The UK landbridge refers to the route to market that connects Ireland to the EU Single Market and wider international markets via the UK’s road and ports network. It is particularly important for products with a short shelf-life.
Until the end of the current transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK landbridge will function as it did when the UK was a member of the EU. Post-transition, operators will still be able to move goods between Ireland and other EU countries by road through Great Britain but the way in which this is done will change.
In particular, operators using the UK landbridge will need to engage with the EU transit system (NCTS), and with port and customs systems in Ireland, the UK and at the EU ports of destination in France, Belgium or the Netherlands (all of which will have different approaches). Further procedures will arise in respect of goods which are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks and controls.
In addition to the new administrative procedures, operators will also be required to have a financial guarantee in place throughout the lifetime of the transit movement to underpin all customs duties that may arise. The financial guarantee may be called upon in the event that the goods do not arrive at their destination or if the transit movement is not completed on NCTS.
Important Notice: A range of new steps must be completed in order to move goods under the transit procedure from 1 January 2021. Depending on the model used by operators to manage the transit (e.g. in-house or via a customs agent), there is flexibility as to who completes a number of steps. It is therefore vital that all actors in the transit chain (e.g. traders, logistics companies, customs agents, hauliers etc.) understand and agree in advance who is responsible for each of the steps along the route. Failing to clarify this will disrupt your trade and lead to possibly severe delays including not being given permission to enter Ports or board ships.
The term “Responsible Operator” is used below to cover all relevant actors within the transit chain (e.g. traders, logistics companies, customs agents, hauliers etc.) who, depending on circumstances, may complete the required processes and steps.
To use the UK landbridge efficiently after the transition period, responsible operators should:
• Decide if the customs and other work will be carried out in-house or if a logistics company and/or customs agent will be engaged. Communication with transport provider is also recommended.
• Visit Revenue
for further details on the Customs Transit Procedure, the NCTS and to apply to use transit simplifications, including how to become an authorised consignor/consignee.
• Work with your bank or a customs agents/logistics provider to ensure you have the necessary comprehensive financial guarantee
• If not availing of the simplified customs transit procedure, familiarise yourself with the location of the appropriate offices of departure/destination for opening or closing the intra-community transit movement. These may not be situated in the Port and may not be open 24/7. A useful European Commission list of all transit offices is here.
• Plan for delays at ports particularly in the initial period. Be aware of any routing and procedural changes within ports. The ports of Calais,Rotterdam.Zeebrugge,Dover
have resources available online.
• Where vehicles containing Union animal products (excluding consignments of animal by-products which must be sealed) are consolidated during transit of Great Britain with non-Union animal products, the vehicle can no longer benefit from the flexibilities provided for EU-EU transits on re-entry, as the presence of UK goods will require the vehicle to be presented to the border control post for official controls including the necessary identity and physical checks.
Note in addition, that transiting consignments of Union animal products are not permitted to be unloaded in warehouses in GB as, if the goods are unloaded, they will require to be certified by the UK authorities for export to the EU.
• Consider moving, in advance of the end of the transition period, to direct route
options for the movement of goods from Ireland to the Continent to avoid potential delays and the new procedures associated with using the UK landbridge
The links below set out an overview of the steps traders should take when moving goods across the most commonly used landbridge routes. These examples are included for illustrative purposes and should be taken as broad advice only. It is up to the responsible operators to ensure that they understand the precise steps required from 1 January 2021 to move their specific consignments across their chosen transit route and who will be responsible for completing the various steps. We will update these examples as more information comes to light in the coming weeks.
In preparing the examples, the traders involved are considered to be customs compliant (i.e. has an EORI number
and is VAT registered), and has made provision to have a financial guarantee
in place and is not an Authorised Consignor.