What is happening with the Northern Ireland Protocol?

A red lane and green lane? Brexit finally done? VAT changes?

A lot has happened in the past 48 hours with the Prime Minister looking to reach an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol. This new agreement has been dubbed “The Windsor Framework” but what does this mean for transport and freight?

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The NI Protocol is the trading agreement that was first negotiated during Brexit allowing goods to be transported across the Irish land border – allowing goods to move without the need for customs checks.

However the EU has strict rules for some items on non-EU trade. Thus making it hard to strike a deal.

This special agreement was to keep a level of continuity in trade and to uphold and protect The Good Friday Agreement. Now the UK is looking to change things with agreement from the EU.

Red light, green light

The new plan sets up a green lane and red lane, green for goods only going to Northern Ireland, meaning no checks on the majority of shipments and minimal paperwork. The red lane would be for goods due to travel into the Republic of Ireland or deemed “at risk” of doing so and would face customs checks at NI ports.

Exporters and importers will now need to be registered as a ‘trusted trader’ to use the green lane. All UK-based traders are eligible to apply with HMRC and will need to provide details of any goods they move.

The old way

Goods are checked at ports in NI on arrival, regardless of if they are destined for NI or ROI, then moved to their final destination.

Old Northern Ireland Protocol

The new way

Goods arrive in NI in one of two lanes, Green lane goods for NI only and this will eliminate unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties.
Red lane for ROI and the EU are checked and moved on. Data-sharing and labelling arrangements will keep this system in check.

New Northern Ireland Protocol

A shift in VAT?

Under the old NI Protocol EU VAT rules apply to NI, meaning that any change in UK rules won’t affect NI. Now the UK has “secured full, lasting powers for the UK to set VAT and excise rules in NI. We have done this by removing existing rules and preventing other new EU VAT rules from applying in NI.”

The rules on movement of certain goods have shifted from UK exports to NI. Chilled Lincolnshire sausages are now back on the menu for Northern Ireland. Less restrictions on the movement on such goods we would expect to uptick food freight movement.

Stormont’s say on The Northern Ireland Protocol

Northern Ireland lacks a say in changes in EU rules, whilst being still affected by these rules as part of the Protocol. The changes now seem to be moving towards Stormont having more say and greater input in the future, a new “Stormont Brake” will allow the NI assembly to prevent some EU rules.

A statement from our Commercial Director, Geoff Yates on The Northern Ireland Protocol

“There are so many reasons to be cheerful with the announcement of the newly agreed Northern Ireland Protocol. The financial markets certainly relished it with strong performances reported on the stock exchange on Monday afternoon and Sterling rising rapidly against both the US Dollar and the Euro too.

Brexit is finally done. A full six years after the 2016 referendum an agreement to suit both sides of the separation is certainly welcomed by Northern Ireland.

A good sign of things to come was the sight of the smiling European President, Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, signalling an improvement between the UK and the EU.

In practice, it’s difficult to say what it will mean for the movement of goods from GB to Northern Ireland. The introduction of a “Green lane” for British goods via a trusted trader scheme certainly points to a significant easement but as ever the devil will be in the detail.

From our point of view, at the front line of cross border movements, Mondays announcement regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol and improving UK-EU relations was greatly received.”

More information on the government website

Check out EasyEU


How has a senior British F1 team dealt with moving automotive goods since Brexit?

How has a senior British F1 team dealt with moving time critical automotive goods in the past few years since Brexit?

Brexit brought major problems for a senior British F1 team. Well used to global shipping and using ATA Carnet to move equipment around the world, adapting to new European regulations wasn’t difficult.However, when it came to moving consumables, parts which may be used or not, their headaches began.

To prepare for the testing and racing season post Brexit, they set up a store in central Europe to call off consumables as and when needed. It worked well but staffing and holding stock was expensive and with stringent budget caps to adhere to, year two brought them to Espace looking for new ideas.

There were several complexities, the consumables needed to go out to support an event, may be used, may not be used. They may need to go to the next European event, on again, or they may need to be returned to the UK based factory. Due to their varied nature, a consignment may contain hundreds of unique HS codes making handling of data quickly and accurately, complex and hugely important.

Having established that the team have the required country specific European VAT number and plotting the European race and major testing locations, Espace suggested moving the goods under the DDP inco term and using the three major northern French ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Le Havre as a gateway to Europe where we have agency representation and can present personnel quickly should any issues arise.

Large quantities of data are handled via our unique XML upload template.

Utilising our French customs clearance agent, goods moved through any of these ports can be delivered directly to any location without the need for further customs intervention, something which is often a problem for clients moving goods to events and exhibitions, and not unique to motorsport. Import VAT is postponed against the relevant EU VAT number (French where clearing through French ports) and any duty owed is paid quickly by Espace thanks to a duty cash deposit.

Once the goods have been cleared into Europe, they are free to roam and to be used at other events in any European country as many times as needed.

When items are required to be returned to the UK, irrespective of when they were exported and to where, using the teams European partner to act as exporter of record, goods exit the EU via France and reimported into the UK. Any duty (when Returned Goods Relief cannot be used) is paid against the teams Duty Deferment Account and VAT postponed against their VAT number making Espace’s EasyEU solution the quickest and most cost effective available.

What Next?

Read about our innovative DDP Incoterm solution to deliver goods into the EU – EasyEU or speak to one of our team on 01543 418700

The importance of re-opening the European market

The importance of re-opening the European market

Winter is upon us, both in a physical and financial sense. With frost laying heavy on the grass in the mornings, car windows to scrape before the commute to work or school run, this can be a very difficult time of year.

