Import

The UK Government has indicated that it intends to treat imports from the EU on the same basis as imports from the rest of the world, subject to an initial phasing in of new requirements over the first six months for all except certain designated ‘high risk’ products, as set out below:

  • From January 2021, only basic record keeping will be required, with formal customs declarations and any tariff payments able to be deferred for six months
  • From April 2021, pre-notification and health certificates will be required for dairy products
  • From July 2021, full standard procedures will apply, including checks on all food products at designated border control posts (BCPs).

A summary of the main requirements and an initial check list can be found at Prepare to Import into Great Britain. Imports into Northern Ireland from the EU will remain unchanged, though imports into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world will be subject to the main UK procedures.

It is not yet clear if tariffs will be applied on trade with the EU from 1 January 2021, but in any case trade with the rest of the world will be subject to the UK’s move  from the EU common external tariff to a global MFN tariff (the UK Global Tariff) and you will need to be familiar with your product tariff codes.

Importing

Actions to take in preparation for the future:

  • Register for a GB Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Get an UK EORI number
  • Decide if you want to make customs declarations yourself, or appoint a Customs Intermediary. If you decide not to use an intermediary, you will need to make declarations yourself. To do this you will need to get access to HMRC systems and to purchase software. You could be entitled to financial help to help your business complete customs declarations.
  • Ensure your Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) outlining the delivery and shipping responsibilities are correct and up to date.
  • Apply for a Duty Deferment Account. Traders who import goods regularly may benefit from having a duty deferment account (DDA). This enables customs charges including customs duty, excise duty, and import VAT to be paid once a month through Direct Debit instead of being paid on individual consignments.
  • Prepare to pay or account for VAT on imported goods. VAT registered traders will be able to account for import VAT on their VAT return by using postponed VAT accounting from 1 January 2021. Unless they are eligible to defer their supplementary declarations, they will not be compelled to use postponed VAT accounting.
  • Ensure drivers have correct International Driving Permits. Hauliers need to ensure their drivers have the correct documentation, for example an international driving permit (IDP) or an additional licence may be required to drive in some countries. More information will be provided on GOV.UK as the requirements are clarified.

Additional actions for Customs and VAT processes:

  • Check suitability for facilitations Section 1.1.5 and Section 4.1.5. of the Border Operation Model document that will make processes smoother.
  • Find the right commodity code for your goods.
  • Businesses importing goods into GB should ensure they are familiar with using the ‘Trade with the UK’ tool which provides detailed information on tariffs, taxes and rules. The tariffs shown are those currently being applied until 1 January 2021. Use the UK Global Tariff tool to check the tariffs that will apply to goods imported from 1 January 2021.
  • Check whether any duty relief schemes apply– these let you pay less (or no) duty on imports.

The UK has left the EU. There will be new processes that importers must follow. These processes will be introduced in 3 stages.

From 1 January 2021, the UK will operate a full, external border with the EU. This means that there will be controls on the movement of goods between England, Scotland, and Wales, and the EU.

You will need to use the UK’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for imports of:

  • live animals
  • POAO subject to veterinary checks
  • high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
  • germplasm (also called germinal products)
  • ABPs not intended for human consumption subject to veterinary checks

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals, ABPs, and germinal products into England, Scotland, and Wales from the EU from 1 January 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

ABPs are in either high-risk or low-risk categories. Find out what products are in the different ABP categories.

You must use IPAFFS to pre-notify the arrival of high-risk ABPs.

Most ABPs will continue to be accompanied by commercial documentation when you import them from the EU.

New import requirements for low-risk ABPs or POAO will not apply until 1 July 2021.

New import requirements for POAO will not apply until 1 April 2021.

Live animals and germinal products

From 1 January 2021, live animals, including equines and germinal products imported from the EU, will be subject to new import controls.

Goods must be:

  • accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHC)
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals and germinal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin into England, Scotland and Wales from the EU from 1 April 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

From 1 April 2021, POAO imports must be:

  • accompanied by an EHC so they can have remote documentary checks
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS

Import requirements for high-risk ABPs introduced on 1 January 2021 will continue to apply.

New import requirements for low-risk ABPs will not apply until 1 July 2021.

Live animals and germinal products

Import controls on live animals, including equines and germinal products, will remain unchanged from those introduced on 1 January 2021 until 1 July 2021.

High-risk food and feed not of animal origin

From 1 April 2021, anyone importing high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO) must use IPAFFS to submit import pre-notifications.

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals and germinal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin into England, Scotland, and Wales from the EU from 1 July 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

From 1 July 2021, POAO and ABPs must enter England, Scotland, or Wales through a BCP.

Goods must be:

  • accompanied by an EHC so they can have remote documentary checks
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS
  • entered through a BCP so they’re available for a documentary, identity, and physical checks

Live animals and germinal products

From 1 July 2021, new import requirements will apply to live animals, including equines and germinal products from the EU.

