Reviewed in November 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.
What Happens Now?
From 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) is to be outside of the EU Single Market and Customs Union. Businesses in Ireland who move goods from, to or through Great Britain will be subject to new Customs formalities and regulatory requirements, regardless of the outcome of the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. There are to be no Customs or SPS controls on the island of Ireland, with or without a FTA.
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 will be subject to additional SPS border checks. This is to reduce the risks of diseases, pests, or contaminants entering from third countries.
Prior to the goods being imported, they must be pre-notified by the importer to national authorities. I.e. for imports into the EU using the Trade Control and Export System (TRACES), or for imports into GB using the Import of Product, Animals, Food and Feed Systems (IPAFFS).
Checks can then be carried out, including:
It is the responsibility of the “operator responsible for the consignment” to ensure that the appropriate paperwork is in place. The operator responsible for the consignment can be the importer, but is often a Customs agent acting on the importer’s behalf.
From 1 January 2021, full SPS checks will be imposed, with checks at BCPs and requirements for certificates, pre-notification through TRACES (24 hours before arriving at the BCP) and submitting the necessary documents via the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), or other import portal.
For more information, see Irish Revenue’s October 2020 Presentation on Trading in Agricultural Goods – SPS Checks and Requirements.
Irish Revenues advises that, from 1 January 2021, animals and goods moving between Ireland and another EU Member State via GB (the UK Landbridge) must be placed under the Customs Transit procedure, to maintain their Union status. EU regulations require certain SPS controls on animals and goods re-entering the Union. Discussions are ongoing to determine how this will work.
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.
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.
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).
·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.
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.
*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.
The below will help advise you as to what you need to do next to get your business prepared ahead of 1 January 2021.
Ireland & Northern Ireland – Verify what certificates are required to export/import the products.
Ireland – Ask suppliers if they will be able to provide the health/phytosanitary/catch certificates and the time this will take.
Northern Ireland – Identify the responsible person for your organisation.
Ireland – Decide how the consignment(s) will be presented at the Border Control Post – the simpler the load the quicker the import control process.
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.
Ireland – Complete pre-notification and submit the correct documentation 24 hours in advance.
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.
Northern Ireland – 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.