The EU applies tariffs and quotas on certain products originating outside the EU.  The Schedule of Customs Duties indicate the quotas and eligibility for preferential tariff for the relevant goods.

There are annual limits on the amounts that may be imported or may be imported at preferential rates (either reduced or zero). They apply to the EU as a whole.  When the quota limit is reached, the full duty is payable on other goods imported in the period.

Quotas are generally managed on a first-come-first-served basis or by import licence.  Under the AEP system, a request for a first-come-first-served quota is transmitted to the Commission.  The quotas for agricultural products are managed by the Department of Agriculture.  Other licence-based quotas are managed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Ceilings are annual limits provided by EU regulations by which certain a quantity of specified goods may be imported at reduced or nil rate.  They apply to the EU as a whole.  Where the ceiling is reached, the full duty may be applied to the goods for until the remainder of the calendar year.

The EU Commission may investigate cases of dumping and apply anti-dumping and countervailing duties.  They are in addition to other duties and levies applicable.

Regulation of Exports / Dispatches within EU

A range of legislation restricts and controls imports from and exports outside the European Union. For the most part, there is free movement of goods within the European Union.  There are very limited exceptions to free movement.

Some of the below legislation also places controls in a limited number of cases on exports or so-called dispatches, from the State to other EU States as well as exports. Some intra-EU controls are based on EU legislation. These intra-EU controls are the subject of another article.

CAP Duties

Following the Uruguay Round of GATT 1995, certain levies payable on agricultural products were replaced by specific duties, which provide for an additional agricultural component, which was then phased out over a period.

CAP import charges are charged under regulations and are collected in the same manner as customs duty by Revenue. The Customs Acts apply.  Further CAP import duties known as additional amounts are applicable to some products.  They may differ in rate depending on the country of origin.

The Common Agricultural Policy regulates the export of agricultural goods outside the EU.  An EU licence is required.  Licences are issued by the Department of Agriculture.

Many agricultural goods are covered by common EU market organization rules. They include, in particular, cereals, rice, beef, veal, sugar, oils, fats, milk and milk products.

An export licence or certificate pursuant to EU regulations is required for export, which may give an entitlement to a refund.  The system is part of the price and other controls under the common agricultural policy.

Live Animals

The export of live animals is prohibited without authorisation out of the EU, under EU legislation. Alternatively, a licence may be issued under the Agricultural and Fishery Products Act.  Live animals include cattle, swine, equidae (horses etc.), live poultry, hatching eggs, sheep, and goats.

EU Directives make provision in respect of poultry meat, poultry eggs, rabbits and wild game.  There are common EU standards which make requirements and apply controls. Authorisations are required from the Department of Agriculture in respect of compliance with standards.

Domestic animals of porcine species may not be exported without appropriate veterinary and zootechnical certification by the Department of Agriculture.

The export of live pigeons to places other than Northern Ireland requires a licence under domestic legislation.

Fruit and Vegetables

EU regulations apply marketing standards in respect of fresh fruit and vegetables.  The following products generally require a certificate of conformity before being exported from the EU customs territory;

Apples, pears, apricots, almonds, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, bananas, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, citrus fruit courgettes, garlic, hazelnuts, leaves, leeks, lettuce, melons, onions, peach, nectarines, peas for shelling, plums, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, tomatoes, walnut, watermelon and cultivated mushrooms.


There are controls on cash entering and leaving the EU. Individuals entering the EU with cash more than €10,000 must make a declaration to the customs authority on departure.  Cash in this context includes currency, bearer negotiable instruments and equivalents.  There is a common form of declaration.

The declaration must be made at airports and other ports or terminals.  Some states require separate controls and declarations for movement of cash within the state, in addition to the EU controls.

Intellectual Property

EU regulations provide procedures for monitoring pirated and infringing goods.  They include goods in breach of trademark, design rights, copyright and equivalent rights.  The right holder or representative may apply to Revenue to prevent the import or export of goods suspected of infringing their intellectual property rights, where they are being imported or exported in or out of the EU.

The customs in the course of its checks may take action and notify the rights holder of possible infringement.  The rights holder may apply for action to be taken. Counterfeit goods include those which bear without authorisation, a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a validly registered trademark.

Pirated goods are goods that have been copied without the consent of the relevant copyright or equivalent rights holder.  Goods may also be infringing because of breach of national or community plant variety, designation of origin or geographical indication provided by EU or domestic law.

Heritage Goods

EU regulations deal with the exportation of cultural goods.  Licences are required.  Exports of cultural goods are subject to authorisation by the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism and in some cases, certain cultural institutions.

The Documents and Pictures Regulation of Export Act seeks to preserve records which are of national, historical, genealogical or literary interest.  The legislation was repealed by a provision of the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 which had not commenced.

Archaeological objects may not be exported without licence issued by the National Museum of Ireland.

Controlled Drugs

Exports of certain controlled drugs including narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are prohibited, except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister for Health.

