Import and export licensing

Import and export licensing already exist both in trade outside the EU and in some cases, but to a  lesser extent in trade in goods within the EU. In the event of a hard Brexit, some imports and exports which are not now subject to licensing in trade with the UK will become subject to licensing.

The terms of licensing differ depending on the nature of the goods and on the legislation concerned. See the separate sections in relation to some sample UK and Ireland licensing requirements which already apply in intra-EU trade and in trade with outside of the EU.

In most circumstances, licences are not required for trade between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Where they are required, they are issued by the relevant national authorities.

In certain cases, EU law allows for licences for import and export to be issued by a member state other than the member state where the goods enter or exit the European Union. In this context, licences issued by the United Kingdom will no longer be valid for shipments to or from the remaining EU members.

Principal Controls

Areas subject to licensing include

  • shipments of hazardous waste
  • certain movements of hazardous chemicals
  • movements of ozone-depleting substances
  • mercury and mixtures of mercury
  • drug precursors
  • genetically modified organisms
  • specimens of certain endangered species
  • cultural goods
  • rough diamonds
  • dual-use goods (military and civil)
  • firearms and ammunition
  • military technology and equipment
  • certain goods used in torture

In several of the above cases, existing trends EU licensing will no longer apply.

The European firearms Pass is no longer available and will not be recognised for EU visitors to the UK and for UK visitors to the EU.

In several of the above cases, the provisions do not now require export licences or import licences for intra-EU trade but do require them for imports in and exports out of the EU. Those categories of goods will become subject to licensing and controls after Brexit.

Dual Use Military Application

The movement of dual-use exports will be subject to different licensing requirements. Movement of dual-use items from the UK to the EU will require an export licence. Export licences issued in the UK would no longer be valid for exporting dual-use items from other EU states. Export licences issued by other EU states would no longer be valid for exporting dual-use items from the UK.

Most exporters of dual-use items from the UK will be in a position to register to use an open general export licence for exports to EU countries. The current open export licence system is likely to be revised in the event of a no deal Brexit. Exporters requiring individual licenses may apply for such licences in advance of Brexit if necessary.

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