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

There are to be no tariffs or Customs controls on the island of Ireland, regardless of the outcome of the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the EU will also continue to move freely. From 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) is to be outside of the EU Single Market and Customs Union. Northern Ireland will belong to a different sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) zone to the rest of the UK, with new SPS requirements for goods moving from GB to Northern Ireland. 

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Controls

To reduce the risks of diseases, pests, or contaminants entering from third countries, the export and import of live animals, products of animal origin (including fish), germinal products, animal by-products (i.e. not for human consumption) and some plants are subject to SPS border controls and checks. 

GB to Northern Ireland

With the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological unit, live animals being moved from GB to Northern Ireland already undergo checks upon arrival.

From January 2021 agri-food products entering Northern Ireland from GB will need to:

·Enter via a designated point of entry (the list is still being finalised).

·Pre-notify movements on the UK’s Import Of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System, IPAFFS (the UK Government has promised to provide further guidance).

·Hold Export Health Certificates for movements of live animals and animal products, Phytosanitary Certificates for movements of plants and plant products and Catch Certificates for some fish. The UK Government has introduced a new digital online application service, EHC Online (EHCO) to streamline the process. The Export Health Certificate will need to be completed and signed by an appropriately qualified officer e.g. Official Veterinarian for products of animal origin.

There are additional requirements for aquatic animals and endangered species.

Goods will be subject to documentary and ID checks and perhaps physical checks at the point of entry depending on the perceived risk of the commodity.

An import licence from the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) may be required, as is the case today.  Access further information on import licences.

For more information relating to specific products and their SPS requirements, please click here.

Northern Ireland to GB

The UK Government has promised “unfettered access” for goods moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK – without the need for additional approvals, Customs or regulatory checks. The precise arrangements are yet to be determined.

 More information is available here.

Between Northern Ireland and EU Member States

For goods in free circulation in Northern Ireland moving to the EU (including Ireland), there are to be no substantive changes for how goods currently move. 

More information is available here

Key Actions

The below will help advise you on what you need to do next to get your business prepared ahead of 1 January 2021.

Verify what certificates and other documentation are required to export/import the products.

Identify the responsible person for your organisation.

Register for IPAFFS.

Ask suppliers if they will be able to provide the health certificate/phytosanitary certificate/catch certificate, and the time this will take.

Identify a designated point of entry (when the list is available) for goods moving from GB to Northern Ireland.

Notify the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) if importing live animals and germinal products from the EU to Northern Ireland.

Decide how the consignment(s) will be presented at the Border Control Post – the simpler the load the more efficient it is to process through all stages of the import control process.

Submit notification in IPAFFS at least 24 hours before the consignment is due to arrive at the border control point. This can be done up to 30 days in advance. 

Helpful Links

*Trade negotiations between the EU and UK are ongoing, as are discussions of the EU-UK Joint Committee (under the Withdrawal Agreement). Decisions made in these processes may affect some of this guidance.

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