HMRC details new checks for Irish Sea freight

London, UK: Exporters in mainland Britain will need to fill in three electronic forms in order to send goods to Northern Ireland under Brexit checks.

These are the checks that prime minister Boris Johnson said would not apply to trade across the Irish Sea. From January, there will be a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

An HM Revenue & Customs document marked “sensitive”, seen by the Guardian newspaper, reveals that firms in Great Britain will be obliged to complete three rounds of customs, security and transit forms on all goods.

The electronic documents will need to be completed whether there is a Brexit trade deal or not and will apply to all suppliers. An 11-page slide presentation from HMRC, outlining the new system, says: “To achieve customs control, we need to ensure that all goods are presented and declared to customs.”

Under a new Goods Vehicle Movement Service system, hauliers or the owners of the freight will be obliged to lodge three types of electronic paperwork before being able to board a ferry from British ports.
The first paperwork applying to suppliers is an import declaration form setting out the customs code or codes for all the goods being transported to Northern Ireland.

Second, the supplier will have to complete a safety and security declaration, paperwork that is currently waived on all goods being sold within the EU’s single market.

Suppliers then have to provide the haulier with a transit accompanying document which must remain with the vehicle at all times so the EU can be guaranteed that the load that departs Great Britain is the same as the one that arrives.

While the goods going from GB to Northern Ireland remain in the UK market, they are being treated as exports and require this paperwork because of the unique arrangements made in the withdrawal agreement to avoid a border on the island of Ireland.

HMRC plans to streamline the system so that the three elements can be collated and lodged with the authorities, which will then generate a “goods movement reference” number for the haulier to present to the ferry operator. This will demonstrate that the cargo is being processed by customs and give port authorities information on how to treat arrivals.

Some trucks will be given the green light to their destination, others may have to be processed for tariffs if they are making an onward journey to the Republic of Ireland and those carrying food, drink and animal products will be subjected to health and diseases checks.

The Guardian reports that HMRC plans to trial the new system in November. The procedures will not apply on goods going from Northern Ireland to GB.

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