Exports including transshipment and intermediary activities involving drug precursors must be documented and identified.  Businesses trading in them must have a licence or be registered. EU regulations provides for rules establishing licensing procedures and the monitoring of trade.

Dual Use / Military

Dual-use items are items with civil and military uses.  There are a number of categories including nuclear materials, some fuels, chemicals, microorganisms, toxins, electronics, computers, telecommunications, sensors and lasers, marine propulsion systems.

Export of these products outside the EU must be the subject of a general licence or an individual licence.  The general licence is the Community general export authorisation.  The licences are administered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation.

The Control of Exports specifies military and paramilitary goods which may not be exported without an export licence from the Department. The export of an offensive weapon is likely to require clearance in the export country.

Explosives and Firearms

Explosive, pyrotechnique and equivalent substances are prohibited without a licence from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation; the Control of Exports order.  A range of substances designated in the Explosive Substances Act and statutory instruments made under it are covered.

Firearms and ammunition may not be exported except by licence from the Department under the Control of Exports order.  There is an exception for privately owned firearms and ammunition imported for limited periods for personal use during visits.  All exports require an authorisation issued by an Garda Siochana.  The authorisation must be displayed on the relevant packaging or parcels.


Money for the purchase of or any money representing the purchase of a ticket or chance in a lottery or a prize won in a lottery, documents relating to the same or indicating the identity of the holder of the ticket, are prohibited from exportation under Gaming and Lotteries Act.  This does not apply to documents printed in the State for the promoters of a lawful lottery within the State.


Certain countries are the subject of international sanctions by the EU pursuant to UN action. Regulations are made which control exports to these countries.  They are typically countries involved in wars, conflicts, and human rights abuses.  Most of the restrictions are limited to goods linked to military activities and in some cases software and technology, as in the case of Iran and North Korea.  There are restrictions in force in respect of Liberia, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Somalia et cetera.

Arms embargos in export restrictions apply in relation to a range of countries.  They also apply to entities associated with certain bodies including, in particular, Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Goods which may be used for torture are prohibited and may not be exported.

Waste and Hazardous Materials

The transmission of waste across frontiers is tightly controlled under the waste legislation.  Movements and transfers of waste out of the State are subject to controls and consent.  Different controls apply depending on whether the waste is being sent for recovery or disposal.

Most shipments are prohibited but may be allowed subject to notification and controls.  If the movement of waste is for recovery, it may be permissible under EU legislation.

The status of the t country of dispatch and destination is relevant. The export of hazardous waste to developing countries is prohibited for all purposes, even if for recovery.  Notification controls apply to all permitted exports and imports of hazardous waste, waste for disposal and some imports and exports of non-hazardous waste. The consent of the local authority may also be required.

Substances depleting the ozone layer in particular CFCs, halons, and HCFCs require an export authorisation. It must be given to the customs at the time of export in order to comply with EU requirements.

Exports of certain other controlled substances are subject to authorisation in accordance with international conventions entered by the EU.

Regulations made under the Radiological Protection Act prohibit exportation outside the EU of radioactive devices, nuclear devices, and radioactive substances.  An export licence is required from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland as agent for the Department of Environment and Local government.


The Kimberly Diamond certification scheme is provided for under EU regulation.  Exports of rough diamonds to certain countries outside the EU are subject to a Kimberly process certificate.  The matter is administered by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resource.

Wildlife I

The CITES convention restricts trade in wild animals and plants. EU regulations provide for the application of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora or fauna.

The Department of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government is the authority in Ireland.  The CITES scientific advisory body is the research branch of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department.

The Wildlife Acts prohibits the export or import of specimens of animals and fauna, many of whom are endangered. The export or re-export of a specimen of species listed in the legislation is prohibited without a permit or certificate by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.  There are similar restrictions in relation to imports.

Most categories of wildlife and flora and fauna may be imported only through certain designated location, in particular, the main airports and seaports.  There are also restrictions on the export of live plants and timber.

Wildlife II

Wild animals and wild birds may not be exported outside the EU, except under licence by the National Parks and Wildlife services. Wild birds and wild animals are defined in the wildlife legislation.  Also covered are their carcasses, specimens, skulls, antlers, eggs, bones, skins, fur, et cetera.

There are exceptions, such as the exportation of specimens shot by the person concerned in accordance with a valid hunting licence on a non-commercial basis.  The export of apparel made wholly from skin or fur of the species, s forms part of the baggage and is shown to be the personal effects of the person concerned.


Books and publications may be the subject of prohibition orders under the Censorship or Publications legislation. Indecent or obscene publications may be seized under the Customs Consolidation, irrespective of whether a specific censorship order has been made

Materials may be controlled under the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 without consent from the  Department of Justice.

The Video Recordings Act regulates the control, supply importation of video recordings DVDs, and like material. They are subject to the same restrictions as books and written materials.

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