On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.. Content on the site is being monitored to reflect this and the changes.

Below are some frequently asked questions relating to Trading in Services for businesses in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Data

What is Data?

Data protection is about the privacy of information (data) relating to people. It covers any information collected, held or used by a business or organisation that relates to a living person in any way, that is held in electronic form or in a physical filing system.

Detailed guidance on data protection for businesses based in Ireland, is available here

Detailed guidance on data protection for businesses based in Northern Ireland, is available here.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the EU wide regulation that contains the data protection rules. These common rules set out the obligations of businesses and organisations that acquire, hold, control or deal with personal data and the rights of persons to whom the information relates.

Detailed guidance on the rights and responsibilities of businesses and organisations under GDPR in Ireland is available here.

Detailed guidance on the rights and responsibilities of businesses and organisations under EU and the new UK GDPR is available here .

What are the rules for data transfers to the UK after 2020?

Ireland – Under the GDPR rules, all transfers of data (personal information) must be permitted by consent or another valid basis. This requirement will continue to apply to all movements of personal data, as at present. Additional protections will be required under EU GDPR where data moves from the EU (including Ireland) to the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) after 1 January 2021, unless the EU Commission makes an adequacy decision about the new UK rules; “a deal”. For more information, click here.

Northern Ireland – Additional protections will be required under EU GDPR rules where data moves out of the EU to the UK after 1 January 2021, unless the EU recognises the adequacy of the UK’s data protection rules before the end of the year. For more information, click hereClick here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

What are the rules for data transfers to Northern Ireland after 2020?

Ireland – The new United Kingdom GDPR rules will apply to Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021. Therefore, the position for data transfers to Northern Ireland, whether or not there is an adequacy decision (“deal” or “no-deal”), will be the same as that for data transfers to Great Britain. 

Northern Ireland – If your business is already transferring data covered by data protection rules to and from states outside the EU about which the EU has already made an adequacy decision, the position will remain unchanged in most cases. The Information Commissioner’s Office website indicates:   “To date, 12 of the 13 third countries deemed adequate by the EU have informed us they will maintain unrestricted personal data flows with the UK.” Businesses and organisations affected should follow guidance and updates on the ICO’s website. 

If there is no adequacy decision on data; a “no-deal”, what should I do now?

Ireland – If your business involves the transfer of personal data from Ireland to the UK (including Northern Ireland), and no adequacy decision has been made by the EU, you will need to act to ensure that alternative protections are put in place so that you can continue to transfer personal data after 1 January 2021. The Data Protection Commission has published guidance about the transfer of personal data from Ireland to the UK (including Northern Ireland) in the event of a “no-deal” on data. It includes FAQs and the required clauses for the transfer of data in that event. For more information, click here.

Northern Ireland – No additional requirements will apply to the transfer of data from Northern Ireland to Great Britain after 1 January 2021. The whole of the United Kingdom is covered by the new UK GDPR. For more information, click here. Click here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

What happens if there is an adequacy decision for UK GDPR rules; (a “deal)” before year end?

Ireland – If there is an adequacy decision by the EU Commission on the UK’s data rules, then data may continue to move from the EU to the UK without the additional protections that would be required, if there is no adequacy decision. For more information, click here.

Northern Ireland – Additional protections will be required under EU GDPR rules where data moves out of the EU to the UK after 1 January 2021, unless the EU recognises the adequacy of the UK’s data protection rules before the end of the year. For more information, click here. Click here to visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 


What about moving data from the UK to Ireland?

Ireland – The UK government has indicated that no new requirements will apply to transfers of data from the UK (including Northern Ireland) to the European Union (including Ireland). The UK government states that the position will be kept under review. For more information, click here.

Northern Ireland – If your business involves the receipt of personal data from Ireland or elsewhere in the EU, and no adequacy decision has been made by the EU, you and the sender will need to act to ensure that alternative protection is put in place so that you can continue to receive personal data after 1 January 2021. The EU sender of data to you will be required under EU GDPR to put in place alternative protection, which may include an agreement or further clauses in your agreement concerning the protection of the data which is transferred. The UK Government has published guidance on data flows for UK businesses and other organisations that receive data from organisations abroad including those in the EU. The guidance is available here

Qualifications

What Qualifications can be recognised throughout the EU?

Ireland – The EU legislation applies not only to the traditional regulated professions but also covers over 180 regulated activities in the commercial craft and industrial spheres. Information on the recognition of qualifications in the European Union and the EU’s database of regulated professions and activities can be found here.