Goods must be:

  • accompanied by an EHC so they can have documentary checks
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS
  • entered through a BCP so they’re available for a documentary, identity, and physical checks

High-risk food and feed not of animal origin

From 1 July 2021, anyone importing high-risk food and feed not of animal origin must:

  • submit import pre-notifications at least one working day in advance of the goods’ arrival
  • enter them through a BCP so they can have documentary checks, and if necessary identity and physical checks

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

Check the port you use has the correct authorisation and identify the EU Border Control Posts (BCPs) you may need to use when exporting certain products especially those of animal origin.

Outbound livestock and animal products from the UK into EU 27 will have to pass through a designated BCP at the point of entry. You can’t just turn up at a BCP; every consignment has to be booked in advance. For cross-Channel shipments, there are BCPs at Dunquerque, le Havre and Caen.

Ports such as Rotterdam and Calais have made significant preparations for situations that may arise if the transition period closes without a future agreement. Importantly, Calais is launching a ‘smart border’ scheme that will prevent delays using a combination of pre-clearance of goods, number plate recognition and away-from-the-border checks.

UK guidance to French customs procedures in the event of the transition period closing without a future trade deal can be found here.

From new Border Operating Model page 61 of the PDF

Location of checks POAO and certain ABP will need to enter GB via an established point of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP) in order for the goods to be available for inspection. A list of current BCPs and the commodities they accept is available here. The UK Government is currently exploring options to build more BCPs and to provide targeted support to ports to do so. Therefore, this list will likely change to include further sites. These changes will be made public in order for traders to prepare accordingly.

UK Government has issued guidance to businesses importing plants and plant products (for example, fruit, vegetables, seeds and young plants) from the EU and third countries.

From 1 January 2021 high priority plants and plant products will be subject to import checks and documents. These include a phytosanitary certificate, pre-notification of arrival submitted by the importer, documentary and identity checks, and a physical inspection (these can take place at the point of destination until 1 July 2021). There will be charges for these services. A full list of high priority plants will be published later this year, but will include all plants for planting, ware potatoes, some seed and timber, and used agricultural or forestry machinery.

From 1 April 2021 controls will be extended to all regulated plants and plant products i.e. those plants and plant products currently managed under the EU plant passport regime. Importers must use the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) to notify the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) or Forestry Commission that you are importing regulated plants/plant products. All regulated plants/plant products require a phytosanitary certificate; a full list of regulated plants and plant products will be published later this year, but will include some fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, seed and grains, potatoes etc.

From 1 July checks will be extended and physical inspections will take place at Border Control Points.

Further information on plant passports can be found here.

Yes, in the event of no deal, processes at the border will change and new duties will be applied.

You should consider commercial arrangements (Incoterms). Individual commercial contracts and arrangements may alter the default legal responsibilities and requirements. Contractual obligations for international commercial transactions are outlined in the Incoterms rules, which are administered by the International Chamber of Commerce. These are an important consideration for traders when moving goods internationally, and should be considered and understood alongside the information in this document.

There is a further issue concerning the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which the UK government plan to incorporate into domestic law from 1 January 2021.  There is more information and recommendations in the GDPR question below; however, it is important that your contracts contain a section on GDPR. 

For non-EEA customers it is believed that there will be little change.  For more details please check here

In the vast majority of cases this is best done by putting in place a contract between you and the sender on EU approved terms known as standard contractual clauses (SCC). If the UK leaves the EU without a deal you need to put the contract in place before that date.  Here is a tool to help you find which SCC’s you need to use. Keep data flowing from the EEA to the UK – interactive tool

More information is available from the ICO website Data protection and no-deal Brexit for small businesses and organisations

Rules of Origin laws determine the “economic nationality” of traded goods and their components. 

Trade agreements can include preferential tariffs for goods of a certain origin. In days where businesses used locally produced raw materials, establishing and proving the origin of a product was fairly straightforward. This has become more complex as both raw materials and processed parts and ingredients are traded globally.  In its trade agreements, The European Union routinely has some of the most exacting Rules of Origin for agrifood goods.

Further information is available here

If the transition period closes without a future trade deal – unless it remains part of a Customs Union which includes agrifood products – exports from the UK is likely to be subject to tariffs (i.e. trading on ‘WTO terms’).  

If there is a trade agreement, reduced tariffs will apply only to goods which satisfy the agreed Rules of Origin.  Taking the EU-Canada agreement (CETA) as a model, that could for example mean that goods made with flour milled in the UK would have to pay a full tariff if any USA wheat had been used in making the flour.  Similar restrictions would apply in relation to goods containing sugar, dairy products, cereals, meat etc.  

A fuller explanation of this, and suggestions of how the problem might be addressed in UK-EU negotiations, are set out in a report commissioned by UK food sector organisations, which can be found here.

