey details including addresses, place(s) of loading and unloading
Prepare description of all items you are moving (e.g., number of packages, total weight)
Identify if you are moving controlled goods to determine relevant documentation
Obtain vehicle details
Obtain Entry Summary Movement Reference Number and Simplified Frontier Declaration EORI and/or Simplified Frontier Declaration Movement Reference Number

Note: For guidance on Reference Numbers and the Goods Movement Reference under the Full Frontier Declaration, please consult the NICTA guidance on creating a GMR in GVMS, and the Full Frontier Declaration section of the Data Guide on NICTA

Generate Goods Movement Reference
Have Goods Movement Reference barcode to hand
Prepare for physical and document checks (if selected) - Only for controlled goods

 

Importer checklist: What do I need to know?

Action Frequency
Obtain GB and XI EORI number for your organisation One-off
Register for TSS
Check eligibility for UK Trader Scheme
Check if you can claim a tariff waiver if your goods are 'at risk' of moving into the EU or if your goods are eligible for any duty suspensions
Understand the rules of origin of your goods (e.g., where your goods come from) For every movement
Prepare delivery details including addresses, place(s) of loading and unloading
Obtain details of your goods (e.g., item mass, package marks, types of package)
Determine if goods are 'at risk'
Determine if goods constitute 'controlled goods' and provide haulier with information on goods (e.g., licences, certificates) - only for controlled goods
Determine which declaration route is required to move goods
Identify commodity codes for your goods
Determine the procedure codes for your goods
Pay duty or other charges, if applicable

 

I need to know more

There are additional guides available on NICTA to support you with trade into and out of Northern Ireland:

You can also consult the TSS Contact Centre for support on 0800 060 8888.

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