Brexit: The Northern Ireland Protocol

Posted on: November 5, 2020

by Eleanor Grimes, PhD

UK and Irish flags - Brexit: The Northern Ireland ProtocolAs part of the Brexit Process, the UK and EU have established the Northern Ireland Protocol in a bid to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whilst still facilitating unrestricted movement of goods between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Great Britain mainland (GB). Therefore a series of special provisions (applicable 1 January 2021) have been put into place to meet this requirement, although for these provisions to remain it will eventually require a vote in 2024 in Northern Ireland.

The major difference for those managing chemicals in Northern Ireland, is that unlike the rest of the UK , products will still be subject to EU chemical law and not UK chemical law. This means for products to be placed on the NI market, they will have to remain as they are in compliance with EU REACH, CLP and any other EU chemical legislation currently covering their products.  Thus NI suppliers will not face any extra requirements if they are to export into the EU/EEA.

Enshrined within the Northern Ireland Protocol is the requirement for no further tariffs, new regulatory/customs checks, or additional approvals for NI businesses to place goods on the GB market. Therefore qualifying NI goods which meet the requirement for mutual recognition are free to be placed on the GB market. These goods are likely to be defined as:

  • “any goods present in Northern Ireland (and not subject to any customs supervision, restriction or control which does not arise from the goods being taken out of the territory of Northern Ireland or the European Union)
  • any goods that have undergone processing operations in Northern Ireland incorporating either domestic goods or goods not under customs supervision, restriction or control at the time of processing” 1, 2

That said, NI suppliers will still be required to classify/label and package their products in accordance with UK CLP to place the products on the GB market and to meet the UK REACH requirements, the GB importer or NI supplier of NI qualifying products will still have to notify the HSE of substances above 1 tonne entering GB. The notification will be undertaken via the UK REACH IT system and not have any fees attached. This will prevent further REACH registrations being required. The information required to be notified can be found on the relevant HSE pages. 3

Further information:

Brexit Chemical Product Guidance

UK REACH Guidance


Recommended Action Items

Review current strategy for product distribution to ensure compliance with both EU and GB regulatory requirements.

Stay alert to further developments.


Brexit, Northern Ireland

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