Various Controls

The importation of some goods of certain goods is subject to prohibitions, restrictions or licensing. The reasons for the restrictions and prohibitions vary.

Agricultural products

The Common Agricultural Policy provides that most imports of agricultural products require a licence. The Department of Agriculture issues import licences.  Different sections of the Department deal with licences in respect of meat, dairy products, cereals, fruit and vegetables.

The goods concerned include those covered by the common organization of the market. One purpose of the licensing system is to ensure the effective operation of the price and market controls under the policy. See the section on the CAP. The price and market control aspects are now much less prominent than in earlier decades.

EU wide food safety laws require that animal products and fish imported into the EU must be presented for veterinary inspection at an EU border post. The import of animal products and live animals must be notified in advance to the border inspection post. This is done by completing a common veterinary entry document. Agents acting for importers must register with the Department of Agriculture.

The following may not be imported from outside the EU without a Department of Agriculture licence in accordance with EU Legislation and criteria thereunder.

  • cattle and swine;
  • equidae (including equine animals such as horses, etcetera);
  • live poultry hatching eggs;
  • sheep and goats;
  • hobby birds

Other Animals

Domestic animals imported other than from the UK, are subject to restrictions. An animal must be accompanied by a pet passport under EU Regulation. It attests compliance with certain requirements. Alternatively, the landing must be authorised by an import licence granted by the Department of Agriculture.

There are certain varieties of mammals which require Department of Agriculture licences in the case of importation from a non-EU country. This is based on Disease of Animal legislation. They must be accompanied by a health certificate. The requirement applies to most carnivorous animals other than domestic dogs or cats;

  • bats,
  • anteaters, armadillos, shrews, moles, hedgehogs,
  • rabbits, hares,
  • kangaroos, wallabies,
  • primates,
  • rodents (including squirrels, marmots, pocket mice, kangaroo rats, mice, rats, hamsters);
  • Elephants,
  • aardvarks, antelopes, deer, giraffes.

Food of Animal Origin

Food of animal origin is subject to European wide food hygiene regulation. Food operators must ensure that all stages of production satisfy hygiene regulations. Fish products are subjected to similar regulation.

Animal products must come from approved export establishments in a non-EU country approved for export to the EU. They must be from an area with no health restrictions. They must travel with an official health certificate confirming compliance with hygiene models provided for an EU Legislation. They must be presented at the relevant border inspection post.

The personal importation of meat and dairy products is not permitted. Fish, honey and egg products to a maximum of one kilo, are permitted for import from approved countries, provided that they are appropriately wrapped and labelled.

Pre-packed foodstuffs may not be imported unless packed and marked in accordance with merchandise marks / consumer protection and food safety legislation. Imitation food may not be imported.

Tea which is unfit for human consumption or is mixed with other substances may not be imported.

Product Licensing and Requirements

Animal remedies, (veterinary medical products) must comply with EU wide legislation. Products containing certain substances are banned. Animal remedies may not be imported from outside the EU, save in accordance with manufacturer’s licence issued by the Irish Medicines Board now the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

There are restrictions on the importation and marketing of pesticides and biocides. Their importation, market and use are subject to requirements. Importers must furnish the requisite details to the Department of Agriculture. Certain plant protection products including listed types of pesticides and biocides are entirely prohibited.

Products must be notified, authorised, registered and permitted by the Department of Agriculture.

Fruit and Vegetables

The import of potatoes from outside the EU, except from certain designated countries in a raw or unprocessed state, is prohibited. The importation must be inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

Fresh fruit and vegetables originating from non-EU countries may not be released unless they are accompanied by a certificate of conformity. This requirement covers most fresh fruit and vegetables.

Plant Products

Plant products, organisms and cultures harmful to plants are subject to restrictions. A phytosanitary certificate is required for certain materials listed in EU Law including most varieties of wood. A Phytosanitary Certificate is an official document issued by the Horticulture and Plant Health Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet specified phytosanitary import requirements, and are in conformity with the requirements of the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the Importing Country

Plants and plant products may be imported from outside the EU, only under a general authorisation. Plants and plant products subject to plant health controls from outside the EU must be notified to Department of Agriculture and must be inspected at the point of entry.

The importation of wool from outside the EU requires a Department of Agriculture licence.

Regulations apply to the importation of wood, packaging material, pallets and crates in order to prevent importation of harmful forest pests and diseases. The requirement applies to wood, bark, chips particles, sawdust wood waste and scrap. Special requirements may apply, depending on the country of origin and the species of wood. Certain types of bags, wrappers, boxes, crates and containers used for animal carcasses may not be used without a licence.

Valuable Metals and Diamonds

Gold, silver and platinum manufactured in or imported into Ireland are subject to mandatory assay and hallmarking. There must bare an Irish mark, a convention mark or an equivalent EU mark.

Precious metals imports including jewellery, watches, clocks are subject to entry in a bonded warehouse. Once duty and vat are paid, they must be delivered to the Assay Office for test and certification. Non-compliant goods may be downgraded or exported.

The importation of rough diamonds is subject to a Kimberley process certificate being presented.


Counterfeit money may not be imported. This applies the notes and coins including sterling or euro currency.

