It’s been over a week since the Windsor Framework was announced and you’ve all probably taken the time to read and re-read the texts. However, in case you still have some questions here is a quick recap on how the green lane system is going to work.
The Windsor Framework introduces a green lane for goods that will be sold in Northern Ireland and therefore considered not at risk of entering the EU. This means that goods which are expected to stay in Northern Ireland (consumption, final sale) will be subject to different formalities, documentary requirements and checks than goods entering the Republic.
In order to benefit from this green lane system, companies will need to register for the new version of the trusted trader scheme that the UK Government will release at some point between now and September this year. There is already a version of the trusted trader scheme for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the original Protocol – the UK Trader Scheme. However, the Windsor Framework introduces significant changes in three areas.
1. Who can become a trusted trader?
The main change here is that companies based in Great Britain will now be eligible to register for the scheme and will no longer require a physical presence in Northern Ireland.
It will also be easier for companies processing goods in Northern Ireland to use the new scheme. In the previous version, the threshold below which companies involved in processing could move goods as trusted traders was set at £500,000. It will now be £2m allowing more companies to be able to apply. Companies with a turnover above this threshold but manufacturing or processing goods for use in the animal feed, healthcare, construction and not-for-profit sectors will also be in scope.
The new scheme will be introduced at some point before September 2023 when it’s expected to be implemented. Companies already registered for the UK Trader Scheme are expected to be able to auto-enrol but this requires further confirmation.
There are some unanswered questions and further details are expected – for example, what will the application process look like for new companies?
2. What information will trusted traders need to submit?
When moving goods via the green lane companies, or their customs agents, will still need to submit data each time. This will be done via the current Trader Support Service (TSS) system. The main difference here is that traders will only be required to submit a reduced data set. The new forms would include about 21 data elements – mainly transport and commercial information. This is likely to be similar to the super-reduced dataset H7 declaration used in the EU for low-value consignments. It will reduce the number of data elements companies need to provide however, it will not eliminate the need for customs paperwork completely. Goods moving from GB to NI will also be considered originating in the UK by default.
One of the main changes is the fact that commodity codes will no longer be needed for every single movement. Based on the EU’s Q&A document, companies applying for the new version of the trusted trader programme will need to provide a description of their goods. A commodity code at a 6-digit level will then be assigned to the goods. Interestingly, the EU document mentions that if the UK trader struggles with the classification of goods, UK authorities will provide support. This is a departure from standard practice and raises questions in terms of liability and availability of resources. This is yet to be confirmed by the UK side.
In principle, once the commodity codes have been assigned, companies should be able to provide only a description of the product description as part of each shipment.
For a subset of goods, an 8-digit level commodity code will be required. This will need to be confirmed by the UK Government once the details of the new scheme are published.
3. What checks will take place in the green lane?
Finally, the green lane means fewer border checks. Both the UK and the EU will have real-time access to the data submitted to TSS and will be able to request the goods to be stopped and inspected. Checks for goods moving through the green lane will be reduced to “risk-based and intelligence-led” checks. The UK authorities will also be conducting market surveillance activities to monitor the use of the trusted trader programme. Further details on that and planned border checks are expected later this year.
Goods moving from Great Britain to the EU via Northern Ireland will be subject to full customs procedures and checks and will go through the red lane. A reimbursement scheme will be set up for goods that passed through the red lane in cases where traders can demonstrate that these goods remained in Northern Ireland.