The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020 with a transition period which ended on 31 December 2020. Following the UK decision to leave the EU, the PSI engaged with government departments, regulatory counterparts in the UK, and others in relation to changes that will impact on the PSI’s functions, and the wider health and pharmacy environment. In line with the whole-of-Government response to Brexit, the PSI has considered a broad array of challenges and assessed the risks that generally and particularly relate to our work and the wider health and pharmacy sector.

Recognition of qualifications

The PSI is responsible as the competent authority in Ireland for the recognition of pharmacist qualifications. To recognise a qualification, the PSI must be able to verify that pharmacists have attained the necessary standard of academic and practical training, amongst other requirements. Pharmacists must obtain recognition of a qualification appropriate for practice before being able to apply to register. The PSI operates three routes of recognition/registration to the pharmacist register: the national route, EU/EEA route and third country qualification recognition route.

The legal basis underpinning the recognition of qualifications between Ireland and the UK has changed following Brexit. From 1 January 2021 all UK and Northern Ireland (NI) applicants will be required to apply for qualification recognition and registration via the Third Country route. These applicants who hold a qualification gained in the UK or NI, which would but for the fact that these are no longer members of the European Union, be subject to Automatic Recognition under the Professional Qualifications Directive, and who can satisfy the PSI of this, may be able to proceed to recognition in a one step process under Rule 18 (1). The new Third Country route application form for applicants from UK and Northern Ireland, who wish to be considered under Rule 18 (1) are available on this website.

Already registered with a UK qualification in Ireland?
Pharmacists with a UK qualification already recognised and registered in Ireland by the PSI will have no change in registration status. Pharmacists already registered will remain on the register. 

National position on medicines

The Department of Health, together with the HPRA, the HSE, and many others has been working to protect the availability of medicines for Irish patients post-Brexit, acknowledging the extent of medicines moved through the UK to get to Ireland.

It has been clearly stated by the Department of Health that hospitals, pharmacists or patients should not order extra quantities of medicines, or for doctors to issue multiple prescriptions for the same medication. The impact of doing so will have a knock-on effect on managing existing stock levels and hamper the supply of medicines for other patients. All involved must balance the interests of their patients and wider society where challenges may arise. Pharmacists and other health professionals have an important role to play in providing accurate information to people to avoid disruption and aid understanding of Ireland’s medicines supply arrangements.

The Department of Health has outlined that Ireland is unlikely to face an immediate impact on medicine supplies in the period immediately following Brexit. This is because there are already additional stocks of medicines routinely built into the Irish medicine supply chain. Shortages exist already in the market, without any relation to Brexit, and the existing Medicine Shortages Framework in place by the HPRA will continue to be used to manage shortages and seek to reduce the impact on patients and healthcare professionals.

Access to cross-border health services and validity of UK prescriptions are all part of Government contingency planning with the latest information available on

Other considerations

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK* contains an interim provision that allows the free flow of data between the EEA and the UK to continue after the end of 2020. For a period of up to six months, transfers of personal data from the EEA to the UK will not be considered as a transfer to a third country. This means that Irish data exporters, such as the PSI, can continue to transfer personal data to UK based data importers without the necessity of implementing additional safeguards as set out in Chapter V of the GDPR. The EU Commission plans to adopt an Adequacy decision within this timeframe which going forward, will allow for personal data to be transferred from the EEA to the UK without any further safeguard being necessary – in other words, as if the transfer was carried out within the EEA.

The PSI is maintaining close engagement with all relevant parties in relation to these and other matters and will provide information as it arises to PSI registrants. We aim to keep this webpage updated with information as it is made available.

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*Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part 28 12 20