Licensing / Prohibitions

There may be a need to obtain import licences or export licences depending on the specific nature of the goods concerned. A greater range of licences will be required after Brexit EU wide licences and regulation will no longer be available or apply on certain specific areas.

Some goods entering the EU from the United Kingdom or leaving the EU to go to the United Kingdom are already subject to prohibitions and controls on the grounds of public policy and security, protection of the health and life of humans animals or plants and the protection of national treasures.

The nature of the goods determines the controls applicable. Some further controls and restrictions will apply after Brexit, as common EU systems of control will no longer apply. The tariff flags up the licensing requirements applicable to goods.

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. The 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.

Single Market Regulations

The above customs requirements do not fully describe the direct impediments to the import of goods which Brexit will cause. Many goods are regulated under EU wide rules. These rules will cease to recognise UK certifications in many sectors. Equally, the EU certificate will not be recognised in the UK, although a period of grace has been proposed on the UK site.

Producers will need to ensure that goods are certified for the standards in the other jurisdiction. The importer will assume greater responsibilities, including increased responsibility for product liability.

The current EU UK rulebooks will be, literally torn up and replaced by an entirely new regime overnight by which the UK has the status of an entirely external country to the EU. Even the above profound disruption, does not fully describe the many additional ruptures in rules and arrangements that are taken for granted in particular sectors and settings.

Share this article