EU sets out Northern Ireland trading requirements in law


8th December 2020

With the talks between the EU and UK continuing into the final month of the transition period, the European Commission has made it clear what the Union expects with regard to trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It has issued Regulation (EU) 2020/1811 “as regards the identification of economic operators in Northern Ireland”. Coming into force on 1 January 2021, these Regulations can be found at

They note that, at the end of the transition period, EU rules on excise duties will no longer apply to the United Kingdom. However, in accordance with Article 8 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, EU rules on excise duties will continue to apply in Northern Ireland after the transition period as regards goods, so as to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Commission points out that, under Regulation (EU) 389/2012 each Member State must maintain an electronic database containing a register of economic operators (including authorised warehouse-keepers, registered consignees, and registered consignors).

It also reminds operators that the procedures are computer-based and supported by pan-European IT systems called Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) for movement control and System for Exchange of Excise Data (SEED) for registering excise economic operators.

“The movement of excise goods between the Union and Northern Ireland will be treated as intra-Union movements. Consequently, for economic operators established in Northern Ireland intending to move excise goods under duty suspension arrangement to and from Member States, it is necessary to be registered and authorised in SEED as well as use the Union excise procedures and the EMCS,” the Regulations state.

While UK economic operators use the code ‘GB’, Northern Ireland has no specific code under this system.

Given previous use of X-codes for territories that do not have a specific code, it has been decided to use the code ‘XI’ to distinguish economic operators in Northern Ireland carrying out movement of excise goods.


Published by Croner-I, 2/12/2020


Free Digital Course

To help GB businesses prepare for trade with NI, the Northern Ireland Customs Academy are delivering a 2 hour free course on Monday 14th December aimed at helping traders through the upcoming changes. Click here to register

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