Qualifications may be recognised based on experience and educational awards with or without further compensatory training and/or educational requirements in the host state. Certain health professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons); and architects whose qualification is in one EU state qualify for recognition without compensatory measures in other EU states subject to conditions. Lawyers and auditors are not automatically recognised but are subject to facilitated recognition.

Northern Ireland – The EU wide legislation on the recognition of qualifications applies to the traditional regulated professions and also covers over 180 regulated activities in the commercial craft and industrial spheres. Information on the recognition of qualifications in the European Union and the EU’s database of regulated professions and activities can be found here or here.

The UK list of regulated professions can be found here.

Qualifications may be recognised based on experience and educational awards with or without further compensatory training and/or educational requirements in the host state. Certain health professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons); and architects whose qualification is in one EU state qualify for recognition without compensatory measures in other EU states subject to conditions. Lawyers and auditors are not automatically recognised but are subject to facilitated recognition.

What is the position on qualifications from 1 January 2021?

Ireland – The EU legislation on the recognition of qualifications will cease to apply to the United Kingdom as and from 1st January 2021. The Irish Government Guidance indicates that:

“Qualifications obtained in the UK will continue to be recognised in Ireland during the transition period (from 1 February to 31 December 2020). After the transition period ends, there may be implications for people working in Ireland who obtained professional qualifications in the UK, or who seek to have a UK qualification recognised in Ireland. If you have already had these qualifications recognised by the relevant regulator, there will be no change and you can continue to practise in Ireland or elsewhere.”

Northern Ireland – The EU system for the recognition of qualifications will cease to apply to the United Kingdom as and from 1st January 2021. The United Kingdom Government has stated in its guidance on the recognition of qualifications obtained in the EU and EEA, that those qualifications which have been recognised by the relevant regulator by 1st January 2021 will remain valid and that applications made before that date “will be completed under the existing rules where possible”.

 The UK guidance is available here.

What should you do if you rely on qualifications obtained in the UK to work or trade in Ireland?

If you are self-employed, a business or an employee who relies on qualifications obtained in the United Kingdom to work or practise in Ireland which have not already been recognised in Ireland, then you should consider seeking recognition of the qualifications before the end of the year.

Registration applications and queries should be addressed to the relevant professional or qualification body or regulator. The list of occupations and regulators for Ireland is published on the Irish Single Point of Contact website.

What should you do if you rely on qualifications from an EU state to work or trade in Northern Ireland?

If you are self-employed, a business or an employee who relies on qualifications obtained in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU to work or practise in Northern Ireland which have not already been recognised in the UK, then you should consider seeking recognition of your qualifications before the end of the year.

Registration applications and queries should be addressed to the relevant professional or qualification body or regulator. In the case of some bodies, the regulator is local to Northern Ireland, while in other cases, there is a UK wide regulator.

Is other guidance available on the recognition of qualifications?

Ireland – The European Union has also published guidance on the recognition of qualifications of regulated professionals.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland has published helpful information on the recognition of qualifications in both the UK and Ireland after 1st January 2020.

The Irish Government has published guidance and frequently asked questions about travelling, living and working in the United Kingdom after 1st January 2021 here.

Northern Ireland – In most cases, the best place to start is with your regulator or qualifications body. Links to UK regulators and qualifications bodies can be found at the UK single point of contact here.

NARIC, the UK’s agency for recognising international qualifications and skills provides extensive information on the recognition of qualifications in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom Government has also published specific guidance notes for certain professions subject to specific rules on recognition of qualifications including auditors, architects, legal services, healthcare professionals and social care professionals.

What if you plan to work in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK in the near future?

If you hold Irish qualifications and plan to work or practise regulated profession or activity in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the United Kingdom, you should consider seeking recognition of your qualifications there before 1st January 2021.

Registration applications and queries should be addressed to the relevant professional or qualification body or regulator. In the case of some bodies, the regulator is local to Northern Ireland, while in other cases, there is a UK wide regulator.

The UK’s single point of contact which comprehensive links for each occupation is here.

NARIC, the UK’s agency for recognising international qualifications and skills provides extensive information on the recognition of qualifications in the United Kingdom.

What if you plan to work in Ireland or another EU state in the near future?

If you hold UK qualifications and plan to work in or practise a regulated profession or activity in Ireland or another European Union state, you should consider seeking recognition of your qualifications in Ireland or that other European Union state before 1st January 2021.

The Irish Government Guidance indicates that:

“Qualifications obtained in the UK will continue to be recognised in Ireland during the transition period (from 1 February to 31 December 2020). After the transition period ends, there may be implications for people working in Ireland who obtained professional qualifications in the UK, or who seek to have a UK qualification recognised in Ireland. If you have already had these qualifications recognised by the relevant regulator, there will be no change and you can continue to practise in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU .”

