What is the Windsor Framework?

On 27 February 2023 the UK and EU agreed the Windsor Framework, providing a fundamentally new set of arrangements in three key areas; restoring the smooth flow of trade within the UK internal market by removing burdens that have disrupted East-West trade; safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the Union; and addressing the democratic deficit that was otherwise at the heart of the original Northern Ireland Protocol. These arrangements were adopted at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on 24 March 2023.

With this new agreement, the UK Government fully preserves its longstanding commitments to ensure Northern Ireland’s businesses have full unconditional and unfettered access to their most important market in Great Britain, while maintaining their privileged access to the whole of the EU market. This new approach, set out in the Windsor Framework, restores the balance needed to uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions. It puts in place a new legal and constitutional framework, changing the text of the treaty and scrapping a range of EU rules.

For more information, please refer to the Windsor Framework command paper.

When does the Windsor Framework come into effect?

The implementation of the Framework will happen in stages commencing in 2023 through into 2025, to provide businesses with time to adapt to new arrangements. Some arrangements are already in place, with other elements coming into effect from later this year and beyond, in accordance with the arrangements and conditions that the Framework sets out.

Due to this transitional period, new information will be staggered in accordance with the different elements of the framework going live. To accommodate this approach, we will frequently review and update this section to reflect any new information that has been released.

To stay up to date with the latest information available, please go to GOV.UK and search ‘Windsor Framework’.

What are the different elements that the Windsor Framework will introduce?

The agreement puts in place a full set of new arrangements including a new ‘green lane’ for movements of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This will mean that traders moving goods destined for Northern Ireland will be freed of unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties, using only ordinary commercial information rather than customs processes or complex certification requirements.

The agreement establishes a new UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS) for the movement of goods. This new scheme will significantly expand the range of businesses who can benefit; end the requirement for traders to provide customs commodity codes for each movement; scrap burdensome supplementary declarations; and ensure that businesses can therefore move their goods using the same type of commercial information as they already hold.

As of 30 September 2023, the UK Trader Scheme authorisation became invalid. You must therefore use the UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS) authorisation to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ if the applicable EU duty is greater than zero.

Please visit our UKIMS page for more information and guidance on how to apply.

As a result of the Windsor Framework, the Government is able to introduce a scheme to reimburse the payment of EU customs duties paid on goods moved into Northern Ireland that were not sold or used in the EU.

The scheme enables the full repayment of any such duties where the necessary evidence is provided and will be backdated to provide reimbursement for relevant duties from 1 January 2021. Duties can be repaid where traders are able to evidence that goods were sold or used in Northern Ireland, moved elsewhere within the United Kingdom, or exported outside of the UK or EU. This applies to goods moved since 2021. This new scheme came into effect on 30 June 2023 following the introduction of The Customs (Northern Ireland: Repayment And Remission) (Eu Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. This is an important part of delivering on the Government’s commitment in the Windsor Framework to support Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom customs territory.

Please visit GOV.UK for further information on eligibilities and how to apply.

If you move goods ‘at risk' into Northern Ireland, you may already be able to claim a waiver for customs duty which might otherwise be charged. This applies under the existing Customs Duty Waiver Scheme that the Government applies.

Currently, duty waivers are limited to a maximum of €200,000 (~£170,000) over three tax years. However, the Government will be raising this limit to increase the support available to businesses. That means that, from January 2024, this allowance is increasing to €275,000 (~£235,000) for most businesses.

This will apply to claims made by traders from 1 January 2024. This includes movements after 1 January 2024 and where traders want to retrospectively recover EU customs duty paid prior to 1 January 2024.

Other than an increase in the overall limit, there will be no change in how to claim a waiver under the scheme.

This scheme will also remain in effect once the new arrangements under the Windsor Framework for the movement of goods are applied. That means that waivers will continue to be available for traders’ moving goods in the red lane, when those arrangements come into effect from 30 September 2024

The Windsor Framework establishes a new way to move prepacked retail goods such as food, drink, cut flowers and pet food from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) into Northern Ireland.

It’s called the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme (NIRMS). The scheme started on 1 October 2023, replacing the existing Scheme for Temporary Agrifood Movements into Northern Ireland (STAMNI) from that point.

Any business that is involved in moving retail goods that will be sold in Northern Ireland to the final consumer needs to sign up for the scheme. For example, consignees, consignors or any organisation that owns a place of dispatch in Great Britain or a place of destination in Northern Ireland. You can call APHA on 03000 200 301 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm) to get assistance as part of signing up process.

Further information on the scheme and its requirements is available at the links below:

Under the agreement, plants moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will no longer be subject to the same prohibitions or certification requirements as third country goods face when moving into the EU. If you are a grower and/or trader, you could move any of the following:

  • Plants and seeds for planting (plants and seeds which will be grown on by professional growers or traded for retail sale)
  • Seed potatoes (for commercial growing)
  • Used agricultural and forestry machinery and vehicles

with a Northern Ireland Plant Health Label (NIPHL) from 1 October 2023. The NIPHL scheme makes sure checks for pests and diseases are carried out and goods can be traced. This means growers and traders can move these goods with a NIPHL and without a phytosanitary certificate. 

