SPS Checks

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, now in place, means change. It will require adapting to new trading arrangements, rules and regulations. This information for cross-border SMEs in Ireland and Northern Ireland focuses on important Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Controls information and key actions to get your business prepared.

Important SPS Information

Northern Ireland to Ireland and Ireland to Northern Ireland (Cross-Border Trade)

As agreed in the Northern Ireland Protocol which covers Trade in Goods there will be no customs paperwork requirements for the cross-border trader. To read the NI Protocol click here.

Ireland to Great Britain and Great Britain to Ireland

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. 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. Documentation (for example an Export Health Certificate, EHC) will be required and you will also be required to pre-notify your national authority prior to the goods being imported.

Checks can then be carried out, including:

  • Documentary checks e.g. an Export Health Certificate (EHC) for animals/animal products, a phytosanitary certificate for some plants/plant products or a catch certificate for some fish.
  • Identity checks to verify that the goods match those on the documentation.
  • Physical checks, the frequency of which depends on the risk associated with a commodity.

The next steps: 

Ireland goods entering GB:

  • On 8th October the UK published its updated Border Operating model, introducing border controls in three stages for EU goods arriving in GB, with full SPS controls.
  • Stage 1 – From January 2021: Imports of high-risk live animals, plants and animal/plant products must be pre-notified to the UK authorities via IPAFFS, have correct health documentation and may be subject to checks. Physical checks will be carried out at the point of destination/other approved premises.
  • Stage 2 – From April 2021: Pre-notification (via IPAFFS) and health documentation will be required for all products of animal origin, regulated plants and plant products. Physical checks will continue to be conducted at the point of destination/other approved premises.
  • Stage 3 – From July 2021: Goods requiring SPS checks will need to move through designated Border Control Posts equipped to handle the particular type of goods.

GB goods entering Ireland: 

Transiting the UK Landbridge: 

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. For more information, click here. 

Northern Ireland to Great Britain & Great Britain to Northern Ireland

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. Click here for more information.

GB to Northern Ireland: The Northern Ireland Protocol has recently granted some easements for supermarkets. It outlines a grace period extended to authorised traders, such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers. They will benefit from a grace period, through to 1st April 2021, from official certification for products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products. The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will engage in a rapid exercise to ensure these traders are identified prior to 31 December so they can benefit from the grace period. Click here for more information. Please see below list of steps they will need to follow:  

Wood Packaging Material

From 1 January 2021 all wood packaging associated with goods (e.g. boxes, crates, dunnage, pallets) moving between GB and the EU must meet ISPM15 International Standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. The UK has advised that it will carry out checks on a “ risk targeted basis only“. 

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

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: Identify the responsible person for your organisation.

Northern Ireland: Register for IPAFFS.

Ireland: Register with national authorities, TRACES and/or IPAFFS.

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

Ireland: For DAFM, click here and contact BrexitRegistration@agriculture.gov.ie

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

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 Import of products, animals, food and feed system (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. 

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