The importation of food products from outside the EU requires compliance with EU and UK hygiene, safety, labeling and food composition regulations.  The hazard analysis and critical control point after primary production stage (HACCP) system is used.   Non-EU suppliers must have equivalent systems in place. Food businesses after primary production must work in accordance with the HACCP principles and policies.   This is a method of analysing a business to identify risks and incidents in the process which can put food at risk.


Products of Animal Origin can only enter through a border inspection post approved for the relevant categories of product. They must be labeled and the HACCP system must be used throughout the food handling process.  The importation of products of animal origin will generally require a health / veterinary certificate and can only be undertaken from countries approved by the European Union. Their accompanying documentation will be checked and identity verified.

Products of animal origin include live animals, food stuffs and by products. It also includes goods which have come into contact with animals such as hay and straw.  They would include fresh meat, fish, processed pet food, milk and milk products, eggs, honey, bones, hide and skin.

In the case of movements within the European Union, it is necessary to meet the health certification and product marking requirements specific to the products, which have largely been standardised across the European Union.   There are general procedures and specific requirements for each type of POAO.

In the case of POAO from non-EU countries, goods or animals must be checked at the point of entry into the EU. The relevant paperwork must be held.   They must have been certified by a recognised authorities in the originating countries.   Once POAO have passed the checks they will be issued with a certificate which will allow them to be placed into free circulation within the European Union.   If they are rejected, they must either be exported or destroyed.

All POAO entered into the European Union must come from countries that have been pre-approved and meet EU product specific standards.  These must be certified by the bodies or government department agencies in the originating country.

Not every border inspection point is appropriate to every type of POAO.   It is necessary to pre-notify the border inspection post of incoming consignments.   Otherwise they may be automatically rejected.  Pre-notification can be done manually or on line.

At arrival on European Union, POAOs will be subject to documentary checks, identifications and may be subject to physical checks.   This will depend according to the perceived risks. A licence may be necessary for particular types of POAO.

Goods are examined by a veterinary inspector.  A common veterinary entrance document (CVED) is issued once they are released.   A copy of the CVED must accompany the goods to their first destination after clearance of customs and be retained there for twelve months.

Fruit, Vegetable & Plant Products

There are common EU rules on the import, sale and marketing of certain fruit and vegetables.  Goods imported into the EU must be graded, packaged and marked in accordance with the EU requirements.  A certificate of conformity under the “PEACH” system is required.

In addition to the general duties in the customs tariff, there may be seasonal duties which affect fruit and vegetables.   Certain non-EU countries have been certified by the EU as having an approved inspection service which means that their conformity certificates are accepted as proof of conformity with the EU standards.

A certificate of conformity is based on a conformity check from a physical inspection or by way of a conformity check on a risk analysis basis.  An importer must ensure that the procedures and standards pass the relevant import risk assessment system.

Many fruit and vegetable products require phytosanitary certification to enter the EU.    This includes major fruits other than bananas and grapes, cut flowers, vegetables, potatoes and leafy vegetables from a number of countries.  This certifies that the goods have been inspected in the country of origin and meet EU standards on quarantine, pests and disease generally.

Plants and plant products imported from non-EU countries under a phytosanitary certificate may be inspected by the plant health and seed inspectorate of DEFRA when they enter the UK. It is necessary to pre-notify the plant health and seed inspectorate of planned imports of plants or products requiring a phytosanitary certificate.  This can be done via the PEACH system.

Once a consignment enters under customs control, it is necessary to apply to HMRC for authority to remove the goods to a temporary warehouse.  They must be kept in a temporary warehouse until inspection.

Intra EU Movement

Generally food products can move freely within the European Union and will not be subject to checks at port.  However they must comply with current EU regulations.   It may be necessary to be able to provide an audit trail for food products.

EU movements of products of animal origin are generally straight forward.  Goods are normally classified as in free circulation once they have been imported or have been produced in the European Union.

Goods entering the UK must comply with requirements such as labelling, health marks are applied to red meat carcasses. Certain POAO are not covered by European Union wide rules and UK licences are required.

 Plant products can usually travel freely within the EU.  High risk plants can move across EU borders provided they have a passport.

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