9th March, 2023

Blog – The Windsor Framework Explained

by Team Pinnacle

Our Lead Consultant for Sales and Export Growth, Lynsey Foster, works collaboratively with the wider team at Pinnacle Growth Group to ensure the highest levels of quality, customer service and project success.

Here, she gives her insights into the key considerations for Northern Ireland’s SMEs following the announcement of the Windsor Framework.

“Announced on 27th February by UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the new ‘Windsor Framework’ amends the Northern Ireland Protocol. Changes include the improved trading of goods from Great Britain(GB) to Northern Ireland (NI), amendments to VAT rules, arrangements for the movement of parcels, and new governance mechanisms.

“Over one week since the deal was announced, we are now in a new phase of getting to grips with the detail of the agreement and what it means for Northern Ireland’s SMEs across all sectors. Whilst the agreement creates stability and security for businesses, we may see issues arise over the coming months, as they begin to understand and implement the new arrangements.

The ‘Command Paper’ released provides a lot of detail that local businesses across all sectors should be aware of and overall, there are a number of key takeaways within the Windsor Framework that Northern Ireland’s SMEs should consider.

Customs and the introduction of the green lane model

“The first of these is customs and the introduction of the ‘green lane’ model, which is set to be introduced in Autumn 2023. The Windsor Framework has introduced a new ‘green lane’ for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, based on an expanded trusted trader scheme. This means that the process for moving GB goods bound for sale or use in NI will be freed of unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties.

“Businesses will, instead, be required to submit a reduced amount of data for their goods, using standard formats, such as a commercial invoice. A key benefit of the green lane is a considerable reduction of the amount of necessary customs procedures and checks on goods entering NI from GB. This should allow NI businesses to save on both time and resources, although they should continue to complete the required declarations for the movement of goods from GB to NI until any new arrangements are in place.

The new Internal Market Scheme

“Another consideration for local businesses is the new ‘Internal Market Scheme.’ The scheme will allow businesses to declare goods as ‘not at risk’ of entering ROI and/or the EU. This will, in turn, allow them to benefit from the green lane model.

“The scheme will build upon the existing UK Trader Scheme and will be underpinned by the existing Trader Support Service (TSS). NI businesses that are currently using the UK Trader Scheme will be automatically re-authorised on the new scheme when this is launched and will not need to re-apply if already registered.

Tariff Reimbursement Scheme

“The Windsor Framework also includes a new ‘Tariff Reimbursement Scheme’ that is set to be introduced for businesses that have previously moved goods into NI and were uncertain during the time of entry whether the goods would remain in NI or would travel onto the EU.

“Many businesses expressed concern in terms of what would happen if they did not know where their goods were destined for when entering NI and if they should declare the goods ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’, so the introduction of the reimbursement scheme is welcomed. 


“Another consideration for NI’s SMEs is the movement of parcels from GB to NI. Under the terms of the Windsor Framework, NI consumers ordering from GB businesses can continue to order and receive goods through the postal service with no customs declarations required. Parcels that are sent from business to business (B2B) will move through the green lane model.

“The current grace period on business to consumer (B2C) movements will continue until new arrangements are in place from October 2024. These new arrangements will cover both B2C and B2B movements relating to parcels.

SPS Checks

“The new deal aims to deliver a dramatic reduction in the number of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks with the introduction of the ‘NI Retail Movement Scheme,’ of which retailers, wholesalers, caterers, and those providing food to public institutions like schools and hospitals, can become members.

“A single document will now need to be provided for mixed loads of agricultural food, to show that the goods are bound for NI only. This will be electronically and remotely processed, without being physically checked. A ban on the entry of prohibited products, such as sausages, into Northern Ireland from GB will also be permanently lifted.

VAT and Excise

“A final key consideration for local businesses would be VAT and Excise as under the NI Protocol, Northern Ireland is subject to EU VAT and excise rules in relation to goods. This has prevented changes, such as the introduction of a VAT zero rate for energy-saving materials, from being applied UK-wide. The Windsor Framework amends the legal text to ensure that Northern Ireland will be subject to the same VAT and excise rules that apply to the rest of the UK.

“It is important that NI’s SMEs understand all aspects of the Windsor Framework and what it means for them and their sector.

“To find out more about the new trading arrangements for SMEs within Northern Ireland, and what it means for your business, please get in touch with myself or the Sales and Export Growth team at Pinnacle Growth Group.”

For more expert business advice, email us at: info@pinnaclegrowth.group