Trading with our Irish Neighbours

David Rae

Ireland is currently our 6th largest trading partner and accounts for 5% of total UK trade.

If you work in a mainland UK business that is interested in exporting, then Ireland should be one of the first places on your list.

It’s a fantastic place to trade with for UK businesses as there are no language barriers, it’s close with strong transport links and the regulations are relatively similar.

You can get your products delivered the next day through mainland UK ports which is essential to resupply customers such as major retail chains or multiple grocers at short notice.

As St Patrick’s day is tomorrow, we wanted to answer a few questions around regulations and customs that you may have if you want to export to Ireland.


How is trading with The Republic or Ireland different from trading with Northern Ireland?

The Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Union so the import requirements are the same as with any EU country.

If you want to trade with customers in Northern Ireland, then things are a little different as it is a part of the UK but has a trade border with the Republic.


What do I need to export to The Republic of Ireland from the UK?

You will need a commercial invoice that describes the items on the load and their commodity codes and these will need to be accurate to prevent hold ups at customs. If you want to check commodity codes, then you can consult with your Freight Forwarder or look it up here.

Both the UK and the Irish company will have to register for an EORI number or Economic Operators Registration and Identification number. This is how the EU identifies companies which are importing or exporting to the EU.


What do I need to export to Northern Ireland from the UK?

Even though Northern Ireland is part of the UK you will still need to customs clear your consignments and make a security declaration. The easiest way of doing this is by using the Trader Support Service or TSS.

It is still possible to move goods to Northern Ireland without being signed up to TSS but that means a more detailed approach and will cost more as a result. However, you will not need to pay duty if your goods are in free circulation in the UK already.

Like exports to the EU you will need two EORI numbers but in this case, it is GB EORI for your company and the XI EORI for your Northern Ireland customer

Does my Irish customer need to handle customs through their own agent?

There are several incoterm options including DDP which is important when selling as many companies will not want to have to find a customs agent themselves and administer the payments.

You can do this by working with either a Customs Agent or a Freight Forwarder who can use a global customs number. Effectively this means that they are paying for the customs and you reimburse them so that you can avoid charging the customer.

There are also blended options where the customer only needs to handle some parts of the load and you can handle the rest. Therefore you can tailor the transport solution to fit the capabilities of your customer.


Can I import into The Republic of Ireland through Northern Ireland?

It is possible to move goods through Northern Ireland and then into The Republic of Ireland but you have to declare that you are doing that on entry. What you cannot do is import your products to Northern Ireland without paying duty and then export to Ireland or the EU. That would make your consignment liable for full import duty.


Do I charge VAT on sales to Ireland from the UK?

VAT is payable at the time that your goods get to the border, but it is possible to pay later if you are set up on the deferred payment system. This will have a positive effect on your working capital as you are not waiting to claim it back.

Are there rules around transporting restricted goods to Ireland?

There are restrictions on the types of goods that you can import but for the most part it is similar to the UK ‘s. There are the usual extra Phytosanitary or vet checks for anything of plant or animal origin as with the rest of the EU.

If you are worried about whether your products are restricted then you can consult with your freight company or check here.


My loads keep getting held at Irish customs. Is there anything I can do?

Baxter Freight had an interesting case recently where a customer had an issue importing products which contain melamine to The Republic of Ireland. The customs office would hold the load virtually every time even though it had passed before and the products had not changed.

Our solution was to find a customs agent that we could work with who would be able to declare the products the same as previous loads and therefore be liable to less checks. Interestingly the perfect partner that we found was in Northern Ireland.

Baxter Freight can get your products into any Irish customer with next day delivery from anywhere in the UK. Get in touch to find out how we can make your Irish exports possible!

Olivia Hegarty

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