Movement Assistance Scheme launched to support agri-food firms moving goods from GB to NI

Wed 16 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

The government has today (16 December) launched a new scheme to support businesses moving live animals and other animal or plant products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS) will be run by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and will cover “reasonable” costs incurred by agri-food traders who are facing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks for the first time as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Farming, fisheries and food minister Victoria Prentis said the scheme maintains “unfettered access for traders and minimises the impact of these new requirements.”

NI Protocol changes

The launch of MAS follows the publication of a Command Paper last week which set out how details of the Northern Ireland Protocol will be implemented.

Under the Protocol, the island of Ireland will be treated as a single epidemiological unit from 1 January 2021, leading to new sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for agri-food products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Certification costs reimbursed

Included in these requirements is the need for traders to obtain Export Health Certificates (EHC) which need to be authorised by government-approved veterinarians.

Under the scheme, the government will reimburse some of the costs for getting this certification. Traders can claim up to £150 for each EHC or up to £500 for each equine EHC.


Traders will also be able to get advice from a MAS helpline about the new requirements for moving goods requiring EHCs and SPS checks.

The helpline will be open 9am to 5pm on normal workdays, excluding bank holidays.

More information about reimbursements for EHC costs and accessing the MAS helpline can be found here.

Grace period for supermarkets

The government’s Command Paper also confirmed that there will be a grace period for traders needing Export Health Certificates (EHC), but this is only for supermarkets and their suppliers.

Small traders affected by the new SPS rules, who sell to a convenience store or small shop, will have to complete EHCs from 1 January 2021, when the ongoing transition period finishes.

Trader Support Service

Traders moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will also be required to complete Safety and Security and import declarations from the start of next year.

To support businesses with these new requirements, the government has also set up the Trader Support Service – a free online service that raises declarations on behalf of traders.