Article: A guide to trade routes and customs paperwork

In this article businesses can find out about important trading requirements, trade information and read useful FAQs for cross-border trade in Ireland and Northern Ireland.


Trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland
Trade between Northern Ireland and GB
Trade between Ireland and GB
Trade between Northern Ireland and Rest of World
Further information
Useful links


Trade routes are long-distance logistical routes used for the commercial transport of cargo. In this article businesses can learn more about various trade routes and read useful FAQs for cross-border trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

Trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland

As part of the Withdrawal Agreement in 2020 and its Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland both the UK and the EU Governments agreed that there would be no customs requirements on goods moving in either direction between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Whilst further changes are being implemented as part of the Windsor Framework there will continue to be no customs requirements for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

As with trade moving across the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there will be no customs requirements for goods moving directly between Northern Ireland and the rest of the EU. This also applies to goods that are moving from Northern Ireland via Ireland to another EU member state.

However, whilst there are no customs requirements for moving goods between Northern Ireland and the EU, businesses should ensure that they are aware if they are required to complete Intrastat declarations for these goods movements.

Intrastat is a system used by the EU to collate statistics on trade between different member states. Whilst not a member of the EU as Northern Ireland has access to the EU Single Market for Goods there will be a requirement for businesses in Northern Ireland to complete Intrastat declarations should certain thresholds be met.

The Intrastat thresholds are as follows:

  • Arrivals: More than £500,000 worth of goods from the EU into Northern Ireland.
  • Despatches: Moves more than £250,000 worth of goods from Northern Ireland to the EU.

UK Trade Info has information on how to register to submit Intrastat declarations.

Trade between Northern Ireland and GB

Since January 2021 under the Northern Ireland Protocol, businesses importing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain have faced customs requirements. Whilst the exact requirements vary depending on the goods being imported, typically this has involved the completion of customs declarations, and if the goods are “At Risk” the payment of tariffs upon import. 

The Windsor Framework has announced some updates regarding the movement of goods. From September 2023 a red lane and a green lane will be introduced for goods movements. Goods which are bound for Northern Ireland only will be able to avail of the green lane. Whilst goods destined for Ireland or deemed to be “At Risk” of entering Ireland will enter via the red lane.

As part of the Windsor Framework, there will be more reliance placed on live data sharing instead of customs declarations. Businesses that import goods into Northern Ireland which are "Not at Risk" will be able to avail of a new UK internal market scheme. Once registered for this scheme businesses will be able to use the green lane and will no longer be required to pay tariffs, complete customs declarations, or provide confirmation of the country of origin.

The current grace period for parcels will remain in place meaning that for now there will be no customs requirements on parcels being imported into Northern Ireland. From October 2024 B2B parcels entering Northern Ireland from GB will enter via the green lane. 

Businesses importing goods into Northern Ireland should continue to make use of the Trader Support Service (TSS). The TSS is a free-to-use portal designed to support businesses in Northern Ireland complete customs declarations when importing goods from GB.

Next steps

  1. Businesses should continue to use the TSS to complete supplementary declarations on goods imported from GB. These should be completed by the fourth working day of the month following the import of goods.

  2. If moving goods that are "Not at Risk", and not already registered, businesses should apply for authorisation to use the UK Trader Scheme. GOV.UK have information on how to apply for the UK Trader Scheme.

  3. Businesses should continue to check for updates regarding the Windsor Framework.

Trade between Ireland and GB

Businesses in Ireland that are seeking to export to GB are required to complete customs declarations on all goods exported from Ireland. This will include an export declaration through the Irish Revenue Automated Export System upon departure from Ireland and an import declaration upon import into GB via HMRC’s Customs Declarations Service (CDS).
In addition to the completion of declarations, it is important that businesses understand any tariff or quota requirements. As part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU, there will be no tariffs and no quotas on goods moving between Ireland and GB if businesses comply with all relevant rules of origin

In addition to customs declarations and origin requirements, businesses should consider if the products they are seeking to export are subject to any prohibitions or other restrictions. Find out more information about these prohibitions and restrictions in this PDF from

 The Revenue has provided detailed information on what additional requirements you should prepare for.  

Some additional supports are provided below: 

Irish businesses exporting or importing animals or products of animal origin (including fish), to and from GB should refer to our article on SPS Checks.

Trade between Northern Ireland and Rest of World

Businesses importing goods directly from a country outside of the UK or the EU will continue to face customs requirements when importing into Northern Ireland which must be completed through the Customs Declaration Service, CDS. 

Further information

Return to the Trade in Goods and Customs section of our Cross-Border Trade Hub to access a selection of frequently asked questions, or simply enter the keyword for your query in the search bar to find an answer.

Useful links

  • GOV.UK:

Information about how to get an EORI number in Northern Ireland

Look up commodity codes, import duties, taxes and controls in NI

Information on the new computerised transit system

Check when you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return

Claim VAT refunds in Northern Ireland or the EU, if you’re established in Northern Ireland or in the EU

Check if you need to declare goods you bring into or take out of the UK

Guidance on importing live animals or animal products

Comply with UK REACH: submit and manage chemical registrations and notifications

Find out what types of Authorised Economic Operator status you can apply for

Apply to delay or pay less duty on goods you import to process or repair

Trading and moving goods in and out of Northern Ireland

Apply to access Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight

Register to make an entry summary declaration in Northern Ireland

Movement Assistance Scheme: get help with moving agrifood goods to Northern Ireland

  • Other resources

HMRC email updates, videos and webinars about importing and exporting

NI Customs and Trade Academy: How to group goods under one commodity code

DAERA-NI: Introduction to importing animals and animal products

DAERA-NI: Guidance for the Collection and Movement of SPS Goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland through Groupage


Article reviewed: May 2023