This article sets out some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about green and red lanes, introduced as part of the Windsor Framework.
What is the purpose of the green lane?
The aim of the green lane is to make it easier for businesses who are importing goods into Northern Ireland from GB which are either going to remain in Northern Ireland or return to GB.
What benefits will the green lane bring Northern Ireland businesses?
From September 2024 businesses in Northern Ireland who can avail of the green lane will no longer be required to complete supplementary customs declarations on goods being imported from GB. Their goods will also no longer be subject to checks or tariff requirements upon arrival into Northern Ireland.
What information will be required for green lane shipments?
The only information required for green lane shipments will be standard commercial / shipping information. There will be no requirements for commodity codes and other customs information to be provided with each shipment.
Will businesses in Ireland be able to use the green lane?
Businesses located in Ireland who are importing goods via ports in Northern Ireland which are destined for Ireland will not be able to use the green lane as these goods will automatically be deemed as being "At Risk".
When will they be introduced?
There will be a phased introduction of the red and green lanes. On 1 October 2023 the UK government launched the UK Internal Market Scheme. This scheme allows an expanded list of traders to declare their goods "Not At Risk" and therefore not be required to pay tariffs.
From September 2024 businesses who move goods via the green lane will be able to take advantage of a reduced dataset, which means that there will no longer be a requirement to complete supplementary declarations and collate information such as commodity codes for each individual shipment.
Am I eligible for the green lane?
To be eligible to use the green lane businesses in Northern Ireland will need to demonstrate:
- That their human and technical resources are permanently present in Northern Ireland.
- Their goods are sold to, or provided for final use by, end consumers in the UK.
- That all customs, commercial and transport records, and information is available or accessible in Northern Ireland.
What evidence will I need?
If using the green lane, you will require evidence of the following:
- Where you source goods from,
- How and where they will be used or sold,
- That you have administrative organisation and internal controls which are suitable for:
- The management of the flow of goods
- Preventing and correcting errors
- Detecting and preventing illegal activities
- Operate in line with UK accounting principles
- Protect against loss of information
- Allow for cross reference between goods movement, stock control, sales and purchase information
- Have records in an accessible format if requested (can be either paper based or digital).
I’m a small business. What if I don’t have large inventory management systems?
If you are a small business, you do not require large IT systems to comply with UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS) requirements. Instead, you can use information such as sales and purchase records to illustrate that your goods are "Not At Risk".
You should ensure this information is retained for five years following the import of the goods.
If I only need to provide standard commercial information, how will HMRC verify my goods are "Not At Risk"?
At the point of entry into Northern Ireland only standard commercial and transport documentation will be required. Should they wish to verify whether your goods are "Not At Risk" HMRC may visit your premises to examine your records.
What if I move goods for processing?
If you move goods which are subject to commercial processing, there are additional requirements that you will need to be aware of. Should the most recent annual revenue of your business be under £2 million you will be able to use the UK Internal Market Scheme.
In most cases if your most recent annual revenue is over £2 million you will be required to use the red lane. There are however some exceptions to this.
What sectors are exempt from the £2 million revenue threshold?
The following sectors are exempt from the revenue threshold:
- Food for end sale to UK consumers.
- Construction where the imported goods form part of a permanent structure in Northern Ireland by the importer or one subsequent entity.
- Direct provision of health or care services by either the importer or one subsequent entity.
- Final use of animal feed on premises in Northern Ireland by importer or one subsequent entity.
What is meant by the term one subsequent entity?
If you are using the green lane based on one of the exempt sectors above, you will need to demonstrate that either you are the final user of the product, or that there is only one subsequent entity in Northern Ireland who will be the final user.
There are several different types of evidence which can be used when you are not responsible for the destination. These include:
- Written declaration signed by the customer that the goods are staying in Northern Ireland.
- Commercial contracts and purchase records showing final use in UK.
- Evidence that the customer only sells goods for final use in the UK.
My goods will move under the red lane. What are my requirements?
If you are moving goods into Northern Ireland which are "At Risk" they will enter via the red lane. In this scenario businesses will be required to submit customs declarations and pay all applicable tariffs. This is a very similar process to the current requirements.
How can I apply for the UK Internal Market Scheme?
Businesses who have previously registered for the UK Trader Scheme will be auto enrolled in the UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS). If not auto enrolled, businesses can apply for authorisation for the UK Internal Market Scheme.
What evidence will I need to be able to apply to the UKIMS?
To be able to avail of the UK Internal Market Scheme businesses will need to provide evidence of all records, systems and controls in place to illustrate that goods are "Not At Risk". This can include:
- Logistics and inventory control systems.
- Details of internal administrative processes.
- Commercial and transport records.
Will I still be able to use the Trader Support Service?
Businesses in Northern Ireland will continue to be able to use the Trader Support Service to support the completion of all import requirements for both green and red lane movements. Businesses who would like to register with the Trader Support Service can visit GOV.UK to sign up for the Trader Support Service.
Do you need further assistance?
InterTradeIreland support can be accessed by engaging with our chat function. You may also be eligible for fully funded consultancy advice, subject to criteria.
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Article reviewed: October 2023