According to the announcement from HMRC, businesses that move goods into or out of Northern Ireland require an Economic Operator’s Registration Identification (EORI) number starting with XI, which can only be obtained by having a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland. However, if a business does not have a permanent establishment in Northern Ireland, they can still move goods into Northern Ireland or the EU by using an indirect representative who meets the criteria. For businesses registered with the Trader Support Service (TSS), they can continue to use the service to act on their behalf for movements into Northern Ireland.
A permanent business establishment is defined as a fixed place of business where both the necessary human and technical resources are permanently present and through which a person’s customs-related operations are wholly or partly carried out. However, businesses that do not have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland may still be able to have an XI EORI to undertake limited customs activities within both Northern Ireland and the EU.
For more information on the TSS and how to register, businesses can visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.
The background to this announcement is that in preparation for the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol on 1 January 2021, HMRC automatically allocated XI EORI numbers to UK businesses identified as operating in Northern Ireland. However, at the time, HMRC was not able to verify whether businesses with a GB address also had a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland.
Additionally, the registration system for XI EORIs did not include the requirement for businesses to provide information on a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland or a reason for needing an XI EORI, so HMRC could not verify the eligibility of businesses for an XI EORI.
To rectify this, the online registration form was updated from 14 September 2021 to require evidence of establishment or an allowable reason for having an XI EORI if the business does not have an establishment in Northern Ireland. The validation and removal exercise announced relates to those XI EORIs issued between 1 January and 13 September 2021 and is intended to ensure consistency of XI EORI allocations before and after 14 September 2021.
What we are doing
As per the announcement, HMRC is currently reviewing businesses with an XI EORI number and a GB address to identify whether they have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland. If businesses do not have such an establishment, HMRC will need to know if they still need their XI EORI number for specific activities.
Businesses that do not have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland may still be eligible for an XI EORI, but they will be limited in how they can use it.
If a business does not have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland and does not need their XI EORI, they do not need to contact HMRC. HMRC will remove their XI EORI after six weeks from the date of the letter sent to them.
What we are asking businesses to do
According to the announcement, businesses with a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland are being asked to provide evidence of this, which can be uploaded via an online form on Gov.uk.
For businesses without a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland, HMRC is requesting that they provide a reason for why they still need their XI EORI number. More information can be found on the Gov.uk website under the EORI section.
If businesses do not respond within the given timeframe, HMRC will assume that they do not have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland and no longer require their XI EORI number.
GB businesses that do not have a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland and intend to continue making declarations in an EU country will need to employ an indirect representative to make declarations on their behalf. However, for movements into Northern Ireland, they can continue to use the TSS, which is free of charge.
According to the announcement, HMRC will begin writing to businesses with an XI EORI number and a GB address from Thursday 13 April 2023 until Wednesday 26 April 2023. It is expected that engagement with businesses will continue into May 2023 as HMRC processes their responses.
Digitally Excluded Businesses
That’s correct. As per the announcement, businesses that are digitally excluded and cannot access the online form to provide evidence of their permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland or to provide a reason for needing their XI EORI number can also write to HMRC with evidence or confirmation that they still require their XI EORI number. In addition, businesses can also contact HMRC’s helpline at 0300 322 9434 for further information. The helpline is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 4pm.