What the Windsor Framework means for exports to Northern Ireland

Published on: 08 May 2023


The rules on exporting to Northern Ireland have changed, what does this mean for recreational craft?

The UK Government has long recognised the need to take account of Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances, and to protect all dimensions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. That means avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and supporting North-South cooperation – including respecting the longstanding single epidemiological area on the island of Ireland and arrangements that existed long before Brexit.

This new approach, set out in the Windsor Framework, restores the balance needed to uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions. It puts in place a new legal and constitutional framework, changing the text of the treaty and scrapping a range of EU rules. The agreement: 

  • Restores the smooth flow of trade within the UK internal market – by removing unnecessary red tape and checks for goods moving and remaining within the UK market;
  • Safeguards Northern Ireland’s place in the Union – disapplying swathes of EU law and restoring UK rules in their place to fix everyday problems in areas from food safety and medicines supply to alcohol duty rules; 
  • Addresses the democratic deficit – enabling, through a new Stormont Brake, votes in Stormont to lead to a UK veto on new rules, embedded in new text at the heart of the treaty, to provide democratic oversight and cross-community safeguards in Northern Ireland.

So what does this mean for Exports to NI from GB?

The UK Government has released a new set of guidelines on the regulations as they apply to craft being supplied in or into Northern Ireland.

The new guidelines can be found here: Recreational Craft Regulations 2017: Northern Ireland – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Since 16 July 2021, the EU Regulation on Market Surveillance 2019/1020 (referred to as “MSC” in this document) has replaced the market surveillance provisions in the Regulation on Accreditation and Market Surveillance 765/2008. Under the terms of the Windsor Framework, EU rules on goods listed in Annex 2 apply in Northern Ireland, including MSC, which will be directly applicable in NI and applies in addition to the 2017 Regulations.

Article 4 of MSC requires that an economic operator responsible for compliance must be based in the EU (or NI) in order to lawfully place certain products on the market, including recreational craft. This responsible economic operator must fulfil certain compliance tasks.

Read guidance on placing certain products on the Northern Ireland market


This guidance is relevant to manufacturers, importers and distributors of recreational craft, personal watercraft and certain engines and other specified components. It will also be of interest to consumers and notified bodies.

Products placed on the Great Britain (“GB”) market (GB comprises England, Scotland and Wales) must follow the separate rules for the GB market. If you are placing products on the market in GB, you should read the relevant separate guidance.

Read guidance on the regulations in Great Britain


If a product is offered for sale or supply to NI (or EU) consumers, it is considered to be placed on the EEA market. Article 4 requires that a responsible economic operator must be based in NI (or the EU) to carry out certain compliance tasks in respect of that product. This can be the manufacturer, an importer, a manufacturer’s authorised representative, or a fulfilment service. They must carry out the compliance tasks in Article 4 and their contact details must be indicated on the equipment or on its packaging, the parcel or an accompanying document.

Read guidance on placing certain products on the Northern Ireland market

For full details on the obligations of manufacturers, importers, distributors or authorised representatives, read the full guidance here: Recreational Craft Regulations 2017: Northern Ireland – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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