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Export Food, Drink, and Agriculture Products

An export health certificate (EHC) allows you to export or transport processed food and drink (including products that contain POAO), as well as fruit, vegetables, and plants used for food. This help guide is for businesses in Great Britain that export food, drink, and agricultural products to (or through) Northern Ireland, the European Union, or countries outside the EU.

Getting an EHC to Export Food and Drinks

Products of animal origin (POAO) consumed by humans, include:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Gelatine
  • Honey
  • Meat

Note: The importer may have extra information about shipping food, drink, and agricultural products out of the United Kingdom. If not, another section has suggestions for researching export markets and how to search for new overseas customers.

Other Types of Export Certifications

You may need to get another kind of export certification when moving them to certain countries. The food safety team may have further advice if the manufacturing of the product took place in Great Britain.

The ban on supplying luxury goods to anyone in Syria or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whether directly or indirectly, means you must not move caviar (including caviar substitutes), truffles (or foodstuff that contains truffles) to those countries.

Moving Processed Food and Drink Products

As a rule, if processed food and drink contains POAO, exporters need to get an export health certificate (EHC) to ship or move it to Northern Ireland, the European Union, or to any non-EU countries.

If you are exporting processed food and drink to countries outside of the EU, you may need to get a certificate of free sale. Contact the food authority in the relevant country for further information.

Exporting soft drinks with added sugar means you would most likely need to register for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Following that, you would be able to claim a credit for the levy paid on any exported drinks.

Important: The main section contains more advice and information about exporting goods and doing business from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland.

Exporting Food or Drinks that Contain POAO

Having a valid export health certificate (EHC) is a legal requirement when:

  • Exporting food or drink products derived from animals (POAO) to the European Union from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales).
  • Transporting (e.g. moving) POAO to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
  • Transiting products of animal origin through countries in the European Union to Northern Ireland (NI).

Traders do not get charged for inspections and certifications when moving agrifood goods from Great Britain (i.e. England, Wales, and Scotland) to Northern Ireland. Instead, the certifier can invoice the government to reclaim the costs through the Movement Assistance Scheme.

Other regulations for exporting or moving food, drink, and agricultural products, include:

  • Complying with new Brexit rules that apply to travel and doing business with Europe.
  • Ensuring the EU or NI-based import agent notifies the BCP or NI point of entry that the consignment will be arriving (they will confirm how much notice is required).
  • Following HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidance for trading and moving goods in and out of Northern Ireland.
  • Having the goods checked at (in the first country entered):
    • An EU border control post (BCP).
    • Northern Ireland point of entry.

Note: There rules differ when exporting (or moving) animal feed or pet food, or live fish for human consumption from the United Kingdom. Defra has more information about exporting composite food products to the European Union.

EU Listing of Approved Establishments

Establishments in Great Britain that export ABP products to the EU (directly) or supply other establishments in the United Kingdom that export to the EU, will need to be listed with the European Union.

Using a Logistics Hub to Move Products

As a rule, you can speed up the process at the borders by using a logistics hub. Thus, when shipping products of animal origin, most logistics hubs will be able to:

  • Consolidate a batch of products into a single consignment (e.g. with others from different suppliers).
  • Collect the products and move them to the required destination in Northern Ireland or the European Union.
  • Process export health certificates (EHCs) for the goods (including getting access to a certifying officer).
  • Provide a customs brokerage service.

Food and drink products need to accompany valid supporting documentation so the certifying officer can verify it at the logistics hub.

Thus, exporting meat means you may need to have evidence from the slaughterhouse (or cutting plant) showing the geographical origin of the animal, for example. You can get more information by sending an email to Defra [[email protected]].

EU Rules for Prohibited and Restricted Goods

The European Union place certain prohibitions and restriction on the importation of some goods, including:

  • Chilled meat preparations (e.g. uncooked sausages)
  • Chilled minced meat (red meat)
  • Composite products that contain dairy products made from unpasteurised milk (a typical examples would be ready meals topped with unpasteurised cheese)
  • Minced meat (poultry)
  • Poultry, ratite (large, flightless birds) and game bird mechanically separated meat
  • Raw milk coming from TB herds
  • Ungraded eggs

The EU also prohibits the re-exportation of certain animal and animal products, such as:

  • Fresh meat that originally came from the EU or from non-EU countries.
  • Milk that did not come from the United Kingdom.
  • Products that use POAO from non-EU countries not listed by the EU for import into the European Union.

Moving Products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

Until the 30th of September 2021, the movement of some prohibited and restricted meat products can continue to Northern Ireland when transported from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales), including:

  • Chilled (or frozen) minced meat of:
    • Poultry
    • Ratites (e.g. ostrich)
    • Wild game birds
  • Chilled minced meat from animals other than poultry.
  • Chilled meat preparations.
  • Unprocessed meat produced from meat that was initially imported into Great Britain from the European Union.

Some of the conditions that exist include making sure meat products:

  • Are packed for end consumers, and labelled as being for sale only in the United Kingdom.
  • Enter Northern Ireland through a designated point of entry as directed by the point of entry authority.
  • Get sold exclusively to end consumers in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland (i.e. not sold to other operators in the food chain).

Note: The main section explains how to move products from Great Britain and Northern Ireland to other countries outside of the UK and the EU.

UK Rules for Exporting Food, Drink, and Agricultural Products