Brexit Bites, 5 February 2021

Feb 04, 2021

This week’s Brexit Bites focuses on the unrest over the Northern Ireland Protocol, technical difficulties with Revenue’s AIS system and readers can also access our latest edition of Brexit Digest which focuses on customs and trade.  

Unrest in Northern Ireland

UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the unrest in Northern Ireland over the practical implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Following the meeting, a joint statement was released stating that the UK and EU would work to find solutions to the outstanding issues over the Northern Ireland Protocol.  This job falls to the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

No customs or food safety checks have taken place at Belfast or Larne ports since Tuesday with staff from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and the European Union having to abandon their posts due to intimidation.   

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Gove wrote to the European Commission Vice President urging him to extend easements for supermarkets and their suppliers on post-Brexit checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland until 1 January 2023, as well as finding  a permanent solution for the chilled meat products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are otherwise prohibited. Mr Gove also requested for changes to the current arrangements in place for parcels, pets and medicines.  

The meeting was called to try and come to some arrangement over the long-term implementation of the Protocol amid the threats to staff working at ports in Northern Ireland.

The row over EU vaccine exports last week has not helped matters when the EU attempted, without apparent proper consultation, to stop the export of vaccines to Northern Ireland using emergency provisions under Article 16 of the Protocol – a move that was retracted some hours later.  

Thursday’s technical issues with AIS largely resolved

Revenue has notified us that the technical issues experienced by users of the Automated Import System (AIS) on Thursday (4 Feb) which impacted the completion of Pre-Boarding Notifications (PBN) have been largely resolved.  Readers are reminded to sign up to receive notifications of such downtime by emailing

Revenue issued the following notification last night:

“Further to our earlier notifications, the Automated Import System (AIS) is fully restored for all traders, except for designated large operators with whom Revenue has engaged earlier today.  Backlogs have been cleared and declarations are being processed as normal.

Traders who submitted a "Fallback" Customs import declaration to their Customs station by email should, unless the Customs declaration was already accepted, now submit their declaration in AIS.  The relevant Customs Station must be advised of the Customs import declaration MRN as soon as is reasonably possible.

Traders should now revert to the normal procedure for creating a PBN, i.e., inserting all of the relevant MRNs.  However, any traders faced with an imminent ferry departure can , if necessary, continue to avail of the existing PBN  easement.

We thank for your patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Brexit Digest – Special Customs Edition

In our latest edition of Brexit Digest that was sent to subscribers yesterday morning, we focus on customs and trade. A recent survey carried out by the Institute revealed that customs paperwork is causing headaches for traders across the island with calls for better practical guidance from government to enable declarations to be completed correctly. In this edition, we look at common errors made when preparing customs declarations as well as tips to avoid these pitfalls.  We have also assembled some of the Irish and UK government guidance on customs administration and systems.  Read Brexit Digest.