‘Wine’ in this guide means alcoholic drinks produced exclusively from the fermentation of fresh grapes, including sparkling and fortified wines (traded on commodity code 2204).

There will be changes affecting wine imports if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Information on importing wine from the EU will be published on this page.

Importing wine into the UK from a non-EU (third) country

There will be a 9-month transition period to a new system for importing wine from a non-EU (third) country.

During this time, you’ll be able to bring wine from a third country into the UK using either:

  • an existing EU VI-1
  • a new UK VI-1

A VI-1 is a document issued in a third country that fully describes wines imported into the European Community.

Government bodies in third countries are responsible for issuing VI-1s for wine to be exported to the UK and to the EU. A list of those government bodies will be published when available.

Importers should start using the new UK VI-1 as soon as third country government bodies are able to issue them. After the 9-month transition period, the EU VI-1 may not be valid.

Exemptions to the VI-1

There are some situations where you can import wines to the UK, or export from the UK to the EU, without a VI-1. This will continue from 1 January 2021.

You won’t need a VI-1 for wines that are:

  • in labelled containers up to 10 litres with a single use stopper, where the total quantity of the shipment (which can be in separate consignments) is less than 100 litres
  • your personal property if you’re moving to the UK
  • in the personal luggage of travellers, up to a maximum of 30 litres
  • sent in consignments from one person to another, up to a maximum of 30 litres per consignment
  • for trade fairs if the wine is in labelled containers of up to 2 litres with a single use stopper
  • imported for the purpose of scientific and technical experiments up to a maximum of 100 litres
  • held in stores on board ships and airplanes operating in international transport
  • originating from and bottled in the UK, exported and then returned to the UK to be sold
  • originating from and bottled in the EU, exported and then returned to the EU to be sold
  • traded for diplomatic purposes in accordance with the Vienna Convention or the New York Convention

You’ll still be able to use the simplified VI-1 for importing wines from Australia and Chile. Wines from the United States (US) can continue to use a simplified VI-1 and US wineries can continue to self-certify their VI-1s.

Exporting wine from the UK to the EU

The UK will become a third country from 1 January 2021. Consignments of wine exported from the UK to the EU will be subject to EU third country requirements for wine which include having an EU VI-1.

There are some situations where you do not need a VI-1 to export wine from the UK to the EU. Check exemptions to the VI-1.

Defra will be the UK competent authority for issuing EU VI-1s.

Information about how you can apply for an EU VI-1 will be published here soon.

Defra will be required to certify that the wine complies with EU regulations and has been produced using winemaking practices which are either or both of the following:

  • recommended and published by The International Organisation of Vine and Wine
  • authorised by the EU

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are responsible for the inspection and registration of wine exporters. You’ll need to have registered with the FSA’s Wine Standards Team or with FSS before you apply to Defra for a VI-1.

Register with the Food Standards Agency or Food Standards Scotland

Businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are not currently registered with the FSA, but intending to export wine to the EU from 1 January 2021 should send an email to wineexportsregistration@food.gov.uk to register. Write ‘VI-1 Exporter registration request’ in the subject line.

Businesses in Scotland that are not currently registered with the FSS, but intend to export wine to the EU from 1 January 2021, should email colin.clark@fss.scot to register. Write ‘VI-1 Exporter registration request’ in the subject line.

The FSA and FSS usually reply to requests within 20 working days, but it may take longer during busy periods. To make sure you can continue to export your wine you should apply to register as soon as possible.

For more information about registering with the FSA email the FSA wineexportsregistration@food.gov.uk. For more guidance about the FSS visit the FSS website.

WSB number

After registering with the FSA or FSS you’ll receive a WSB number. You will need to provide your WSB number to Defra when you apply for a VI-1.

If you’ve already registered with the FSA or FSS you should have received a WSB number.

For more information about WSB numbers email Defra at wine.exports@defra.gov.uk.

Published 4 September 2019
Last updated 20 September 2019 
Share this article