Trading seafood under the Northern Ireland Protocol

Explanation of customs, tariffs and VAT rules for moving seafood between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and between Northern Ireland and the EU.

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a trading arrangement, negotiated during Brexit talks. It allows goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.

Before the UK left the EU, it was easy to transport goods across this border because both sides followed the same EU rules. After the UK left, special trading arrangements were needed because Northern Ireland has an EU land border - the Republic of Ireland.

Due to the Northern Ireland protocol, Northern Ireland is operating under different custom rules from England, Scotland and Wales (referred to as Great Britain).

This guidance explains current customs, tariffs and VAT responsibilities for businesses moving seafood between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It also covers rules for businesses in Northern Ireland trading with the EU.

Trading seafood from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

A customs declaration is required for business to business sale of goods declaring that the goods are not at risk of onward transport to the EU. Domestic VAT rules still apply.  

There are five things to check when moving seafood from Great Britain to Northern Ireland:  

  • Export declaration 
  • Exit summary declaration 
  • Import declaration on arrival in Northern Ireland 
  • No customs duties to pay 
  • No VAT to pay at point of arrival and domestic VAT rules still apply 

For more information, go to the UK government website where you can also sign up for a trader support service to help businesses trade between GB and NI.  

From Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Goods that are in free circulation in Northern Ireland have unfettered access to Great Britain.  
The Government website states:  
For almost all traders, when your goods leave Northern Ireland for England, Scotland or Wales, there’ll be: 

  • no export declaration 
  • no exit summary declaration 
  • no import declaration on arrival in Great Britain 
  • no customs duties to pay 
  • no VAT to pay at point of arrival 
  • no changes to how your goods arrive at ports in Great Britain 

Domestic VAT rules will still apply.  

Please note, goods that started their journey in Europe will not qualify for unfettered access. For more information, go to the Government guidance 

From Northern Ireland to the EU

Northern Ireland follow the same VAT rules as the EU member states allowing Northern Ireland to benefit from intra community supplies and acquisitions. The purpose of the protocol is to ensure the ease of movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, avoiding a hard border.

Northern Irish businesses will continue to account for VAT the same as when they were in the EU. Businesses have a VAT number beginning with “XI” and this should be stated on all documentation. This ensures VAT can be accounted for correctly on transactions between Northern Ireland and the EU using rules on intra-EU movements.

You can verify the validity of the EU VAT numbers on the European Commission website.

Contact us

If you have a question about the Northern Ireland Protocol or any other seafood regulation queries, contact our Regulation team directly.