As of 1 January 2021, the UK is no longer part of the European Union. Find out more about what this means for customs matters.
Agreement on trade in goods as of the 1. of January 2021
Norway is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. Until such a free trade agreement is concluded, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom have agreed to enter into a temporary Agreement on Trade in Goods that entered into force on the 1. of January 2021.
The EU and the United Kingdom have agreed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement that entered into force on 1 January 2021. The Agreement can be found here .
For Norway, the aim is to have a new free trade agreement and other agreements in place as early in 2021 as possible.
Tariff rates, administrative co-operation and customs procedures will be included in such an agreement.
The Norwegian Customs will work to ensure that the best possible provisions are put into place as quickly as possible.
On the temporary Agreement on Trade in Goods
What is continued in terms of customs matters?
All established preferential tariffs (lower or zero tariffs) are upheld. To continue trade of British agricultural products, five import quotas have been established for goods coming into Norway from the United Kingdom. The quotas concern semi-finished goods of processed potato products, eggs, apple juice, sausages, and cheese, and are administered by the Norwegian Agriculture Agency. Read more about the quotas here (only available in Norwegian).
In order to benefit from lower tariffs, zero tariffs and quotas under this agreement, the goods must ‘originate’ in Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom, see Annex 4 regarding rules of origin. The agreement adheres to the same rules of origin as the current EEA-agreement (Protocol 4) and these correspond to the rules used under the PEM Convention. Proofs of origin shall remain the same as those used today.
The agreement also transitions the administrative customs co-operation that is currently in place between Norway and the EU. In addition, the Common Transit procedure shall apply. This last procedure is not regulated in the Agreement, but rather by the United Kingdom becoming a contracting party to the Common Transit and SAD Conventions. Further information about transit is provided further down in the article.
What changes after the 1. of January 2021?
A few practical changes
On the import and export declaration, “IM or EX” must be written in column 1 from 11. of January 2021 and onwards.
To required preferential tariff under the new agreement, ‘P’ must be written in column 36 of the import declaration. The code ‘P’ is also used in the export declaration when a proof of origin is made out. You may use the electronic Movement Certificate EUR.1 (read more here).
EEA or EU preferential origin can no longer be used between Norway/Iceland and the United Kingdom. For a transitional period of 12 months (no later than 31 December 2021), it is however possible to request preferential treatment under the EEA Agreement or the Norway-EEC Agreement for originating products that were in transit, in a free zone under the control of the customs authorities, or in temporary storage at a customs warehouse as of 1 January 2021, provided that the terms of the agreement are met.
For a transitional period of 12 months (no later than 31 December 2021), it is also possible to claim preferential treatment under the Agreement on Trade in Goods for originating products that were in transit at the entry into force of the agreement, in a free zone under the control of the customs authorities, or in temporary storage at a customs warehouse as of 1 January 2021, provided that the terms of the agreement are met. In these cases, the exporter must issue a retrospective proof of origin, see Article 39 of Annex IV regarding rules of origin. The origin “EEA” or “EU” can no longer be used between Norway/Iceland and UK after 1 January 2021.
Detailed information on preferential treatment in the transition period
The transitional arrangements apply between Norway and the UK, and not vis-à-vis the EU. GB is removed from TEF and TOES in TVINN from Monday 11.01.21, even though the transition period applies to the entire 2021.
When GB is removed from TEF and TOES, it means that code P must be used in box 36 for the UK. This means that code P must be used even if the importer wants to invoke the transitional arrangement. It must be mentioned that the tariffs for TEF/TOES and TGB are the same.
There is also a transitional arrangement in the temporary agreement (NO/IS-UK) for UK-goods that are in transit per 31.12.2020. For goods that are in transit/in customs warehouses/in free zones per 31.12.2020, GB origin is also accepted.
In both cases, the direct transport requirements need to be meet.
Requirements for direct transportation between the Parties
For British products that are sent via the EU and are in customs warehouse in the EU 31.12.20 at 24.00 this rule applies:
Preferential treatment under the Agreement applies only to products that comply with the terms of this Convention (note: the PEM Convention), which are transported directly between the Contracting Parties or through the territories of the other countries and the territories referred to in Article 3 to which cumulation applies.
The United Kingdom is not covered by the PEM rules after 31.12.20 at 24.00. After this time, this rule applies to e.g. EU products shipped via the UK:
Products constituting a single consignment may, however, be transported through other territories, possibly by transhipment or temporary storage in such territories, provided that they remain under the control of the customs in the country of transit or storage and that they do not undergo treatment other than unloading and loading or other treatment with a view to keeping them in good condition.
For originating products from a PEM country, it is the last rule that must be met when goods are shipped via the United Kingdom.
For products from the United Kingdom, the following requirements apply for shipping via countries / areas with which both Norway and the United Kingdom have an agreement that allows cumulation between Norway, the United Kingdom and the transit country (e.g. Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland):
The preferential treatment provided for under this Agreement applies only to products, satisfying the requirements of this Protocol, which are transported directly between the Parties or through the territories of the countries referred to in Article 3 with which cumulation is applicable.
For products to or from the United Kingdom, the following requirements apply for shipment via the EU:
- The preferential treatment provided for under this Agreement applies only to products, satisfying the requirements of this Protocol, which are directly between the Parties or through the terretories of the countries referred to in Article 3 with which cumulation is applicable.