Goods can be moved with a Northern Ireland plant health label if the following requirements are met:

  1. The movement of goods is between an authorised professional operator in Great Britain and a registered professional operator in Northern Ireland.
  2. Goods must remain in Northern Ireland (i.e. no further movements to Ireland or other EU countries)
  3. Goods must have a valid NIPHL attached
  4. Growers and traders must be authorised to issue and print NIPHLs (for movements of seed potatoes, the competent authority will issue the NIPHL and growers and traders must be authorised to attach NIPHLs)

Full guidance can be found here, covering the details of:

  • Goods you can move with a Northern Ireland plant health label.
  • How to register as a professional operator.
  • How you will know if my business is registered as a Professional Operator.
  • How to get authorisation to issue, print or receive Northern Ireland plant health labels for plants for planting, seeds, and used agricultural and forestry machinery.
  • What you need to do before moving plants for planting or used agricultural and forestry machinery and vehicles to Northern Ireland.
  • Seed potatoes: How to get authorisation to attach Northern Ireland plant health labels.
  • What you need to do before moving seed potatoes to Northern Ireland.
    Information around when you will be inspected.
  • What you need to include on your Northern Ireland plant health label.

Under the Windsor Framework agreement, pet owners travelling with dogs, cats, and ferrets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland can now do so without needing extra health treatments or documentation from a vet. Completion of a lifelong pet travel document is required, and owners will sign a declaration stating that they will not move their pets into the European Union. There will be no routine additional checks by the Northern Ireland authorities; any checks carried out will be risk-based, focused on real-world welfare, disease or puppy smuggling risks.

For pets travelling Northern Ireland to Great Britain and back, no documentation, declarations, checks or health treatments will be required.

Please note that a customs declaration on TSS is not required for pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Please visit GOV.UK for further information.

The Windsor Framework agreement includes details about the requirements that will replace the current temporary arrangements for sending posts and parcels from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The new requirements are expected to be in place from the end of September 2024. Find out what you need to do when moving parcels from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the Windsor Framework from 30 September 2024.

Temporary arrangements for moving posts and parcels from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

HMRC has adopted a temporary approach to applying declaration requirements for the movement of goods in parcels (including by the Royal Mail Group and express carriers)

Declarations will usually be required where the goods are either:

  • Prohibited or restricted
  • Being sent from a business to another business where the value of the good is greater than £135. you can delay when you do this and you’ll be able to use Trader Support Service (TSS) to make declarations once required. Further details on how you’ll be able to submit this delayed declaration will be issued by HMRC in due course. You should take steps to avoid the risk of needing to pay tariffs unnecessarily on these goods when you submit your declarations, for instances considering applying to join the UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS) to declare goods ‘not at risk’.

If you are Northern Ireland businesses or individuals sending or receiving parcels to/ from Great Britain please visit GOV.UK for detailed guidance.

If you’re an express carrier and your consignment is controlled by the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) you should email: [email protected] about how to process goods movements eligible for these temporary requirements through GVMS.

If you’re an express carrier and consignment is inventory linked, you should speak to existing Community System Provider about how to process goods movements eligible for these temporary requirements through the inventory linked systems.

Do I need to do anything?

To take full advantage of the various schemes that have been developed as part of the Windsor Framework, you may be required to take some proactive steps. As the information becomes available, it is therefore essential that you review the associated eligibility criteria to identify whether a scheme is suitable for your specific trade scenario.

To gain access to benefits of the Customs ‘Green Lane’ when it opens in September 2024, you will need to be UK Internal Market Scheme authorised. The registration is now open. You can find out more about the requirements for the scheme here.

Any business that is involved in moving retail goods such as food, drink, cut flowers and pet food from Great Britain that will be sold in Northern Ireland to the final consumer needs to sign up for the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme to access simplified arrangements under the scheme.

f you are moving plants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland please review the eligibility criteria for the Northern Ireland Plant Health Label (NIPHL) scheme, which came into effect from 1 October 2023. This scheme gives growers and traders who meet the requirements a way to move these goods with a NIPHL and without a phytosanitary certificate.

Trader Support Service (TSS) Webinar

On 12 June 2023, the TSS delivered a webinar that provided an overview of the Windsor Framework. This included information on the changes that will accompany this agreement, including the benefits that will be introduced as part of the new green lane movements. The session also included fictitious trade examples to demonstrate how these changes will apply in different scenarios as the buyer or seller of goods.

Note: This video recording is accurate at the time of recording, however please refer to the written guidance on NICTA for the most up to date information.

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