Yes, provided you supply the goods into Ireland. If your customer takes ownership of the goods in the UK and then moves them on to Ireland, dealing with customs would be their responsibility.

The Institute of Export and International Trade maintains a list of customs agents (also known as brokers) here.

From 1 January 2021, if no future UK-EU trade deal is reached, whoever is legally responsible for importing your goods into the EU will need to complete an EU customs declaration. It will be their choice whether to complete the administration themselves or to employ an agent to do this on their behalf. 

On 21 August 2020, the UK Government launched ‘EHC Online’, a digital service which allows exporters and Certifiers to apply for and certify Export Health Certificates (EHCs) remotely.

This new service means that instead of emailing your completed PDF application to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), exporters will be able to apply online for the most frequently used EHCs.

It is anticipated that the new service will ensure that exporters and Certifiers can easily obtain a new EHC when additional certification of exports to the European Union (EU) will be required at the end of the transition period.

To make an application via EHC Online:

  1. Exporters should follow a two-step registration process for the EHC Online service; the first requires a Government Gateway account, and the second a Defra-specific account – both of which can be set up online.
  2. Your Certifying Officer must also be registered on the EHC Online system, so check that they have also signed up. If you have not yet chosen a Certifying Officer, there are various ways you can find one:

You should check that your Certifying Officer is able to inspect your consignment and sign your EHC in the days before you want to export. Exporters of perishable fishery products should contact their Certifying Officer to discuss specific needs.

  • Log into EHC Online via the UK Government’s Form Finder tool or via your Defra account.
  • Select ‘Start a new application’ on the Exporter Dashboard or clone a previous application.
  • Complete the required steps and submit your application.
  • Once APHA has approved your EHC application, they will let your Certifying Officer know when your EHC is ready to download and print:
  • 7 working days before your export date
  • within one working day of receiving it, if you plan to export in the next 7 working days

You will be able to see when APHA has sent your certificate to your Certifying Officer on the system. The certifying officer will then inspect your export to check it meets the health requirements of the destination country. If your consignment is compliant, they will then complete, sign and give the EHC to you. They will also send a copy to APHA.

The EHC must travel with your animal products to the export destination.

Local Authorities may charge a fee to the exporter for the required certification.

More information on accessing EHC Online for exporters can be found here.

Further advice on getting an EHC can be found in this government guidance

 

POAO

UK Government has issued guidance to businesses on importing animals and products of animal origin from the EU and third countries

From new Border Operating Model page 61 of the PDF

EU POAO and ABP will be required to be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHC) or other official documentation.

An EHC is an official document that confirms the export meets the health requirements of the destination country; this will need to be secured by the exporter from the EU country of origin’s competent authority. These certificates will be substantially the same as the existing EU certificates for RoW imports, but will instead relate to imports into GB.

 

Where EU health certificates for animal products exist, they will be transcribed into domestic versions. Traders intending to export to GB should use the existing certification as guidance on what will be required. Where there are no standardised requirements and no model Export Health Certificate currently exists, the GB importer will need to contact the Centre for International Trade (CITC).

 

From new Border Operating Model page 61 of the PDF

The level of physical and identity checks on EU goods from July 2021 will be proportionate and based on assessments of biosecurity and public health risk. POAO, germinal products and ABP imported from the EU will be subject to a minimum level of 1% checks. Some commodities, such as shellfish and certain ABPs, will be subject to higher minimum check levels. During 2021, controls on EU and Rest of the World goods will be reviewed in light of existing and new trade agreements and any changes in risk status. Any changes to controls on EU goods following this review will be introduced after January 2022.

At the moment it is illegal under EU law for MBM to be exported from the EU to 3rd countries for incineration.

The EU is considering amending their Regulations to allow the export of MBM outside the EU for combustion but this has not been approved yet.

If approved then the UK sites currently incinerating EU derived MBM would need to be approved / permitted under the ABP Regs and Environmental Permitting Regs for combustion of MBM.

The UK has not yet confirmed its position on whether MBM is a waste or can be considered as a fuel. See also the Border Protocol Delivery Group Border Operating Model

ABPs would need to come from an NI registered or approved ABP premises and the consignment must be physically dispatched from those premises.

Consignments and commercial documents would be required as per current traceability systems.

Category 3 raw ABPs from NI slaughterhouses can be transported to GB directly from slaughterhouse in line with existing listing requirements for slaughterhouses..

Products of animal origin (POAO) – must have UK/NI health or ID marks where required in accordance with legislation in NI/GB.

If animals raised in and transported from ROI to NI for slaughter then the animal by-products arising are deemed to be of NI origin and can be processed in NI or GB rendering facilities.

