Intra-EU Controls

Intra-EU trade

Generally, there is free movement of goods and services throughout the EU. Border posts have been largely dismantled since 1992. The European Union Treaties allow limited exceptions that can be justified on public policy, health and security grounds.  EU states may maintain restrictions on free movement that are objectively necessary on these grounds.

The restrictions must be no more than are strictly necessary. They are interpreted very narrowly as they are an exception to the principle of free movement of goods, which is a basic principle of EU law. The concept of public policy in this context is very narrow. Many of the below restriction are justified on this basis.

The movement of goods inwards or outwards to and from the EU are “dispatches”. The EU is a single customs territory, so such movements are not subject to customs control. However, some licensing and consent requirements, such as CAP controls, arise under the EU scheme of legislation itself.

The import or export of such the goods are not prohibited or restricted as such, but are subject to system of EU wide controls which may require licences, consents, notifications and controls which when crossing internal EU borders.

Live Animals and Birds

The exportation of live birds and animals to places other than Northern Ireland is controlled. The dispatch of agricultural goods and animals to other EU states must be effected in accordance with the relevant EU legislation administered by the Department of Agriculture. The movement may require a licence from the Minister for Agriculture and Food in some cases.

Cattle, sheep, goats, bees, swine, equidae (horses etc.), live poultry and hatching eggs categories are the subject of common European Union rules, which allow and provide for controls on movements, both between EU states and out of the EU.  Pigeons are subject to older domestic legislation.

EU Directives make provision in respect of poultry meat, poultry eggs, rabbits and wild game.  There are common EU standards which make requirements and apply controls. Authorisations are required from the Department of Agriculture in respect of compliance with standards.

Domestic animals of porcine species may not be exported without appropriate veterinary and zootechnical certification by the Department of Agriculture.

Domestic cats and dogs must be accompanied by pet passport under EU regulations. Alternately their landing may be authorised by import licence granted by the Department under the Diseases of Animals legislation

Animal Products

European Union Directives control the movement across frontiers of carcasses and animal products including, meat and meat products.  They are subject to control under general EU foods safety legislation.  There are Directives on fresh meat, meat products and other products of animal origin, minced meat and meat preparations, trade in animals and animal products.

Milk and heat treated/pasteurized milk dispatched to an EU state must comply with EU Directives and regulations on hygiene, production and marketing.

Animal semen is subject to EU wide legislation administered by the Department of Agriculture.  There are separate regulations in respect of the semen and embryos of animals of bovine species.  They must be accompanied by appropriate veterinary and zootechnical certification by the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture’s animal health and welfare division is also responsible for the BALAI Directive which covers trade in animals and animal semen ova and embryos. There is specific EU legislation on the semen, ova and embryos of purebred breeding animals.  Separate legislation applies to cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses.  There are requirements in respect of identification and zootechnical certificates.


EU Directives on plants and plant products, organisms and cultures harmful to plants apply to the movement of plants and plant products within the EU.

Plants that are certified at the place of production are free to move on the home-market and throughout EU without additional inspection or formality. An identification label called a ‘plant passport’  must accompany certain plants, which identifies the grower, the origin and verifies that the plant is eligible to move within the EU.

Each member state is responsible for checking the compliance with the EU plant health requirements of plant material produced within its territory or entering its territory from non-EC countries. Once inspected and found to comply, the plants/plant products can qualify for plant passports (if required) and are then free to move within the member state or to another members state.

The plants subject to the plant passport requirements are listed in legislation. All other plants are free to move within the EU. Checks to ensure compliance with the intra-community requirements of the plant passport system can take place anywhere that plants are traded or grown. Plant health check inspections are carried out without regard to whether the plants were produced in Ireland, or in another member state

Cultural Objects

The Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Act provides for the regulation of the export of documents and pictures, with the object of preserving records which are of national, historical, genealogical or literary interest.

Licences are issued through the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland and administered by the cultural institutions unit of the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.

The export of archaeological objects is subject to licence under the National Cultural Institutions Act. EU legislation applies to the export of cultural goods.  Licences and consents are required from the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.


The dispatch of certain controlled drugs within the EU including narcotic drugs and psychotropic goods is subject to licence.

Pathogens may only be imported under licence from the Department of Agriculture. Animal remedies imporedt from other EU states must comply with regulations. Certain animal remedies are banned entirely including certain hormones

Pesticides may only be imported in accordance with EU rules on plant protection biocides

Military and Dual Use Product

There is the long list of military goods which may not be dispatched to other EU states without a licence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

EU regulations deal with dual-use products and cover their movements between member states.  Dual-use products are those which have both a civil and military application.  A license is required for the dispatch to other EU states of certain sensitive dual-use items and technologies.  The licences are issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Explosives and Firearms

Explosive pyrotechnic and equivalent substances are subject to control.  Licenses are required from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

There is EU legislation on explosives for civil use.  Licenses are required for intra-EU dispatches.  The consignor must provide the Department of Justice with evidence from the recipient state.

The export / dispatch of firearms is prohibited, save under licence.  The Department of Justice Equally and Law Reform authorises movements. Consent is also required from the relevant superintendent of Garda Siochana.

There is provision for a European firearms pass, which allows movement without authorisation from the Department of Justice.  It must be endorsed by the member state of destination and comply with domestic requirements.

The dispatch of offensive weapons is likely to require prior clearance under the legislation of the importing country.

CITES Convention

The CITES convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora provides for the control and the movement of a wide range of species.  Live specimens of various species may not be moved without consent and authorisation from the Department of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government.  The relevant authority is to research branch of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Movements within the EU of live specimens are subject to prior authorization from the management authority of the state where the specimen is located, particularly if it is for commercial purposes.  There are limited exceptions.


Books and publications may be the subject of prohibition orders under the Censorship or Publications legislation. Indecent or obscene publications may be seized under the Customs Consolidation, irrespective of whether a specific censorship order has been made

Materials may be controlled under the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 without consent from the  Department of Justice.

The Video Recordings Act regulates the control, supply importation of video recordings DVDs, and like material. They are subject to the same restrictions as books and written materials.


Foods imitation which is likely to be used by children and be a danger to them is subject to EU legislation. It must not be dispatched to other EU states.

There are prohibitions on the dispatch to other EU states of money for the purchase or for money representing the purchase of a ticket in a lottery or prize won in a lottery or documents relating to the same.  This does not apply to lotteries lawfully conducted in the State.

The export or transfer of child pornography is strictly prohibited under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

Radioactive substances may not be dispatched without a licence from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland as agent for the Minister for the Environment and Local Government.

The transfer of waste across frontiers is strictly controlled.  Any movements of specified waste are entirely prohibited. Others are permitted subject to licence.

References and Sources

Text Books

Customs Law of the European Union 4th ed 2012 M Fabio

EC Customs Law (Oxford European Community Law Library) 2nd Edition 2008 Timothy Lyons

Customs Code of the European Union Hardcover (1996) Tom Walsh  Damian McCarthy

European Union Customs Code 2015 Tom Walsh

EU Legislation

The Union Customs Code  Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

amended by Regulation 2016/2339

The UCC Delegated Act Commission Delegated Regulation No 2015/2446.

The UCC Implementing Act Commission Implementing Regulation No 2015/2447.

The UCC Transitional Delegated Act wCommission Delegated Regulation No 2016/341.

Copyright (Customs) Regulations 1964, S.I. No. 231 of 1964443