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The UK government has submitted applications to the EU to create Border Control Posts (BCPs) at Northern Ireland's ports, as part of its legal obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.

At the same time, there will be “no new customs infrastructure” in NI, the government said, with the posts being used to check animal and food products arriving in the province.

Animal and plant checks

As NI will remain in the EU Customs Union, such checks for animal and plant products coming from Great Britain will be obligatory after the UK’s transition from the EU ends in December this year.

The UK government submitted its application to set up the posts “on time”, a government spokesman said.

The Northern Ireland Protocol requires the “limited expansion of facilities at some existing entry points” where there are already biosecurity checks on animals and plants, the spokesman said.

"We are continuing to work closely with the [NI] executive on proposals to minimise requirements on the movement of food and agricultural products, in line with the approach we set out in our May command paper," he said.

‘Unfettered’ vow

During Prime Minister’s Questions today, Boris Johnson vowed to ensure the “unfettered” movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

He was answering a question from Conservative MP Steve Baker, who asked: “We must get Brexit done. Can the prime minister confirm the Northern Irish [Ireland] Protocol won’t stop the UK applying whole-UK tariffs?”

In response, Boris Johnson said: “Not a sausage, not a jot, not a tittle of the Northern Irish [Ireland] Protocol will provide any such impediment to the unfettered access of goods and services between all parts of the UK.”

GVMS unveiled

In June the government unveiled a new IT system to automate the management of customs declarations between GB and NI, and GB and the EU, called the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).

Uncertainty remains on how the system will be delivered.