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Northern Ireland: What dentists need to know about Brexit

Blog Author Tristen Kelso

Blog Date 17/12/2020

Tristen Kelso, National Director of BDA Northern Ireland, tells us what dentists in Northern Ireland need to know ahead of the 31 December deadline.


We are fast approaching the end of the post-Brexit transition period. At the time of writing, negotiations between UK and EU authorities are continuing on a future trade deal. However, it is now clear, that Brexit is likely to affect dentists in Northern Ireland more than any other part of the UK.


Here are some of the most urgent issues I think you need to be aware of before the transition period ends on 31 December.


Some practices need to make urgent changes

As we approach the end of year deadline, practices in Northern Ireland need to prepare. If your practice does any low-level trade with Great Britain, such as sending impressions to labs in Scotland, we’re advising you to prepare for the post-transition period by registering for an EORI number and registering with the Trader Support Service. This will help avoid any possible disruption from 1 January, when the new trading arrangements come into force.


“There are specific issues facing practices who regularly see patients from the Republic of Ireland.”

If your practice receives human tissues, cells or acellular bone products from suppliers in GB meanwhile, you will require an import licence from the Human Tissues Authority (HTA) from 1 January. For more information see the Northern Ireland section of the Human Tissue Authority website or email them directly for advice: enquiries@hta.gov.uk.


There are specific issues facing practices who regularly see patients from the Republic of Ireland. For instance, we don’t know if existing arrangements that enable patients to claim back tax, via a Med 2 form, will continue after 1 January. The data protection steps which practices need to take to continue seeing patients from the Republic of Ireland, also need to be clarified. We are seeking urgent clarification on these and other points on your behalf.


Supplies and staffing

A significant amount of our medicines and medical devices come from Europe. Ensuring continuity of supply and introducing contingency measures to avoid significant disruption has been a major focus for government officials at both UK and Northern Ireland level. The BDIA have assured us that they do not foresee major issues in this area in the post-transition period.


“From 1 January 2021, suppliers will face duplication of paperwork if selling into Northern Ireland.”

However, we know that from 1 January 2021, suppliers will face duplication of paperwork if selling into Northern Ireland, as they will have to comply with both EU Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) and the UK’s new regulation standard. We don’t yet know if this will have an impact. However, we’re concerned that this could come to affect the cost and availability of supplies in Northern Ireland going forward.


Regarding staffing, the picture is clearer. Any dentist or staff member who are EU/EEA nationals, must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. They need to do this in order to remain in the UK without the need for future visa status, unless they are Irish citizens. Irish citizens will continue to be entitled to live, work and access other benefits in the UK due to the Common Travel Area. Meanwhile, EU/EEA nationals who cross the border into Northern Ireland to work, will need a Frontier Worker permit to do so after 1 January 2021. Here too, Irish citizens are exempt.


Keeping up-to-date

Like Brexit itself, this continues to be an evolving picture. New arrangements will apply in many areas, including: import and export of dental equipment and materials; recognition of qualifications; and research and development. So please do keep a close eye on the BDA Brexit webpage, including the Northern Ireland section, which we update regularly as information emerges.


You may also find the Department of Health Northern Ireland EU Exit page useful. The presentation recently given at an EU Transition stakeholder event hosted by the Department of Health last week also contains relevant information.


If you have any specific questions which haven’t been answered with the information on our website, then please send these to us via northernirelandoffice@bda.org and we will endeavour to seek answers from the Department.


Tristen Kelso


Tristen Kelso

Northern Ireland Director, British Dental Association