Red and Green lanes have begun to become operational for the movement of goods between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB). This is as a result of the Windsor Framework being implemented from 30 September 2023, which amends the Northern Ireland Protocol which was originally entered into at the time the UK left the European Union. The framework keeps Northern Ireland in the European Union for the purposes of the movement of goods.
At present the Green Lane is open for certain types of product only - sanitary and phytosanitary goods, but from September 2024, it will be fully open for all categories of goods.
The Green Lane is applicable to goods which are moving from GB to NI and are meant for consumption or end use in NI. Such movements are subject to less documentary requirements and controls, when compared to the goods which are meant for delivery to the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere in the European Union - these goods are to be declared through the Red Lane and are subject to more stringent customs controls with customs declarations being required.
Previously traders moving goods from GB to NI registered for the UK Trader Scheme under which they could declare their goods 'not at risk' of entering the EU from NI. From 30 September 2023, such traders are required to apply to HMRC for authorisation to use the new UK Internal Market Scheme. Depending on whether the business is established in GB or NI, determines the eligibility criteria that needs to be met to be granted authorisation. On processing of applications, HMRC will write to traders to confirm their UK Internal Market Scheme reference number.
Businesses trading goods between GB and NI should be mindful of these changes coming in and to take the necessary actions that apply to them, to ensure the movement of goods is as efficient as possible and all the appropriate paperwork and authorisations are in place. Close communication between business and appointed freight and customs agents is going to be important.
Alliance Party assembly member Sorcha Eastwood said the framework provided "an opportunity for Northern Ireland in terms of having dual market access".