Parcel delivery service ParcelHero is calling for the continued suspension of the introduction of full customs declarations paperwork and extra customs procedures on parcels being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland (NI).

The UK government imposed the suspension unilaterally in March this year, for six months, after new customs rules created as a result of Brexit, were found to be causing severe delays to parcel deliveries to NI.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “There was a period of chaos at the beginning of the year as stores such as John Lewis stopped delivering to customers in NI.

“This was only ended with the UK’s unilateral decision to extend the grace period on deliveries. However, it was met with fury by the European Union (EU), which launched legal proceedings against the UK Government.

"This time, a proper negotiated delay, agreed by the EU and the UK is essential to end fears of further delivery chaos.”

Under the government’s own self-declared deadline, the grace period for business-to-business (B2B) deliveries was extended until 1 October. After that date, full documentation, procedures and checks are set to be imposed, in the same way they are currently imposed on items being shipped to the EU.

B2C delivery companies were given six months to prepare for new arrangements from an agreed date at the end of the grace period.

Jinks said: “New agreed delays will be the acid test of the government’s Northern Ireland Protocol agreement which, at its core, stipulated that there would be no new checks on goods crossing the border between NI and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

"Put simply, it was not possible to guarantee unfettered shipments once the decision had been taken that NI would remain in the EU's single market for goods even after the rest of the UK left.

"If private individuals and retailers are forced to complete the comprehensive Customs documentation, potentially having to supply proof of origin of the items and even their individual components, new checks will be inevitable to ensure the shippers have given the correct details.

He added: “It’s hard to conceive of a solution that will satisfy UK retailers and manufacturers, individuals sending parcels to friends and family in NI, and EU negotiators.

"Things are already a lot more complicated than they were pre-Brexit. NI-based businesses receiving goods valued at £135 or more through an express carrier or Royal Mail must submit a Customs declaration within three months of receiving the goods. It’s all extra red tape that increases costs for businesses.”

The government is expected to make an announcement on whether it will continue the extension this week.