Reviewed in September 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.

What is changing?

Northern Ireland will leave the European Union single market in services on 1 January 2021 together with the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK single market in services. The Northern Ireland Protocol which provides for special treatment for trade in goods in Northern Ireland does not apply to services. 

The EU UK negotiations on a future relationship agreement include proposals for some guarantees and arrangements in relation to providing services cross-border from the UK into Ireland and from Ireland into the UK. Regardless of whether or not there is an EU UK future relationship agreement before the end of 2020, there will be changes to some of the guarantees and rules that apply at present in relation to providing services cross-border into the EU. 

If there is no agreement, the WTO agreement on services (GATS) will apply to trade in services cross-border from the UK into Ireland and the rest of the EU. If there is an agreement it will build on the GATS agreement and is likely to cover most sectors and methods of doing business. In either event, one important effect is that the strong EU single market guarantees will be replaced by looser and less easily enforceable rules. See the FAQ section of this website. 


The Irish Government’s principal page on Brexit related issues can be found here – sign up for alerts!

The Irish Government published its updated Brexit Readiness Action Plan in September 2020 which contains useful and detailed information for Northern Ireland businesses which provide services cross-border into or in Ireland. 

Businesses should also review the official UK Guidance including the searchable guidance and regulation notes on that page, relevant to your business, which is issued and updated by UK Government departments on an ongoing basis. The guidance and regulation notes cover a wide range of issues, some of which apply to particular service sectors, and some of which cover issues relevant to most or all service providers. You can sign up for relevant alerts in accordance with preferences. 

It all comes back to planning! Anticipating the risks and pitfalls unique to your business can avoid or at least mitigate unknown problems. In most cases, something can be done. Although all the consequences of Brexit cannot be foreseen, many of the direct and obvious impacts can be anticipated and managed.