On 27 February the UK and EU agreed the Windsor Framework, providing a fundamentally new set of arrangements to restore the smooth flow of trade within the UK internal market; safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the Union; and address the democratic deficit that was otherwise at the heart of the original Northern Ireland Protocol. These arrangements were adopted at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on 24 March.
Further detail on the arrangements overall are set out in the Command Paper, the Windsor Framework: a new way forward.
This page sets out further detail on how the Windsor Framework will work in practice as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to working with, and supporting businesses as the new arrangements are implemented. These pages will be updated with further guidance as it is made available. This guidance sets out further operational information on the relevant legal obligations that apply, which are set out in the legal texts underpinning the Framework (these are set out on a dedicated page.)
The implementation of the Framework will happen in stages through into 2025, to provide businesses with time to adapt to new arrangements.
Some arrangements are already in force. On 1 May 2023 a temporary VAT zero-rate was introduced in Northern Ireland for the domestic installation of solar panels, insulation, heat pumps and other energy saving materials (further details can be found here). This relief has been available in the rest of the UK since 2022 but was previously blocked in Northern Ireland by the Protocol. A permanent scheme has also been introduced to support the movement and sale of second-hand cars into Northern Ireland from Great Britain (further details can be found here). And on 30 June, the Government launched a new reimbursement scheme for EU duty paid on “at risk” goods which have been sold or used outside of the EU.
Other elements will come into force from later this year and beyond, in accordance with the arrangements and conditions that the Framework sets out.
From 30 September 2023, a new UK Internal Market Scheme will expand the range of businesses able to benefit from the new arrangements provided to protect internal UK movements, including the removal of EU tariffs. In tandem, the new sanitary and phytosanitary “green lane” arrangements will take effect: including a new Retail Movement Scheme for agrifood retail products; new rules to allow plants to move smoothly in to Northern Ireland; and new arrangements to enable seed potatoes to move once again from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
From September 2024, the full “green lane” will take effect for the movement of all goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, expanding the benefits of the UK Internal Market Scheme to end unnecessary bureaucracy. This will ensure that goods will no longer move on the basis of international customs requirements, with a new system based on commercial information. New arrangements will also come into effect for the movement of parcels between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with a new set of data-sharing requirements put in place to ensure that customs declarations are not needed for deliveries to consumers.
In 2025, new arrangements for the supply of medicines into Northern Ireland will take effect, ensuring that medicines available in Northern Ireland are those approved by UK authorities, enabling a single licence and a single pack for medicines right across the United Kingdom.
In all cases, all existing grace periods and practical arrangements will continue up until the point of new arrangements coming into force, in order to provide certainty and a smooth transition for businesses.
Further details on these new arrangements are set out on separate guidance pages which are linked below. This guidance will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis, alongside ongoing engagement with industry and other stakeholders.
Moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – general
UK Internal Market Scheme
As part of the new arrangements agreed under the Windsor Framework, the existing UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) will be replaced, as of 30 September 2023, by a new UK Internal Market Scheme. This will enable a broader range of businesses to enjoy the benefits of the existing scheme. It will also, as of 30 September 2024, ensure goods moved into Northern Ireland under the scheme will be freed of unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties.
Expanded membership from 30 September 2023 – traders are now able to begin the registration process for the new UK Internal Market Scheme, to be ready for the launch of the scheme on 30 September 2023. Current UKTS arrangements for moving goods GB-NI will remain in place in the meantime. Existing UKTS users will be directly contacted to transfer their authorisation to the UK Internal Market Scheme.
Reduced requirements from 30 September 2024 – As part of ongoing work to help businesses to prepare for the further set of changes in 2024, further information is available to outline the basis of movements in the “green lane” once the full set of easements are in force from September 2024.
Duty reimbursement scheme
As a result of the Windsor Framework, the Government is able to meet a longstanding commitment to bring forward a duty reimbursement scheme, to allow traders to reclaim EU duty paid on goods that can be shown not to have entered the EU. This scheme launched on 30 June and can apply to goods moved since 2021.
Customs Duty Waiver Scheme
From January 2024, the Government will also be expanding the support provided to businesses through the existing Customs Duty Waiver Scheme. This will mean that, in the New Year, the maximum value of duties able to be waived over the course of three tax years for ‘at risk’ goods moved into Northern Ireland will rise to €275,000 (~£235,000) from the current level of €200,000 (~£170,000).
Trader Support Service
As a core part of the Windsor Framework arrangements, the Government will continue to provide a free-to-use support service for those moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Further detail on the Trader Support Service is set out here.
From 30 September 2024, a new set of arrangements for the movement of parcels under the Windsor Framework will apply, which provides a durable basis on which to enable consumers to send and receive parcels as they do today, alongside parcel operators sharing standard commercial data with HMRC. As of that point, the same “green lane” arrangements as are applied for freight movements will also apply for parcel consignments moved between businesses. The Government will continue to work closely with parcel operators to develop these arrangements and provide support in preparing for them, including further guidance later this year.
Moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – sanitary and phytosanitary products
The Windsor Framework also sets out dedicated arrangements to support the critical flow of agrifood retail products into Northern Ireland.
These movements are currently supported under the Scheme for the Temporary Agrifood Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI). This will be replaced in October 2023 by a new scheme, the Retail Movement Scheme. This will be available to a much broader range of traders and provide a sustainable basis for these movements into Northern Ireland, removing unnecessary checks and complex certification requirements, and enabling goods made to UK public health standards to be moved.
Formal registration for the new scheme will be launched in September 2023. In the meantime, traders are able to register their interest through a pre-registration process. The STAMNI scheme will remain in operation until these new arrangements enter into force. All existing members of the STAMNI scheme will be contacted directly regarding moving seamlessly to the new scheme.
Further information on the scheme and its requirements is available at the links below.
Supply of goods – medicines
The Windsor Framework sets out a long-term set of arrangements for the supply of medicines into Northern Ireland. They will ensure that medicines must be approved and licensed on a UK-wide basis by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with medicines using the same packaging and labelling across the UK. The European Medicines Agency will have no role in approving or licensing new drugs for provision in Northern Ireland. These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2025, with existing arrangements for supplying medicines to Northern Ireland applied in the meantime.