Sanitary and phytosanitary checks and Points of Entry

At the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) Northern Ireland must comply with EU rules on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) eligible goods and animals trade in accordance with the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol (The UK’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, May 2020).

SPS Goods on CHED

From 01 January 2021, all agri-food goods, plants and animals entering Northern Ireland from GB, must do so via a Northern Ireland Point of Entry (POE). POEs which has been approved by the European Union (EU).  DAERA has worked, with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the EU to designate the following as POEs for the purposes of (SPS) checks:

  • Belfast Port;
  • Larne Harbour;
  • Warrenpoint Port;
  • Foyle Port; and
  • Belfast International Airport.

The designations for each NI POE on the 1 January 2021 are set out at Annex 1 of the Compliance Protocol. These will be subject to change as the facilities available at these POEs are further developed.

Further details on the POEs, their inspection facilities and the category of goods that will be inspected at each of these facilities is available at Points of Entry (PoE).

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks – general advice for businesses moving consignments from GB into NI

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures refer to the EU controls to protect animal, plant or public health. There are three checks in the SPS approval journey when moving SPS-related goods into NI from GB. These checks work alongside other necessary processes including processes operated by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force. They are not to be confused with those processes.

SPS checking process

From 01 January 2021, to bring a consignment of SPS-related goods into Northern Ireland from GB, three checks may be performed, depending on the nature of the consignment.

  1. Documentary Check: an electronic check to confirm the consignment of goods has the right commercial documentation and certification;
  2. Identity Check: Prior to departure from a GB port DAERA authorised staff will carry out an identification check on the commercial seal applied to the consignment;
  3. Physical Check: some consignments of SPS-related goods will be selected for a physical check when they arrive at a NI POE. The physical check is necessary to ensure that goods coming into NI are safe and meet with the legal requirements. If your consignment has been selected for a physical check you will be informed of this prior to arriving at a port in Northern Ireland and directed to one of a number of DAERA inspection facilities at the port. In addition to SPS checks, consignments selected for a physical check will also be subject to additional checks and marketing standards requirements.   

Current process planned for goods requiring checks upon arrival at a NI POE

The POE checks for SPS regulated goods must be carried out in compliance with the Official Controls Regulation (OCR). However, given the complexity of supply chains, it is imperative that these checks are delivered in a way that enables goods and products to move as seamlessly as possible through NI POEs, avoiding any unnecessary delay.

This will be achieved by making full use of the flexibilities available within the OCR, minimising the checks required whilst still adhering to the legal framework. Using the following flexibilities available within the current legislative framework and on the basis of risk assessments, the commodity types listed below will, for a short period of time, either be subjected to a reduce rate of physical inspection or some of the required identity or physical checks will be deferred to a later time:


The UK Command Paper of December 2020 and the ‘Unilateral Declaration by the United Kingdom in the Joint Committee’, had stated that, for a period of three months, goods from certain Authorised Traders can avail of a three month grace period when moving certain goods and products, destined to the retail market, from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. The UK Government has subsequently announced the continuation of the Scheme for Authorised Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI) arrangements for Authorised Traders beyond 31 March 2021. The STAMNI arrangements will continue to be in place until at least 1 October 2021.

More information on the requirements and processes for movement of retail goods from GB to NI can be found at DAERA’s dedicated page Retail Goods, within the Detailed Guidance for Authorised Traders and on the DEFRA GB-NI Showcase Site.

Products of Animal Origin

For a period of six months, some chilled meats, which are usually prevented or restricted from entering the EU from Third Countries, can continue to enter NI from GB under a number of conditions. Traders will be expected to demonstrate a continuous improvement in their compliance performance and will be required to move towards full compliance with EU law by 1 July 2021. At this juncture these products will no longer be able to enter NI from GB. Guidance for Authorised Traders Importing Prohibited Chilled Meats Products to NI from GB is being updated and will follow.

For other non-retail goods, it is intended that the requirements of OCR will be enforced from 1 January 2021.

A summary of the process can be found at Northern Ireland Trader Journey (not for retail goods).

There are a number of practical steps businesses can take in advance that will assist the inspection process should their consignment to be subject to one on arrival: 

1. Check the commodity codes of your consignment in advance

The recommendation is that businesses, in advance, check commodity codes and the EU’s requirements for the % goods requiring physical inspection for consignments moving from GB to Northern Ireland and where subject to higher levels of physical inspection at the Point of Entry, consider grouping consignments to minimise the routing of vehicles to the SPS inspection facility and possible delays.

2. Place consignments subject to inspection in easy to reach locations

As well considering amendment of business model to group consignments, it is useful if businesses can place consignments that might be subject to physical inspection closer to the door of a lorry or container, for example, so it is easily accessible on arrival.

For more details about SPS checks and what you need to pre-notify in advance using Traces NT, see Pre-notification of the arrival of consignments at a Northern Ireland Point of Entry from GB.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Checks – advice on goods transported through Dublin Port

Are goods coming from GB to NI or NI to GB through Dublin Port subject to customs and SPS checks?


  • From 1 January, it will still be possible to transport goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland via Ireland. However, there will be some changes to how this works and traders should assess which routes are most appropriate for their requirements.  
  • Goods entering Ireland from Great Britain bound for Northern Ireland can either (i) move under a customs transit procedure, or (ii) be treated as an import and customs cleared in Dublin. In both cases, if SPS goods are included in the load, full import SPS controls must be conducted at the point of arrival (i.e. Dublin) and the operator responsible for the consignment should pre-notify the Border Control Post 24 hours in advance of the consignment arriving, by generating a CHED on Traces NT and submitting the necessary documents via the DAFM import portal.  Safety and Security declarations will also be required and those checks must also be conducted at the point of arrival (i.e. Dublin).
  • Goods from Northern Ireland moving off the island of Ireland via Dublin Port will also need to be under customs control (i.e. a customs transit procedure or export procedure – either of which must include safety and security information) in order to board a ferry in Dublin Port.  Requirements for entry into the UK post-transition are still to be clarified.
  • For movements in both directions, operators will need to create a Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN) on the Irish Customs RoRo Service before proceeding to the port.  If this is not completed, the consignment will not be allowed board the ferry.
  • Operators must decide which process works best for them but, in every case, businesses can assist us in minimising delays by ensuring accurate and complete Customs declarations and SPS documentation are submitted in advance of moving goods.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Checks – advice on goods transiting the EU to GB to Northern Ireland landbridge

For goods that are transiting the EU-GB-NI land bridge only and will not be stopping in GB for additional consignments to be added to the load, DAERA require the consignment to be pre-notified on TRACES NT to ensure the NI Point of Entry is aware of the arrival of the consignment. The pre-notification step is essential so DAERA know that these goods originate from EU and full 3rd country requirements do not apply. There is also no requirement for export health certificates or the application of a commercial seal. These goods can travel with commercial documents only.

Process requirements for POAO from EU countries which are routed through GB to NI


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