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‘At risk’ goods, charged with the applicable EU rate of duty, are at the heart of the complexity of post-Brexit trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union, particularly affecting the movement between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Windsor Framework serves as a pivotal agreement that regulates the movement of goods, influencing how businesses handle customs declarations today. This article delves into the key aspects of this framework and provides guidance on managing trade under these new regulations.

The Windsor Framework Overview

The so-called Windsor Framework represents a crucial agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Established to regulate the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this framework impacts how businesses must approach customs declarations and duties, particularly focusing on the classification of goods as ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’ of moving to the EU.

Understanding the Windsor Framework is essential for businesses involved in trade across these borders, as it dictates both the procedural and financial aspects of importing goods into Northern Ireland under the new post-Brexit trade regulations. This is especially important when goods need to be defined as ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’. Let’s deal with each in turn.

Defining ‘At Risk’ Cargo

In the realm of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the designation of goods as ‘at risk’ of moving into the European Union from Northern Ireland holds significant import. This designation is fundamental for determining the appropriate customs duties and regulatory compliance. Therefore, it becomes imperative for businesses involved in the transference of goods across these regions to understand precisely what ‘at risk’ means in this context.

‘At risk’ goods are those considered likely to be transported onward to the European Union after their initial entry into Northern Ireland. In effect, this means goods that are likely to travel from Northern Ireland into the Republic or any other EU country. This classification directly influences the duty regime applicable to such goods, dictating whether EU tariffs are to be applied. If so, the applicable EU rate of duty will need to be paid.

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Defining ‘Not At Risk’ Cargo

Conversely, goods that are deemed ‘not at risk’ are those that are likely to remain within the United Kingdom, specifically within Northern Ireland or Great Britain. Such goods benefit from a different tariff structure, often more favourable, depending on their status of circulation within Great Britain and their point of origin. For instance:

  • Goods entering Northern Ireland from free circulation in GB are charged no duty.
  • Goods entering from outside both the EU and the UK or from GB where the goods were not in free circulation, are subject to UK duties.

It is also worth noting that commodities deemed ‘not at risk’ will be charged UK duty:

  • If they enter Northern Ireland from outside of both the EU and the UK
  • If they enter Northern Ireland from mainland Britain and the goods were not in free circulation in GB.

However, no duty is applicable if they enter Northern Ireland from free circulation from within GB.

Determining ‘At Risk’ and ‘Not At Risk’ Consignments

The determination of whether goods are ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’ hinges on an understanding of these criteria, alongside the trader’s certainty regarding the final destination of the goods. As such, this status affects not only the financial implications of trade but also the procedural aspects of customs declarations and compliance checks.
This nuanced approach ensures that while trade between these closely linked regions continues efficiently, it also aligns with the broader objectives of both the United Kingdom and the European Union in monitoring and managing the movement of goods across borders.

When to Declare Goods ‘Not at Risk’

Businesses importing goods into Northern Ireland have specific conditions under which they can declare these goods as ‘not at risk.’ This designation is critical as it influences the duty implications of the goods. Goods can generally be declared ‘not at risk’ in two primary scenarios:

  1. Based on Applicable Duties:
    • Goods are considered ‘not at risk’ if the EU tariff rate applicable to them is zero. This applies unless the goods are intended for processing and do not meet additional criteria.
    • Goods originating from outside the EU and UK can also be declared ‘not at risk’ if the UK duty equals or surpasses the EU tariff rate, again subject to additional requirements if they are for processing.
  2. Under the UK Internal Market Scheme:
    • Goods are eligible to be declared ‘not at risk’ if they are for sale to or final use by, end consumers primarily located within Northern Ireland or Great Britain. This declaration is valid only if made by a trader authorised under the UK Internal Market Scheme.
    • The scheme allows for such declarations without requiring the goods to be subject to EU trade remedies.

The UK’s Customs Declaration Service plays a pivotal role by automatically assessing the applicable rates of duty and determining if goods can be treated as ‘not at risk.’ Traders must ensure that any claims for preferences or reliefs are included in their declarations to leverage these classifications fully. This careful delineation allows businesses to optimise their trade processes and duty payments under the prevailing regulatory framework

Streamlining Global Trade with Barrington Freight

At Barrington Freight, we’re committed to demystifying the complexities of international shipping, making it more accessible and manageable for our clients. Our ethos is centred on transparency, affordability, and ease of collaboration. Whether it’s navigating customs clearance, decoding commodity codes, or any other challenge of global trade, our skilled team is ready to guide you through each step.

Customs Declarations, Additional Requirements and UK-Ireland Trade

Navigating customs declarations is crucial for businesses importing goods into Northern Ireland. The process involves submitting detailed declarations, potentially resulting in duties if the goods are deemed ‘at risk’ of moving to the EU. Specifically, ‘at risk’ goods attract the EU tariff rate, while ‘not at risk’ goods may incur no duty or a UK-specific duty depending on their status and origin.

For goods subject to commercial processing, additional criteria must be met to declare them ‘not at risk.’ From 30 September 2023, processed goods can be moved under less stringent conditions if the business has an annual turnover of less than £2 million or if the goods are designated for certain approved purposes like food for UK end consumers, construction, health services or non-profit activities in Northern Ireland. These additional requirements ensure that processed goods meet stringent compliance standards, facilitating smoother customs procedures and helping businesses manage duties effectively.

Note that the ‘at risk’ and “not at risk’ designations specifically pertain to goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland only. For trade directly between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, bypassing Northern Ireland, they don’t apply. Instead, this trade is governed by the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU. Goods traded directly between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland are subject to customs procedures, declarations and potential tariffs, depending on the nature of the goods and any relevant trade agreements or specific arrangements, such as those pertaining to rules of origin.

Operational Guidance for Businesses

It is advisable for any British businesses engaged in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to utilise the Trader Support Service, a free resource designed to assist with customs declarations and trade queries. This service is particularly valuable for those unfamiliar with customs procedures or those seeking expert guidance.
Additionally, partnering with a reliable freight forwarder can provide invaluable support for businesses managing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At Barrington Freight, we are dedicated to simplifying your trade processes and ensuring compliance across borders. Contact us today to learn more about how our services can benefit your business.

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Luckyn Lane, Basildon,
Essex SS14 3AX
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