Exporting material from GB to Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Protocol
- EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
- Points of Entry (PoE)
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks
- Notification of imports to a Point of Entry
- TRACES NT
- Growing media
- Used Agricultural and Forestry Machinery
- Authorised Traders
- Movement Assistance Scheme
- Trader Support Service
- Training course information
The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) had the potential to create a border – referred to as a hard border – between Northern Ireland (who voted to leave the EU with the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland (a member of the European Union).
There was a fear that creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland – as has existed in the past – had the potential to create division and reignite tension between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was presented as a solution to this potential issue. The Northern Ireland Protocol permits people and goods to travel freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without any physical borders, but means Northern Ireland must comply with EU rules on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) eligible goods.
As a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol, trade between Northern Ireland and the European Union remains largely unaffected. However, since England, Scotland and Wales are no longer members of the EU, it has been suggested that a virtual border now exists in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The trade deal reached between the European Union and United Kingdom on Christmas Eve 2020 meant that businesses throughout the UK would be able to sell their goods to the EU without being subjected to tariffs.
However, EU rules limit what can enter the EU market from non-member countries, which means landscape and horticulture businesses in the United Kingdom wishing to export to EU countries will face non-tariff obstacles including additional paperwork, including the need for plant phytosanitary certificates and health checks on goods.
Due to the Northern Ireland Protocol, businesses in England, Scotland and Wales wishing to export goods to Northern Ireland face obstacles related to paperwork, certification and checks on goods. The landscape and horticulture industry has been affected by this.
The European Union places plants and plant products in categories according to their biosecurity risk, with some high-risk plants and plant products currently banned from entering the EU – and therefore also Northern Ireland. Many plant genus are currently classed as high risk by the European Union, meaning businesses in England, Scotland and Wales are currently prohibited from exporting some plants to Northern Ireland.
The European Commission requires a risk assessment to be submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for review before high-risk goods are permitted to enter the EU - and Northern Ireland. This risk assessment will be a collaborative effort between the trade and Defra, Forestry Commission, Forestry Research, and devolved administrations, and submitted by Defra to the European Commission.
Once the risk assessment submitted by Defra has been authorised by EFSA, organisations in the UK will be permitted to export high risk plants and plant products to N.I. and the EU without issue, providing a phytosanitary certificate is provided. The risk assessment and associated dossiers submitted to the European Commission are comprehensive and will take time to collate. Once submitted to the European Commission, it is unclear how long it will take for the European Commission to process each risk assessment.
All plants and plant products entering Northern Ireland from England, Wales and Scotland, must do so via a Northern Ireland Point of Entry (PoE) which has been approved by the EU. The following ports have been designated as POEs for the purposes of SPS checks:
Foyle Port; and
Belfast International Airport.
SPS measures are EU controls on the movement of plants between non-EU and EU countries, and exist to protect animal, plants and public health. There are three separate checks associated with the SPS system, which may be performed on plants and plant material moving from England, Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland. Note: these checks are in addition to processes associated with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force. The three checks are as follows:
1. Documentary Check: an electronic check to confirm the consignment of goods has the right commercial documentation and certification
2. Identity Check: Prior to departure from a GB port, The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)-authorised staff will carry out an identification check on the commercial seal applied to the consignment
3. Physical Check: some consignments of SPS-related goods will be selected for a physical check when they arrive at a NI PoE.
Plants and plant materials arriving at a PoE must be provided using the EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES NT). Importers or their agents must register as "Economic Operators" before they can use the system.
A link to TRACES NT is here: please click
A link to a recorded training session for creating a TRACES NT account is available here: please click
A link to a recorded training session for using TRACES NT is available here: please click
As of March 2021, exporters may move bulbs or vegetables with growing media attached, as well as plants that have been grown in soil, from England, Wales and Scotland to Northern Ireland. This is provided consignments are sent by an authorised operator and meet GB plant passporting requirements for growing media. Goods must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate for all movements between GB and NI.
Please note: Growing media as a standalone commodity remains prohibited from entry to NI from GB, as do prohibited and high-risk plants as outlined here on the BALI website. Prohibited and high-risk plants remain prohibited from entering NI (or EU) from England, Wales and Scotland for the foreseeable future.
As of March 2021, exporters are permitted to transport used agricultural and forestry machinery to Northern Ireland without the need for a phytosanitary certificate, providing the machinery has been washed to remove excessive soil and debris. Machinery is not required to be entirely free from soil prior to export, nor does it require an inspection by plant health inspector prior to movement from GB to NI.
As of 1st January 2021, ‘Authorised Traders’, who routinely export goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, have been granted a 3-month grace period from certification including phytosanitary certificates.
Authorised Traders include supermarkets and their trusted suppliers, whose goods are packaged for end users only. The UK government and Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs have contacted traders to whom this exemption applies.
Click here for more information.
From 1st January 2021 businesses exporting plants and plant products to Northern Ireland are required to arrange inspection and certification of the goods they export. The only exception to this requirement for certification (a plant phytosanitary certificate) are Authorised Traders.
To ease the burden on businesses exporting material to Northern Ireland, government inspectors will not charge for inspecting or issuing plant phytosanitary certificates to businesses.
Click here for more information
Any trader or carrier who moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland should register for the Trader Support Service. Registered traders can claim free training, resources and support; see below for details:
Click here to book a place on Introduction to Customs course or watch a prerecorded video at the bottom of the page
Click here to book a place on Great Britain to Northern Ireland Trade course or watch a prerecorded video at the bottom of the page
Click here to book a place on Introduction to Tariffs and Classification course
Click here to book a place on Logistics in GB:NI Trade course or watch a prerecorded video at the bottom of the page
Click here to book a place on Trade Procedures and Documentation course
- Support and resources
Click here for more information