The Government has announced a three-month grace period on new customs processes for parcels shipped into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
The long anticipated guidance comes after several major retailers, including John Lewis, suspended deliveries into the region amid uncertainty over new Irish Sea trading arrangements.
Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal deal, Northern Ireland will apply EU customs rules at its ports from 11pm on New Year’s Eve.
While the wider free trade deal has ruled out the prospect of tariffs on goods from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland, customs declarations will still be required.
Traders have been seeking clarity on whether declarations would be needed on all parcels being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including those being shipped directly to consumers.
The Government has announced that declarations will not be required on the majority of parcels sent to Northern Ireland until April 1.
Parcels requiring declarations will be those containing goods valued at more than £135 sent by GB businesses to NI businesses. Those businesses will also have three months to submit those declarations.
Declarations will also be required for excise goods, such as alcohol, being sent from GB to NI using an express carrier or Royal Mail Group.
Senders will need to provide their selected carrier additional information to enable declarations to be made.
The guidance does not provide any detail on what the customs arrangements will be following April 1.
The uncertainty over the issues had seen several retailers and dispatch companies warn of potential disruption, with some having suspended services to Northern Ireland until clarity was provided.
John Lewis is among those that have paused deliveries to the region.
The company’s website states: “Deliveries and collections are temporarily unavailable in Northern Ireland while we make adjustments in line with new Government legislation. We hope to be back soon.”
TK Maxx has taken a similar step. Its website states: “We are temporarily unable to ship orders to Northern Ireland. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and promise we’ll be back very soon.”
Hugo Boss has suspended deliveries until February.
Amazon has also warned that the new arrangements could lead to delays on the shipment of orders to Northern Ireland.