Government Guidance

For full information on Importing

Government checklist on Importing from the EU

For full information on Exporting

Government checklist for Exporting to the EU

Updated 05.05.21

Composite products

A composite product contains both plant and processed products of animal origin (POAO) eg. milk and eggs. A new EU Regulation concerning composite products came into force on April 21, 2021. Under this new regulation:

  • All shelf-stable composite products not containing meat will need to be accompanied by a new document, called a “private attestation” signed by the importer in the EU (and NI)
  • Certain shelf-stable composite products not containing meat will be required to meet official con- trols at the EU (and NI) border

This brings into scope a large number of products requiring official controls at EU Border Control Points (BCP), which are currently exempt. This includes breakfast cereals, cereal-based snacks and bakery mixes. Even products exempted from official controls at the border still need to complete attestations which requires detailed information. This includes the approval number of the establishments manufacturing the processed POAO included in the product, and official controls will still be performed away from the border. This includes products such as confectionery, chocolate, biscuits and cakes.

These Regulations will apply in Northern Ireland. Traders moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will need to ensure that they meet the new requirements. However, the Government has con- firmed that authorised traders, which includes wholesalers on the list, will not need to complete EHCs resulting from new rules for the export of composite products when moving goods into Northern Ireland.

Defra reminder on new animal health regulation Animal health and composite product FAQs Composite products decision tree

Import checks

The government will postpone checks on imports from the European Union in order to give businesses more time to prepare for the myriad paperwork that awaits. The first checks will begin in October, seven months after they were originally planned to be introduced, and then be phased in over time until March 2022, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has announced.

  • Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date.
  • Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022.
  • Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1 January 2022.
  • Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1 January 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.
  • Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1 January 2022.
  • Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1 January 2022.
  • From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

Updated 07.03.21

Rules of Origin

Defra has updated its Rules of Origin guidance including sector specific summary guidance documents, covering relevant articles across all food categories.
Guidance presentation

Webinar and FAQ document


Updated 22.02.21

Rules of Origin

Defra has updated its Rules of Origin guidance, including Sector specific summary guidance documents, covering relevant articles across all food categories.

Defra also produced a recorded webinar

UK businesses can trade tariff-free with the EU if their products meet agreed Rules of Origin. UK traders need to check if their products comply and how to prove they originate from the UK. Guiadnace on rules of origin requirements can be found here:

Export Health Certificates

Some businesses are still experiencing significant challenges in moving goods from Great Britain to the island of Ireland and to mainland Europe. Many food products will need to be pre-notified and accompanied by Export Health Certificates. However, there are concerns about a lack of experienced vets to sign-off EHCs. There are also reports of inconsistencies in interpretation of EHCs requirements by member states. The Government is engaging with member states and the European Commission to seek agreement on a common interpretation of EHCs.

Import/export guidance

Guidance on getting prepared to export from the UK can be found here:

Guidance on getting prepared to import from the EU can be found here:



Goods placed on the market

updated 29.12.20

Guidance for exporting or moving goods from GB to the EU or NI after the end of the Transition Period that have been placed on the market before the end of the Transition Period

Rules of Origin

UK and EU businesses will need to comply with the Rules of Origin from January 1 2021 as part of the customs declaration when importing and exporting to and from the UK and EU.

Export Health Certificates

From 1 January 2021 exports of animal products to the EU, including fish, will require an Export Health Certificate (EHC) which can be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) or local authority Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO).

  • Traders need to check now that their OVs and FCCOs have registered with Export Health Certificate Online (EHCO) in order to certify EHCs.
  • Traders need to prepare in advance with their OVs and FCCOs, so that all parties are familiar with the EHC forms and guidance.
  • Traders should work with their OVs to make sure they are familiar with the products which will require certification.

Defra has been running tests on the implementation of Export Health Certificates. The key findings are outlined in this webinar:

Check a VAT number

Updated 18.12.20

The new Check a UK VAT Number service has launched in response to GB VAT numbers not being able to be checked via the EU’s online VAT number checking service after the end of the Transition period.


Heat treated pallets

Updated 18.12.20

At the end of the transition period, all Wooden Packaging Material moving from the UK to the EU and from the EU to UK must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. As there will be no immediate change to the biosecurity threat of wood packaging material originating from the EU at the end of the Transition Period, GB will maintain its current risk-based checking regime for EU wood packaging material. The UK Timber Pallet and Packaging Confederation (TIMCON) is strongly encouraging the European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers and EU national associations to engage and support their countries’ wood packaging material industries to increase their own stocks of compliant pallets.


Rules of Origin declarations

Updated 18.12.20

In terms of any potential EU Free Trade Agreement, both sides are proposing methods of proving origin that allow traders to self-certify that goods are originating. The UK and EU have different proposals, so the final detail will be confirmed if/when the deal is finalised, but for example, both sides have included provisions that allow exporters to make “statements on origin” to certify their goods as originating. A statement on origin is a declaration placed on a commercial document and provided to the importer. Unlike an EUR1, it does not require certification from HMRC or Chambers of Commerce.

European Union Prohibited and Restricted goods

From 1 January 2021 there will be new processes that UK exporters and importers trading with the EU must comply with. The Defra Secretary George Eustice has shared a letter outlining in the annex information on the food and drink commodities prohibited and restricted from being imported or exported between GB and the EU from January 1.


Updated 22.10.20

Updated guidance on the end of the transition period that is specific to food and drink:

  • Trading and labelling organic food from 1 January 2021: Updated guidance includes information on importing organics from the EU to Great Britain from 1 January 2021.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable marketing standards from 1 January 2021: Updated information about importing and exporting fresh fruit and vegetables between the UK and EU and non-EU countries.
  • Importing and exporting wine from 1 January 2021: Updated information on labelling wine imported from EU and non-EU countries and updated details on importing and exporting wine between UK and EU and non-EU countries.
  • Export groups of products of animal origin to the EU from 1 January 2021: New guidance for exporters and suppliers exporting multiple products of animal origin from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to, or through, the EU.
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