The UK government intends to leave the EU on 31 October. This paper explains import arrangements that will be required if a deal is not agreed before EU exit.
After the UK leaves the EU, you will still be able to import live animals and fish, animal products, food and feed whether from the EU or elsewhere. However, the process for notifying the UK authorities of these imports will change.
To import live animals, live fish, animal products or high-risk food and feed to Northern Ireland, you’ll need to:
- make sure you know the import notification process (see below) for importing from EU, non-EU and EFTA member states, and
- speak to your exporters in non-EU and EU countries to make sure that they’re aware of the changes
- comply with wider HMRC customs guidance on customs requirements for importing and consider whether you’ll need an import agent. Agents need to use correct commodity codes for all consignments.
- notify the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) at least 24 hours in advance for live animals and germplasm coming from the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein to the UK
- notify the UK border inspection post (BIP) that your consignment is arriving at least one working day before it’s due to arrive, for live animals coming from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein to the UK
- notify the UK BIP (for non-EU imports) at least one working day before it is due to arrive for germplasm, products of animal origin (POAO) and animal by-products (ABP) that are subject to vet checks
- import non-EU, high-risk food or feed of non-animal origin into the UK through a designated point of entry (DPE)
New notification process for imports
If you’re importing from non-EU countries to the UK, with the exception of Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein, you’ll no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
You’ll need to use a new UK system called the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS). You can register for IPAFFS now, and create notifications for consignments arriving after exit day.
Notification of movements of animals, fish and product of animal origin direct from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
The current movement licensing requirements will not change. Details can be found on the DAERA website:
For movements of live fish, (particularly where these have recently been imported into the UK from another country) notify DAERA Fish.Health@daera-ni.gov.uk at least 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive.
Imports from EU countries directly to Northern Ireland
A high level summary of requirements for imports to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland can be accessed using the link below:
You are not currently able to use IPAFFS if you’re planning to import live animals and animal products from the EU. Until IPAFFS is available you’ll need to notify DAERA by emailing scanned copies of the health certificates or commercial documents (DOCOM) as soon as they’re available and certainly before import. For:
- live animals and germplasm notify DAERA Trade branch at TradeAdminPost@daera-ni.gov.uk at least 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive
- live fish, notify DAERA Fish.Health@daera-ni.gov.uk at least 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive
A new UK health certificate will be required for live animals, live fish and germplasm moving from the EU to the UK however a current Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) if one was issued by the EU will be also be accepted for 6 months post-exit.
For further guidance contact DAERA’s Contact Trade Section (028) 77442 096 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct imports from outside the EU to the UK – destined Northern Ireland
If you import to Northern Ireland from outside the EU, excluding Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein, after EU exit changes will apply to requirements for notifications of the following:
- live animals and fish
- Products of Animal Origin (POAO) subject to veterinary checks
- high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
- Animal by-products (ABP) subject to veterinary checks
You will need to use IPAFFS to notify these imports instead of TRACES. You will need to import these consignments through a UK BIP. BIP contact details are available through this link:
Northern Ireland will have 2 UK BIPs - in Belfast Harbour and Belfast International Airport. Specific requirements vary according to the nature of the import, for:
- germplasm, POAOs and ABPs can enter through Belfast Port BIP or Belfast International Airport BIP. If the import enters through another UK BIP, en-route to NI, notify DAERA by emailing copies of the health certificates and the Common Veterinary Entry Document issued at the BIP to email@example.com immediately after clearance and before the consignment arrives in Northern Ireland.
- live fish must enter through the UK BIP at either Manchester or London Heathrow airports. Northern Ireland does not have a BIP for fish. In addition to any other requirements notify DAERA if live fish are to be imported en-route to Northern Ireland – email copies of the health certificates and the Common Veterinary Entry Document issued at the BIP to Fish.Health@daera-ni.gov.uk at least 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive.
- live animals must enter through a UK BIP. Northern Ireland does not have a BIP for live animals. If live animals enter the UK through a BIP, en-route to NI, notify DAERA by emailing copies of the health certificates and the Common Veterinary Entry Document issued at the BIP to firstname.lastname@example.org immediately after clearance and before the consignment arrives in Northern Ireland.
Health certificates and other documentation currently used for imports into the EU will be accepted in NI for 6 months after the UK leaves the EU. After that, you’ll need to use a new UK health certificate.
Imports from outside the EU which transit through EU member states en-route to Northern Ireland
The process for transit consignments to Northern Ireland from outside the EU via the EU depends on what you’re importing:
- POAO originating outside the EU, after exit day, must only enter the UK through a UK BIP and must not enter Northern Ireland across the land border. To import these goods follow the process for direct imports from outside the EU, including notification on IPAFFS.
Northern Ireland will have 2 UK BIPs - in Belfast Harbour and Belfast International Airport.
- Live animals, germplasm and ABPs en-route to Northern Ireland may enter the UK by any route (including entry across the land border) if both of the following requirements apply:
- they have had full veterinary checks in a recognised EU BIP
- copies of the Common Veterinary Entry Document and health certificates issued at the EU BIP are emailed to DAERA on email@example.com immediately after clearance and before the consignment arrives in Northern Ireland. You cannot use IPAFFS at the moment for notification of transit consignments that do not enter the UK through a UK BIP.
If full veterinary checks have not been carried out these consignments must enter the UK through a UK BIP in the same way as a direct import from outside the EU. If your consignment is entering the UK through a BIP you must use IPAFFS to notify it.
Imports of high risk food and feed
Imports of high risk food and feed of non-animal origin (FNAO) from outside the EU must enter Northern Ireland through a DPE (Designated Point of Entry). Further guidance on this can be obtained from the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland.
Importing animal by-products not for human consumption (ABP) from EU countries to Northern Ireland
If you are importing category 3 ABPs from the EU, you can continue normal trade activities from the date of EU exit. There will be no additional controls or checks.
From exit day it is likely that you will not be permitted to import category 1 and 2 ABPs into the UK from the EU.
Documents for transporters
Documents issued by the UK will only be valid in the UK and not in EU countries. Read the Department for Transport’s guidance on preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit for more information.
If you’re a UK transporter who transports live animals or fish in the EU you’ll need to appoint a representative within an EU country. You’ll need to apply to the relevant government department to get a:
- transporter authorisation
- certificate of competence
- vehicle approval certificate
- journey log (where necessary)
How the UK government is working with interested parties
The government will continue to work with businesses to help them prepare for these changes. We have published guidance for users of IPAFFS.
Other import requirements
You will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU. You should:
- get an Economic Operator Register and Identification (EORI) number to be able to trade
- check for potential EU trade tariff changes
- find out the commodity code for your goods
- determine the value of your goods
- check if your goods are prohibited or restricted
- choose the correct customs procedure code (CPC) for your goods
- declare your import to customs - find out how in the guidance on importing from outside the EU
Find out more about HMRC customs requirements for imports to the UK.
Summary of acronyms
- UK – United Kingdom
- EU – European Union
- DAERA - Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
- DEFRA - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- POAO - products of animal origin
- ABP - animal by-products
- BIP - border inspection post
- ITAHC - Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate
- DOCOM - commercial document
- HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
- TRACES - Trade Control and Expert System
- IPAFFS - Import of products, animals, food and feed system
- TARP - Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations
- DPE - Designated Point of Entry
- EORI - Economic Operator Register and Identification
- CPC - Customs Procedure Code
- FNAO - Food not of animal origin