Individuals entering or leaving the EU with cash in excess of €10,000 must make a declaration to the customs authorities. Cash includes bearer negotiable instruments, such as traveller cheques and negotiable instruments. This requirement arises from money laundering legislation.

Persons entering or leaving the EU must make the declaration at Airport or land frontier. It is an offence to fail to do so. The customs authorities may make searches and detain undeclared cash.

Infringing Intellectual Property

It is an offence to import infringing copies of copyrighted works or articles designed for making infringing copies or recordings.

An individual who owns intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, copyright or designs etc., may apply to the Revenue to take action against the import or export of goods which are suspected to infringe intellectual property rights.

Customs on encountering counterfeit or pirated goods may notify the rights holder of an infringement. Pirated goods may be detained for a period to allow the rights holders to take the appropriate action. The provisions cover

  • counterfeit goods;
  • goods which infringe a patent;
  • goods which bear a false trademark;
  • packaged goods infringing copyrights;
  • goods which infringe a plant variety right, a designation of origin or a geographical indication or designation.

Goods bearing false marks and misleading trade descriptions are may not be imported. The importation of fictitious stamps, plates, instruments, or materials for making the same is prohibited.

Gambling & Alcohol

Lottery tickets, counterfoils and coupons may not be imported.

Spirits and wines imported from outside the EU must be reported. They must be carried in certain specified vessels or casks.

Molasses, golden syrup, malt, yeast, hops, treacle and certain like products may be imported only, subject to Garda Siochana control.


Medicinal products are subject to restrictions. Prescription medicines may not be imported by mail order.

Medicines without a product authorization issued by the Irish Medicine Board, not the Health Products Regulatory Authority or an equivalent EU body are prohibited. The supply of medicines wholesale requires a wholesale licence. Products for the market must contain a product information leaflet.

Drug precursors are subject to special rules. All imports into the EU must be documented. businesses trading in precursors must be licensed. The import of certain specified precursors must be authorized by the Department of Health.

Explosives and Weapons

Explosives, fireworks, pyrotechnic and similar substances may not be imported without a licence issued by the Department of Justice.

Firearms and ammunition may not be imported other than under licence or by the holder of a firearms certificate in the quantity specified in the certificate. Firearms are widely defined.

The importation of offensive weapons is prohibited. This includes items such as flick knives, knuckle dusters, certain swords, weapons with sharp spikes, belt buckle knives, push daggers, butterfly knives, blowpipes, blowguns, machetes and certain other listed items.


The importation of indecent articles, publications and videos from outside the EU is prohibited. Indecent is to include material suggestive of sexual immorality, unnatural vice or likely in another similar way to correct or deprave.

Books and publications may be prohibited under the Censorship of Publications legislation. Such publications may be imported, only with a licence from the Department of Justice.

The control and supply of video recordings, DVDs and like media of prohibited material may be prohibited. Licences may be granted by way of exception.

The Importation of child pornography is prohibited and constitutes a serious criminal offence.

Surveillance and Quotas

EU wide surveillance applies to certain products originating from specified non-EU countries. This applies to footwear, textiles, iron and steel. An import authorisation is required.

Certain textiles are subject to quantitative restrictions under an agreement between EU and China.

Certain iron and steel from outside the EU are subject to quotas and quantitative restrictions. Products may be imported, only with an import authorisation from a competent authority in the member state. The licensing unit of the Department of Job, Enterprise and Innovation trade issue the requisite licences.

Dangerous Materials

Radioactive substances and nuclear devices may not be imported, other than under a licence from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.

Unmanufactured tobacco may not be imported from non-EU countries, without a Revenue Commissioner’s licence. Similarly. Oral and smokeless tobacco products intended for chewing are prohibited.

The importation of certain materials from certain countries is prohibited. The importation of rough diamonds from Liberia, directly or indirectly, is prohibited. Certain goods and technology may not be imported from Iran and North Korea.

Environmentally Damaging Products

There are restrictions on the transport, transhipment and movements of waste. The treatment varies depending on whether the waste is sent for recovery or disposal. Waste disposal is generally prohibited. If moved for recovery, different conditions apply depending on the nature of the waste.

Certain movements of waste are prohibited entirely including exports of hazardous waste to developing countries or imports of hazardous waste for disposal. Other movements are subject to notification controls, including

  • hazardous waste for recovery;
  • any waste moving for disposal;
  • imports and exports of non-hazardous waste for recovery.

Reduced controls applied to certain non-hazardous green listed wastes.

Ozone-depleting substances are subject to restrictions. Persons involved in the production, importation, marketing, use, recycling, reclamation or destruction of such products must obtain import licences via the ODS database on the EU Commission’s website. There are quotas in respect of the importation of such products.

The CITES Convention

The Department of Environment manages CITES licensing in Ireland. Certain species of wild animals listed in legislation, may not be imported without a valid permit or certificate. Certain species require a valid import and export documents, from each of the importing and exporting countries.

The importation from outside the EU of

  • a wild animal, wild bird,
  • eggs or spawn of a wild animal or birds
  • certain traps snares and nets.
  • certain fur skins of certain types

is prohibited.

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