The United Kingdom has published extensive guidance on living in, providing services and travelling for business to various EU and EEA countries after 2021. The guidance for the relevant country can be searched by entering the name of the country concerned here.

The Irish Single point of contact is here. There are single points of contact for every other EU state, which are available online.

How do I get my NI/ UK qualifications recognised in Ireland?

The Irish Government has published guidance on getting qualifications recognised in Ireland. For further information, click here.

The European Union has also published guidance on the recognition of qualifications of regulated professionals.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland, the Irish qualifications authority has published helpful information on the recognition of qualifications in the UK and Ireland after 1st January 2020.

E-Commerce 

What is E-Commerce?

E-commerce refers to the sale and purchase of goods and services over the Internet or through other electronic networks. E-commerce can include the sale of goods, digital services and non-digital services over the internet or which are facilitated by the internet or other electronic networks.

There are common EU-wide rules concerning required website information, internet contracts, data protection, digital platforms and consumer protection. For more information, click here.

The UK is replacing these rules in the UK with identical rules in most cases to take effect on 1st January 2021. The UK Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy published guidance in August 2019 on changes in consumer rights from 1 January 2021. The guidance is available at here .

How are e-commerce rules changing for businesses based in Northern Ireland?

Most of the existing EU rules on e-commerce will be reinstated in almost identical terms as UK law from 1st January 2021. There will be some important changes because the UK will no longer be covered by EU rules for digital services provided within the European Union, from 1st January 2021. The changes in Northern Ireland will be the same as in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The UK Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport published guidance on the E-commerce Directive on 6 July 2020. It is addressed principally to UK digital service providers. The guidance is available here.

VAT

I trade goods cross-border. Will VAT be affected?

VAT will remain unchanged until the end of the transition period which is 31st December 2020. The NI protocol has agreed that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK VAT area but will follow the EU VAT rules for goods.  HMRC have issued guidance on how these VAT rules will operate.

Where can I find more information on VAT?

InterTradeIreland will update the information presented here as the operational aspects of the arrangements are worked out. In the interim we would suggest the Revenue to be used as a key source of information for businesses in Ireland and the GOV.UK website to be used as a key source of information for businesses in Northern Ireland.

What is VAT postponed accounting?

Ireland – VAT postponed accounting allow Irish companies importing from the United Kingdom to postpone payment of VAT due on imports until the VAT return is filed. For more information visit the Revenue website.

Northern Ireland – VAT postponed accounting means that importers will be able to declare and recover import VAT in their next VAT return in respect of rest of world imports, rather than when their goods arrive at the UK border. To do this they will need to provide their VAT registration and EORI number on their customs declaration and also state  on the customs declaration that they are opting for postponed VAT accounting. From 1 January 2021 postponed accounting for VAT will apply to all imports of goods, including from the EU (note this does not apply for EU goods that arrive in Northern Ireland). For more information on VAT visit the GOV.UK website.

How will the trade in services with Northern Ireland change?

The current rules on trade in services will continue to apply during the transition period. The outcomes of EU/UK trade negotiations with respect to services remain to be seen. In line with Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the envisaged partnership should aim at substantial sectoral coverage, covering all modes of supply and providing for the absence of substantially all discrimination in the covered sectors.

Will an NI non audit accountancy practice with a client base in Ireland have issues post brexit? Would they need to be VAT registered in Ireland?

General Rules

After Brexit the general position will be that where a UK business (to include NI businesses) provide services to a business customer in Ireland, VAT will not be chargeable in the UK.Under the corresponding VAT legislation in Ireland, VAT would be chargeable in Ireland to the business recipient (under reverse charge procedures).  This would be similar in substance for many purposes to the present position. UK service providers at present obtain the VAT registration number of the business recipient in the other EU state. After Brexit, evidence of the presence and business status in the Ireland will be required. This may initially be the Irish VAT number. There is no registration threshold for received services.  

Post Brexit B2C 

After Brexit, where a UK business (to include NI) provides services to a private person/consumer in Ireland, VAT may or may not be chargeable in the UK (or Ireland) depending on the nature of the service. At present the NI supplier would charge UK VAT to ROI individual as this is an intra community supply of service and VAT is chargeable where the supplier is established.Post, Brexit, the NI supplier will not charge VAT. This is a Third country (non-EU) company supplying services to a private individual in the EU.  However there are exceptions to the general rule on supply of services.