We are in the depths of winter in a financial sense too. An economy in recession, interest and inflation at their highest for decades, a war in Europe playing havoc with commodities and a squeeze on real-term incomes. Not to mention the economic effects of BREXIT. If you allow it, this unprecedented combination could overwhelm you.

But businesspeople are a resilient breed. Just like in a meteorological winter, where we don extra layers, warmer boots, gloves and hats to protect ourselves against the cold, we can do the same for our businesses. Doing things the same will only result in the same or lesser results (or freezing appendages!).

Support for your Export

January is an important time to start planning for the new financial year too. We’re often asked by clients for support to help grow export lanes and more recently for advice on winning back European business which was lost because of BREXIT.

Reasons to be Optimistic

As our closest neighbour and biggest trading partner, Europe is the logical first step for a company to explore export trade into. British goods are well respected for their quality within Europe and the devaluation in Sterling has made them very attractive financially.

Brexit = Customer Inconvenience

BREXIT not only brought about issues for British companies but for their European customers too. Goods which are exported by default, need to be imported – adding additional layers of complexity which often results in frustration, delays and as we’ve seen over the last two years, loss of trade.

Complexity such as

  • Finding a customs agent
  • Paying or accounting for import VAT
  • Understanding and paying duties
  • Unforeseen delays in transport and associated downtime

Make your Exports Attractive Again

There are ways however, of making all these problems for European importers disappear which in turn allows UK exporters to compete on a level playing field with their European competition. Using innovative cross-border solutions could allow UK exporters to re-win the business they lost after BREXIT and use the same tactics to grow new export lanes too.

As sure as springtime will replace winter, Britain will climb out of recession. Re-opening the European market will allow UK exporters to retain and grow the business they had before Brexit.

If we don’t the UK risks losing out to less inconvenient European or Worldwide sources and the overall quality of the products on the market are reduced as a result.

What Next?

Read about our innovative DDP Incoterm solution to deliver goods into the EU – EasyEU or speak to one of our team on 01543 418700


Potential Disruption at French Ports

We have experienced many disruptions by French fisherman at French ports over the years causing havoc to the European road freight industry.

Over the last few days, the news headlines have been focusing on the UK / French political relationship and the threat of possible disruption this may cause.

If we cannot agree fishing rights for French fisherman in our waters, the threat of an instant blockade of some vital French ports is very real. This will have a detrimental effect on transit times for all French shipments and any shipments that need to cross French territory. If things get nasty, a slow down by French customs officials on UK exports and imports has been rumoured also.

It might be a good idea, if you can, to stockpile some shipments in the UK and EU if these blockades happen over the next few months.

It is possible that your shipments to or from France may be affected by French action at short notice. Any action would also have an affect on goods transiting France to or from Europe.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will issue updates as and when we have positive information of any action being taken. We do ask however, that you bear in mind the possible French action locking ports to UK ships, possible disruption via the channel tunnel and increasing checks by French Customs on shipments travelling in-between the UK and France for exports and imports.

12 Point Brexit Logistics Planning Checklist

12 Point Brexit Logistics Planning Checklist

Extension, Election, Revocation, Referendum, Resignation, Deal, No Deal.

The list goes on. Who knows where we will be with Brexit tomorrow?

As you’ll have seen, the Government No Deal awareness campaign is in full swing but still lacks clarity and concise information on their website www.gov.uk/brexit for Importers and Exporters.

The 12 Point Importers and Exporters Checklist

We believe we have all bases covered here with customs software and training both in place.

To help our customers, many of whom have been going around in circles over the last few months, we’ve researched created 12 point exporter and importer to-do lists.

Have you and your customers and suppliers got all the boxes ticked? Download the Checklists below.

What Brexit help and guidance can Espace offer?

On our website our MD, Tony Shally has highlighted many of his current concerns and the predicted effects of a No Deal exit on the European road freight market. His letter to customers, the checklists and other useful information for Brexit planning can all be found in our dedicated Brexit Section.

We’re ready with our customs software, training and Dover based customs clearance agent to assist with additional declarations and transit documents.

If you have any specific Brexit questions, just email brexit@espaceglobalfreight.com or give us a call on 01543 418700.

Brexit Update – Postponed VAT Accounting for imports

Postponed VAT

In the event of a no deal Brexit the UK government have announced they will introduce Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) for both EU and non-EU imports by UK registered businesses.

This will enable VAT registered businesses to declare and recover import VAT on their VAT returns, rather than having to pay it upfront and subsequently recover it on their VAT return.

How will this work?

Registration will not be required for importers to use PVA. The intention to use PVA for an import will be declared on the customs entry.

This will come into effect from Day 1 of a no deal Brexit, however it will be optional. VAT can still be paid upfront if an importer wishes to do so.

What statements will be issued?

C79 VAT certificates will not be issued for goods declared using PVA. Instead a monthly postponed import VAT statement will be made available for importers via the government digital service.

This statement will indicate the total VAT postponed for the previous month in order to declare this on the quarterly VAT return.

PVA currently does not exist in the UK. More details on this service will be published by the government in due course.

Other VAT deferral methods.

The currently allows two systems for import VAT deferral (standard deferral and SIVA).

SIVA (Simplified Import VAT Accounting) requires a lower level of financial security than standard import VAT deferral. We therefore suggest importers seek SIVA approval first. VAT registered businesses can apply for SIVA online

Need more help on Brexit?

For more information on how the UK’s attempts to leave the EU will affect your business visit our Brexit Import & Export Guide.