- For the avoidance of doubt, under paragrafh 1 consigments that are in transit in the territory of the European Union, may be split, provided they remain under the surveillance of the customs authorities in the Member State of transit.
The Agreement between Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom does not include co-operation regarding technical regulations (TBT) or sanitary and phytosanitary requirements (SPS). This means that a set of harmonised rules will no longer be in place in areas concerning food, medicine and veterinary medicine, or for other certification and approval schemes. For Norwegian Customs this means that goods from the United Kingdom subject to restrictions (Except direct importation from Northern Ireland) must be treated in the same way as all other third countries outside of the EU/EEA.
Security: requirements for pre-notification
Requirements for the pre-notification of goods transported directly to and from the United Kingdom (Except direct importation from or exportation to Northern Ireland) have been introduced. Find more information about this further down in the article.
No co-operation on the GSP for developing countries
The United Kingdom shall not continue its co-operation with the EU and Switzerland under the GSP scheme in relation to rules of origin for developing countries. This means that replacement certificates of origin issued by the United Kingdom for GSP goods will no longer be accepted. Materials that originate from the United Kingdom and are included in a GSP product exported to Norway shall be deemed as third country materials.
Cumulation with EU materials
Materials from the EU can be used in production in the United Kingdom and Norway, respectively, for export to the other contracting party in accordance with the bridge agreement.
Requirements for pre-notification to and from the United Kingdom
As of the 1. of January 2021, the United Kingdom is considered as a third country outside the EU/EEA.
Goods that are transported directly to and from the United Kingdom shall therefore be covered by an electronic pre-notification (except direct transport between Norway and Northern Ireland). This must be submitted electronically through the NCTS-system, and within the applicable deadlines. See Customs Regulations Sections 3-1-2 to 3-1-7.
A transit declaration in NCTS, which contains all the security data, can be used to fulfil the requirements, provided that the deadlines are met.
The carrier is responsible for submitting declarations for all ingoing and outgoing pre-notification. It is vital for companies that are currently unfamiliar with this scheme, and who transport goods to and from the UK, to familiarise themselves with the regulations and requirements for pre-notification. Read more here.
The United Kingdom is a separate contracting party to the Common Transit and SAD Conventions.
The existing transit procedure will therefore be continued, which allows for the continued use of NCTS. NCTS can also be used to combine the declarations for the transit procedure/pre-notification of goods.
Common transit operations from Norway have to register border crossing (NCF) in the NCTS when entering the UK. Due to the queues expected for entry into the United Kingdom, this could lead to delays.
The United Kingdom has introduced a new IT platform called the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), which will support the common transit procedure. Starting January 2021, the GVMS will automate the Office of transit function at the main harbors. You can read more about the GVMS on the HMRC website.
Will there be a need for EORI-numbers?
An EORI-number (Economic Operator Registration and Identification number) is a unique identity number (customer number) issued by the customs authorities in the EU. Norwegian businesses who do not have to submit information and electronic messages themselves to the customs authorities in the UK (and EU) will not be required to have an EORI-number. See previous information released about this here.
What about Northern Ireland?
An important consideration for the EU and the United Kingdom has been to ensure that Brexit does not impede the free flow of goods and persons between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom and the EU have therefore agreed to a Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which means that the flow of goods to and from Northern Ireland is subject to a separate regime.
Northern Ireland remains a part of the British customs territory and is therefore included in the scope of the temporary Agreement on Trade in Goods between Norway/Iceland and the United Kingdom, including preferential treatment. The Protocol however stipulates that “goods at risk of being moved to the Union” is to be customs cleared after EU rules if they are imported directly to Northern Ireland and not through other parts of the United Kingdom. However, it is not possible to benefit from preferential tariff quotas under agreements between Norway and the EU. If goods are subject to a higher customs duty rate (EU rate) than foreseen in the Agreement on Trade in Goods between Norway/Iceland and the United Kingdom, the difference is to be refunded by British authorities. The rules for the determination of “goods not at risk …" are set out in Decision 4/2020 of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.
Northern Ireland is still considered as belonging to the EU security area. The requirement for pre-notification does therefore not apply for shipments transported directly to or from Northern Ireland.
In areas such as food safety, where Norway co-operates with the EU on control of goods from third countries, Northern Ireland is considered to be part of the EU.
What can you do?
As an importer and exporter, it is your responsibility to ensure that you understand the regulations that apply at all times. We therefore recommend that you familiarise yourself with the possible impacts that Brexit could have on your business, regarding both British and Norwegian changes, and that you contact the relevant regulatory bodies with any questions and concerns.
We also recommend reading the information already published by www.regjeringen.no.
The concrete changes you need to make depend on your products and requirements. As a Norwegian importer and exporter, there are different regulatory requirements in Norway that you must act in accordance with. At the same time, you must take British requirements into consideration.
What can the Norwegian Customs do?
Norwegian Customs will work to ensure that optimum solutions are found for the Norwegian operators, and aims to make sure that Norway is well-prepared. Please be aware that Brexit will not change Norway’s relationship with the EU or the EEA-agreement.
Norwegian Customs will continue our efforts to ensure that all outstanding regulatory provisions come into place as soon as possible, and will come back with updated information.
Useful sources of information