We are still awaiting confirmation of rules on movement of ABPs from ROI slaughterhouses north to NI and GB. See also the Border Protocol Delivery Group Border Operating Model

 

We are still awaiting confirmation of rules on movement of ABPs from NI slaughterhouses south from NI to ROI. See also the Border Protocol Delivery Group Border Operating Model

 

The UK government maintains a list of those certified to provide that service here.

Please note that although the UK is negotiating FTAs with a number of countries, there is no guarantee that such details will include meat, dairy or potatoes. It is important to disaggregate FTAs from Phytosanitary checks.

You need to follow special rules to export animal products that will be used as food, for example:

  • frozen or fresh meat and fish
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • gelatine, lard or blood

What you need to do depends on if you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU. You will usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to be able to export your product.

There also needs to be a bilateral arrangement on a product by product basis. For example, we have approval from China to ship certain pork products from specified factories, however this does not currently include trotters nor other meats.  At the same time, we do not have a Free Trade Agreement either directly or through the EU. We have been told that all countries that we currently trade with under EU certification will be transposed to UK certification.

This link will bring you to a UK government look up site to see the countries and the specified products for which we have agreed EHCs.  

Trade with the rest of the world

Leaving the EU will affect the UK’s trade with the rest of the world in a variety of ways.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal beyond the Withdrawal Agreement, it will introduce a new tariff schedule. (See question on details of tariff schedules).

These tariffs would apply to imports from all countries, except for those where a trade deal is in place.

The UK currently participates in around 40 trade agreements negotiated by the EU with more than 70 countries, representing c11% of the UK’s total trade. All of these will legally cease to apply at 23:00 on 31 December 2020.  

However, the UK is seeking to reproduce the effects of existing EU agreements for when they no longer apply. This will ensure continuity of trading arrangements for UK businesses. A list of agreements expected to take effect from 1 January 2021 can be found here. The agreements may contain minor changes to the original agreement, particularly in the area of rules of origin and may contain minor changes to duty rates.

Some agreements however will not be in place before the end of the transition period. In this case, trade with these countries would take place on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms using ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) tariffs. This may result in changes to duty rates.

Information on preferential and MFN rates can be accessed at the European Commission’s Market Access database.

You must continue to import live animals, germplasm, POAOs, and ABP that are subject to vet checks into the UK through a UK border control post (BCP). Find out which BCP you should use.

Importers should check if the CN code for their product is listed in Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/2007 to find out if the POAO or ABP must be vet checked at a BCP.

You must use IPAFFS to notify the UK BCP at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.

For imports of certain POAOs and ABP that do not require veterinary checks at a BCP, there is no requirement to pre-notify a port of the arrival of the consignment.

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

Prior to the end of the transition period, the UK Trade Tariff Tool can help you to find the correct commodity code for your imports or exports. The tool however should be used with caution as identifying the wrong code risks paying the wrong tariff, costly delays at the border or even goods being blocked from entering the EU. 

If you are unsure which commodity code best fits your product, HMRC are best placed to offer the necessary advice. Contact details are provided in this government guidance.

Once the correct commodity code has been identified, the UK Trade Tariff Tool lists the VAT and tariff applicable to that commodity code. During the transition period, the UK Trade Tariff Tool will show the tariffs that currently apply for imports into the EU (including the UK).

More information on how to use the UK Trade Tariff Tool can be found here.

Following the close of the transition period the UK Trade Tariff Tool will show the tariffs applicable for imports into the UK and not imports into the EU as is currently shown.

Should the UK and EU not agree a future trading relationship beyond the Withdrawal Agreement, UK-EU trade will be conducted on non-preferential WTO terms. This means that full, ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN), tariffs and non-preferential rules of origin would apply to consignments of UK seafood at the EU destination country.

Should the UK and EU agree a future trading relationship beyond the Withdrawal Agreement; tariffs will instead be set at the preferential rates agreed.

To access commodity code and tariff information for your exports to the EU after 1 January 2021, UK businesses are advised to use the EU’s TARIC tool.

If you are a member of a trade association, they may also be able to offer guidance.

 

You will no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) from 1 January 2021.

You will need to use the UK’s new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for imports of:

  • live animals
  • POAO subject to veterinary checks
  • high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
  • germplasm (also called germinal products)
  • ABPs not intended for human consumption subject to veterinary checks

Health certificates and other documentation are being reviewed and further guidance will follow.

Further information: Importing animals, animal products, and high-risk

The categories refer to the risk posed from foot and mouth disease and the various heat treatments necessary to eradicate the risk of transmission from any trade in those products.

A full list of which country falls into which category can be found in Annex 1 (page 6) of Regulation 605/2010.

Post January 2021, it is expected that UK will be listed as a category A country, therefore able to export raw milk but this is yet to be confirmed.

Dairy EHCs can be found on Form Finder on Gov.uk. where specimen health certificates may be viewed along with the heat treatments necessary.