New Government initiative to help customs capacity post-Brexit

7th August, 2019

  • The Irish Government, in partnership with industry, launches new initiative to support Irish businesses trading with or through the UK in preparing for new customs formalities arising from Brexit.
  • Clear Customs offers eligible customs agents, customs intermediaries and affected businesses a free training programme to build capacity in the customs sector.
  • Additional support of €6,000 per trainee will be available to participating eligible companies to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to undertake training and take up new customs roles.
  • Skillnet Ireland has developed the Clear Customs initiative on behalf of Government in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, and key industry bodies. The CILT Skillnet (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) will deliver the programme in conjunction with the Irish Exporters Association and Irish International Freight Association.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, today (7 August) launches a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU, notably under No Deal.

The number of customs declarations required is estimated to rapidly increase due to Brexit, from 1.6m annually to an estimated 20m after Brexit.

Clear Customs has been designed by industry for industry as they prepare for the new customs requirements post-Brexit. The initiative, which is being made available immediately to customs agents, intermediaries and eligible businesses free of charge, comprises of two elements:

  • Firstly, a training programme delivered nationwide over a period of 6 weeks providing the essential skills needed to make a compliant customs declaration.
  • Secondly, eligible businesses can apply for a Customs Financial Support payment to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles. Subject to terms and conditions for eligibility, this payment is up to €6,000 per employee that completes the training programme, up to maximum of 10 employees per company.

Clear Customs is the latest Government initiative developed to further address the significant risk identified in the Government contingency planning that, despite the series of measures already undertaken, there will not be enough capacity in the customs agents sector in the period immediately following a no deal Brexit. Previous actions in the area have included the rolling out of customs training courses across the country through both the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland, together with the introduction of changes to the employment permit system to allow an additional 300 workers to come to Ireland for customs roles.  

Skillnet Ireland is now seeking expressions of interest from businesses who wish to develop their customs capacity. Businesses should visit to learn more and register for the initiative.  Expressions of interest for Customs Financial Support payment must be made via the Skillnet Ireland website before 20th September 2019.

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D.:  “If you trade with the UK, Brexit will most definitely impact your business. This targeted measure is aimed at supporting and incentivising capacity building in the customs agent sector. This is complementary to the Government’s overall efforts to support and facilitate smooth and efficient trade flows. You should make necessary preparations now to minimise disruption to your business come 31 October – register for an EORI number, work out how you are going to make your customs declarations and if you will require a customs agent to assist you.”

Commenting on the new initiative, Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. called on businesses to act now before the Brexit deadline: “Many businesses are telling me that it is difficult to plan for a situation that remains so unpredictable. That is understandable. It can be difficult for firms to plan from week-to-week let alone beyond that and into the unknown. Notwithstanding the uncertainty, however, there are several areas where they can take immediate action to prepare. This Clear Customs initiative is one of those areas, so I am advising businesses to start now and not leave it too late.”

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development John Halligan T.D. said: “Clear Customs is key to ensuring that businesses are supported to upskill staff rapidly by 31st October 2019 to deal with any new customs challenges. Government recognises the need for support in this area and this free training from Skillnet Ireland is an important step in ensuring businesses are prepared. We are calling on business owners to provide leadership and avail of this opportunity to train their staff in customs clearance procedures, pre-empting Brexit related customs implications for their business.”

The Clear Customs initiative is led by Skillnet Ireland, the Government agency responsible for workforce development, together with Enterprise Ireland. The training programme has been designed in close collaboration with key industry associations and will be delivered by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Skillnet, in conjunction with the Irish Exporters Association and Irish International Freight Association.

Launching Clear Customs, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy said: “At Skillnet Ireland we pride ourselves on our ability to respond quickly and effectively to the skills challenges that business face right across the economy. Clear Customs is a powerful example of what can be achieved through effective collaboration between the State, the business community and training providers”.

Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive Julie Sinnamon: “Since the UK Referendum vote, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices have developed and are delivering a wide range of specific supports in key areas to assist businesses prepare for Brexit. Transport and Logistics is one of those key areas where companies need to research and examine their supply chains, customs procedures, product certification and licensing processes to ensure they are Brexit ready. This new customs training support scheme we are launching will further assist companies increase their capabilities in this important area whilst also helping to reduce disruption to trade following Brexit.”


Notes to Editors

Interviews & other media queries

Paul Healy, CEO, Skillnet Ireland is available for media interviews in relation to the Clear Customs initiative.

About Skillnet Ireland

Skillnet Ireland is the Government agency dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of in employment upskilling. Skillnet Ireland operates on an enterprise led basis, working with over 50 industry representative groups, and assisting 16,000 firms and 60,000 trainees each year.

About Enterprise Ireland (EI)

Enterprise Ireland is the Government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. EI works in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets.

About the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)

The Local Enterprise Offices work in partnership with the Local Authorities, Enterprise Ireland and are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The LEOs network assists micro enterprises and small businesses to help them start, grow and expand and offer advice and guidance in respect to procedures relating to import and export processes. There are 31 Local Enterprise Offices located nationwide.

About CILT Skillnet

CILT Skillnet in partnership with other representative bodies are delivering the Customs Clearance on behalf of Skillnet Ireland. The CILT Skillnet is promoted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and is open to private enterprises across these sectors throughout the Republic of Ireland. The objective of this national network is to support the growth of Ireland’s logistics, transport and supply chain sectors by enhancing the specialised knowledge and skills, increasing access to skills development opportunities and encouraging ongoing professional

Government’s Brexit Contingency Action Plan: Trader Customs Requirements, Education and Supports

The macroeconomic and trade implications for Ireland of a no deal Brexit would be pronounced, with differentiated impacts on certain sectors and companies. New checks and controls on British trade (including both exports and imports) will also impact trade. VAT and excise would arise on goods imports. In a no deal scenario, Irish-UK trade would be subject to tariffs and duties. The Government has put in place a number of measures to advise and support businesses to prepare for new customs requirements in a no deal scenario:

  • Revenue wrote to over 80,000 businesses who traded with the UK in 2017 in January 2019 outlining the steps required to trade with the UK post-Brexit;
  • Revenue together with DAFM and the HSE held a series of trader engagement seminars to inform traders of customs / official control requirements post-Brexit
  • From January – 19 June 2019, more than twice as many businesses (6,885) registered for EORI numbers than in all of 2018 (6,885 vs 2,976)
  • Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports to help businesses, of all shapes and sizes and across all sectors of the economy, to prepare for Brexit;
  • Last December, Enterprise Ireland launched online customs training to help businesses to prepare for their customs obligations. This free online course covers both import and export procedures;
  • The LEOs rolled out a Customs Programme across the country in early 2019 with over 500 participants to date;
  • Departments and agencies have reached out to businesses and representative bodies to assess levels of preparedness. In general, large companies are well prepared but SMEs need to take the necessary steps to prepare for Brexit;
  • Advice for traders was published on;
  • Specific engagement with the grocery retail and distribution sector to ensure continuity of supplies. Despite this level of activity, and increased levels of awareness amongst businesses, the Government remains concerned about the levels of business readiness for a no deal scenario. While recognising the cost and other pressures facing businesses, especially small businesses, the Government believes that effective operation of trade, including the landbridge, will only be possible if there is a significant step-up in preparedness activity. Government’s focus in the coming months will be on supporting and encouraging businesses to prepare.
  • Revenue is currently writing to all business who traded with the UK (approx. 92,000 businesses) based on 2018 trading data, emphasising some key steps to be taken to prepare for Brexit.

Read the full Government Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update here

For all information regarding Brexit, please see the Government website: