The purpose of establishing a base or presence in the Republic of Ireland might be to sell and distribute products from Ireland to the European Union without having to clear them through customs, both through HMRC on their exit from the United Kingdom and through the relevant customs authority, in the EU state of import.

For example, it may be the case that customers in the EU are not willing or able to undertake customs formalities so that goods might be either produced in Ireland or imported and cleared through customs into Ireland, for further distribution onto the European Union.

In many sectors, the only controls on goods are general product liability, safety and broad civil liability obligations (equivalent to the common law duty of care) in the EU country of import. It is likely that in most circumstances, general UK product safety legislation and basic common law duties of care will continue to be broadly equivalent to that in EU states, even if there is regulatory divergence.

Apart from agricultural food products, where controls at the border are extensive in most cases, there are likely to be some element of regulatory controls at the border in the case of some other goods,  It is not contemplated that the UK and EU will maintain a regulatory union, even under the Labour Party’s policy proposals.

EU Issues

The standards applicable to goods in the EU will be the same as those applicable in the UK at the moment of Brexit (e.g. end of the transition period). After Brexit,  UK regulatory may standards may diverge from those in the EU in some specific sectors. This may be mitigated or avoided in the trade / future relationship agreement whihc may provide for some measure of regulatory harmonisation or the recognition of regulatory equivalence.

In the case of some types of goods, there are specific regulatory compliance and authorisation procedures which must be met in order for those goods to circulate freely within the European Union. The regulatory position is set by EU law in these cases and the approach taken depends on the nature of the goods.

In some cases, certification of compliance is met by conformity with an approved prototype. In many cases, the manufacturer certifies compliance and conformity. In some other high-risk more complex risky cases, an external certification body must confirm conformity either in a sample batch/risk analysis places or in some exceptional cases on an individual basis.

In these cases, it will be necessary that the Irish establishment has the necessary regulatory approvals from the Irish authority. This will depend on the nature of the goods.

Specific Product / Licensing Requirements

The mechanism and type of regulation will be broadly similar to that in the United Kingdom prior to Brexit. For example, the Health and Safety Authority as well as being the occupational health body, licenses and controls certain dangerous chemicals in much the same way as the Health Safety Executive in the United Kingdom.

The Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority licences medicines. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has a broad remit in relation to foods. The National Standards Authority of Ireland is the body dealing with standards and accreditation generally.

Export / Import Checks

Some goods are subject to licensing and export/import control. This applies even at present in trade between the EU and other countries in very limited circumstances. However, some licensing and control such as in relation to sanction goods, some agricultural goods, chemicals and many others are subject to EU wide requirements.

Accordingly, those areas which were not formerly subject to licencing control by the relevant government department (depending on the nature of the goods) would be subject to licensing and control post Brexit

Apart from specific goods that are subject to licensing, general UK and EU regulatory laws on non-food goods standards are routinely enforced at the customs border.

Based on the information declared to HMRC or the other EU country’s customs authority, checks may be required for compliance with the legal regulatory standards for the goods concerned. At present, while customs works efficiently with non-EU countries only,  a lot of the focus of the EU customs and revenue authorities is on compliance and conformity issues of this type, in trade from and to outside the European Union.

Agricultural and Foods Products

Some products such as foodstuff, animals and plants are subject to more rigourous and systematic control in almost all circumstances when they enter the EU. Some lesser controls already exist even in trade within the EU at present, from a food safety perspective.

After Brexit, all animal, vegetable and foodstuffs will become subject to a significantly more rigourous regime of checks unless some relieving measures are agreed between the EU and UK. Imports and exports from the EU are also subject to control for the purpose of maintenance of the residual elements of price support still remaining under the Common Agricultural Policy. Import are subject to levies in some cases and exports are subject to subsidies, all of which are collected through the customs procedure.