Transfer entitlements before 02 May 2017

Date published: 14 March 2017

The deadline for transferring entitlements for the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is 02 May. Applications received after the 2 May 2017 will not take effect until the 2018 BPS scheme year.


Transfers by sale, gift or lease are to be made through DAERA’s online transfer service.

A transfer of entitlements involves the movement of entitlements from one farm business to another by one of the following methods:

  • by gift,
  • by sale,
  • by lease,
  • through actual inheritance,
  • through anticipated inheritance.

The’ transferee’ or lessee’, that is the business receiving the entitlements, must meet the definition of an active farmer before entitlements can be transferred to them except in cases of actual or anticipated inheritance. However, even in cases of actual or anticipated inheritance, the business must be farming in order to activate entitlements for payment.

To initiate a transfer you will need the Entitlement Transfer ID and business ID of the transferee. If an agent is transferring entitlements on your behalf you will also need to provide them with your Entitlement Transfer ID. There is no paper form to complete and, if approved, the transfer will take place instantly.  You will receive an email to confirm the completion of the transfer.

Transfers by inheritance, or where there is a business change involved, cannot be facilitated through the online service. Further guidance and information on transferring such entitlements can be found in the Guide to the transfer of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) Entitlements 2017 on the DAERA website or by contacting 0300 200 7848.

Managing Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements

Entitlements are the means as to how farmers receive Basic Payment each year. They are allocated to active farmers, but do not automatically entitle a farmer to a payment. A farmer must ’activate‘(use) his payment entitlements and declare an equivalent number of eligible hectares in a yearly application (SAF) in order to claim under the BPS.

How to use entitlements in 2017

To activate entitlements for payment, you must;

  • hold at least 3 entitlements,
  • be actively farming at least 3 hectares of eligible land, and,
  • declare this land on your Single Application to claim BPS.

There is no limit to the number of entitlements that you can hold. However, in order to claim payment on each entitlement you must be actively farming one hectare of eligible land. All land must be declared on your Single Application to enable payment for all entitlements.   

There is no requirement for entitlements to be used each year. However, if you don’t use all of the entitlements that you hold at least once in any two year period, then you will lose some of them in the second year. This is known as the ‘two year rule’. Entitlements that go unused for two consecutive years will be returned to the Regional Reserve.

How the Department activates entitlements

The Department must first activate the highest value entitlements held by a business. They do not differentiate between standard and regional reserve entitlements or between those owned by your business or leased in from another. Therefore, if you hold ‘owned’ and ‘leased in’ entitlements and the ‘leased in’ entitlements are higher in value than those ‘owned’ by your business we will activate the ‘leased in’ entitlements first.

If you do not activate all of the entitlements at least once in any two year period, the entitlements ‘owned’ by your business may be at risk of confiscation. The following example illustrates this point.

A farmer holds 20 entitlements on 16 May 2016. Of these, 10 are the farmer’s own entitlements established in 2015 and valued at €200 each and 10 are leased in from another business in 2016 for a period of 3 years and are valued at €250 each. The farmer only declared 18 hectares of eligible land on his 2016 SAF.

The highest value entitlements were activated first. So, in 2016, 10 entitlements valued at €250 each and 8 entitlements valued at €200 each were activated. 2 entitlements were unused. If, in 2017, the farmer again declares 18 hectares of eligible land then 2 of the farmer’s own entitlements valued at €200 will go unused for a second year and will therefore be confiscated.

It is important to note there is no longer an option to keep hold of entitlements by rotating the ones that you use from year to year.

The ‘two year rule’

2017 will be the first year that the ‘two year rule’ will apply. If you did not activate all of the entitlements held by your business in 2016 and will not be farming sufficient eligible agricultural land to activate all of them in 2017, then you are at risk of losing some or all of the entitlements not activated for payment in 2016.

In order to avoid confiscation in 2017, there are two options available to you:

  • Increase the area of eligible land that you will be actively farming in 2017 so that the number of eligible hectares is at least equal to the number of entitlements held by your business; or
  • Transfer the entitlements that will not be used in 2017 to another business.

Not farming in 2017?

If you are no longer actively farming then you are not eligible for Basic Payment but you can lease or sell your entitlements to a business which is farming in 2017.

If, for example, you farmed in 2015 and 2016 but will be letting out all your land in 2017, you can lease or sell all your entitlements to the business which is farming this land in 2017. Alternatively, you can lease or sell some or all of your entitlements to any business(es) which is farming in 2017.   

If you are farming a reduced area in 2017 and as a consequence have more entitlements than the area you are farming, then you can lease or sell the surplus entitlements to another farm business(es).

Need help to complete your SAF online?

If this is your first time to complete your SAF online and you think you need help make the call now to the SAF Advisory Service on 0300 200 7848. An advisor will discuss the options available, including ‘one-to-one’ appointments in your local DAERA Direct Office. DAERA are also providing Farmer’s Workshops on ‘How to complete your SAF online’. If attendees bring their Government Gateway ID they may be able to complete their SAF at the workshop. Places at the workshops are limited so call 028 71319955 now and book a place.    

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