What is Brexit?

Process and negotiations

The United Kingdom (UK) held a Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016. It subsequently invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union.

As a result of these actions, the UK has left the European Union (EU) and is now a non-EU country.

Invoking of Article 50 triggered the start of a two-year negotiation process. The objective of the negotiations was to agree the terms of the UK's departure from the EU in an orderly manner.

A draft Withdrawal Agreement was under discussion since February 2018. Please see the European Council timeline of events for further information.

In January 2020, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament ratified the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK entered a transition period from 1 February 2020 until  31 December 2020. During this period, the UK continued, for the purposes of the movement of goods, services, and people, as if it were a full EU Member State. Provisions relating to Northern Ireland are covered by the revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement effective from 1 January 2021.

Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK has been agreed and was provisionally implemented from 1 January 2021. Following consent by the European Parliament, the Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2021.

The Revenue Chairman’s Opening Statement to the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach in May 2017 provides some additional background.

The European Commission provides information on ongoing developments in relation to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).

Revenue and Brexit

Revenue's objective, in the future EU-UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) trading environment from 1 January 2021, is to facilitate legitimate trade to move as speedily and efficiently as possible. This is for trade that is directly with the UK (excluding NI) or through the UK landbridge to the European mainland. Revenue's focus is on assisting business to:

  • assess the impact of Brexit
  • and
  • avail fully of relevant simplifications and procedures available under the Union Customs Code.

This will minimise the potential negative impacts of Brexit and support the efficient and timely flow of trade.

Revenue's priority is to ensure that our IT systems will support smooth and efficient trade flows.

In line with government approval, we have recruited additional staff to deal with East-West trade. Infrastructure at our ports and airports have been developed to manage the new trading environment to assist the flow of goods.

Revenue continues to engage directly with businesses, economic operators, trade and representative bodies to provide support to them in overcoming the challenges and adapting to the new requirements arising as a result of Brexit.

Further information

If you have a specific query in relation to Brexit and customs matters, please  email brexitqueries@revenue.ie with the relevant details.