Prepare your food and drink business for 1 January 2021

What you need to do to prepare your food and drink business for 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

Importing and exporting

To continue importing and exporting products between the UK and EU you must:

  1. Get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
  2. Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.
  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods to find out what they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU from 1 January 2021.

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.

Preparing for changes to existing trade agreements

The way you access existing favourable arrangements with non-EU countries may change.

Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.

Preparing for changes to import tariffs

The UK will implement a temporary tariff regime for up to 12 months.

Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports would be tariff-free, but in certain sectors, such as agriculture, tariffs would be maintained.

Check the temporary rates of customs duty on imports from 1 January 2021.

Animals, animal products and high risk feed

The way you import and notify the UK authorities of these imports will change.

You can read guidance on importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021 and importing and exporting live animals and animal products.

You’ll need to follow new processes to export the following from 1 January 2021:

Plants and plant products

Plants and plant products (for example, certain vegetables, seeds and fruit) currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls.

There is a new import process you must follow and new rules for exports.

Read the guidance on importing and exporting plants and plant products from 1 January 2021 and plant health controls.

Food and organic produce labelling

The rules for what you must show on food labels will change for some food and drink products.

The food labelling changes include:

  • country of origin labelling
  • food business operator (FBO) address labelling
  • use of the EU emblem
  • use of the EU health and identification marks
  • use of the EU organic logo
  • use of the geographical indication (GI) logo

Read the guidance on food labelling changes from 1 January 2021 and the EU’s guidance for goods on the EU market.

Organic food trading and labelling

The EU organic logo must not appear on UK organic goods. If the UK is able to achieve equivalence with the EU – where both still recognise each other’s standards – before 1 January 2021, then UK organic goods can enter the EU and can continue to use the logo.

If the UK does not achieve recognition from the EU, you will not be able to export organic food or feed to the EU from 1 January 2021.

Non-EU (third country) organic products can be checked at any point of entry and only need to enter at a Border Control Post (BCP), previously known as Border Inspection Posts (BIP), if they are classed as another commodity that requires checking. For example, an organic sausage will need to enter at a BCP that can check animal products.

Read the guidance on trading and labelling organic food labelling from 1 January 2021.

Marketing standards

Products that may be subject to changes from 1 January 2021 include:

Marketing standards inspections will continue, but will be managed to minimise delays at the border and disruption to trade flows.

If you export these products to the EU, you will need to meet the marketing standards requirements for third countries set out in the EU marketing standards regulations, until more information is available.

If you import these products to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from the EU the marketing standards requirements may change. They will be different for each product so check the specific guidance for the product you’re importing.

There will be no new marketing standards requirements for Northern Ireland (NI) goods moving into Great Britain.

There will also be no changes to marketing standards requirements for goods moving from NI to the EU, and from the EU to NI.

For more information about NI read guidance on Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

Non-harmonised food products

General rules on food are harmonised at EU level (for example, food labelling, food safety and hygiene requirements). In some cases there are also additional EU rules covering specific foods such as chocolate, jams and honey.

Non-harmonised food products are food products where there are no specific additional EU rules. Member states may be able to introduce their own national rules for these products. National rules on these products are subject to an EU notification procedure to make sure they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade.

Non-harmonised food products can circulate freely on the EU market under mutual recognition rules for which there is general guidance.

Mutual recognition is a principle of EU law. EU and EEA member states must allow goods to be marketed in their own territory, if they are legally marketed in another EU member state. For example, Spain has rules on table olives but accepts table olives from other member states that do not meet these rules, which currently includes the UK.

The mutual recognition principle will not apply to the UK from 1 January 2021. UK exporters of non-harmonised goods must check if the first EU member state in which they intend to market their goods has any national rules for those products, and follow those rules. For example, the UK would need to comply with the Spanish regulation on table olives.

There is guidance about Trading under the mutual recognition principle from 1 January 2021.

There is also a list of product contact points to provide information about national rules.

National standards for non-harmonised products may vary between different EU/EEA countries. However once your goods have been lawfully marketed in one EU member state you may then be able to make use of the mutual recognition principle.

To prepare, individuals and businesses will need to:

  • consider how they are affected if they trade in food products and export to the EU
  • meet the requirements of the first country in which they intend to place food products on the EU market

Find out how to place manufactured goods on the EU market from 1 January 2021.

Your employees

There are certain schemes and processes you need to be aware of if you employ people.

Find out more in Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens from 1 January 2021.

Chemical regulations

If your business uses chemicals, you should:

Data protection

Your business will need to make sure it follows data protection law.

If you operate across the EU or exchange personal data with organisations in the EEA, there may be changes that you need to make before 1 January 2021.

Read about using personal data in your business or organisation and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transfers from the EEA to the UK.

Published 14 October 2020
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