In this article we’re going to look at what you need to export product to the EU from 1st January 2021. We’ve previously covered Changes you need to make to your labelling by 1st Jan 2021.
Please note, this article only looks at exporting products from the UK to the EU due to Brexit. It doesn’t look at exporting products from other countries and to countries outside the EU.
The purpose of this article is to specifically understand the technical requirements of exporting product following the transition period. Although we touch on what tariffs are, this is not the main purpose of this article. As techie’s we are not specialists in the field of goods movement involving customs declarations, so please ask your logisitics, supply chain managers or agents to look into this for you.
Quick references and useful links
As techie’s food exportation is a subject that we don’t normally have much involvement in. We understand it can be a little overwhelming and difficult to get your head around, so let’s go over a couple of phrases that are used frequently. Understanding these will help you with this subject.
UK trade sanctions
A ‘sanction’ is basically a rule, which approves what you can do and also, controls what you can’t do.
Sanctions are in place for all sorts of reasons, but for Brexit the ones that we’re concerned with are the trade sanctions. These set out the rules of how we are allowed to import into the UK and export out of the UK.
From 1st January 2021 the UK will be working to a new set of UK trade sanctions. What we have detailed in this article are some of the requirements of those UK trade sanctions, specifically focused on food.
When product is brought into the UK or exported out of the UK it has to go through customs control procedures. This means it must be declared and given ‘clearance’ to pass through border controls. This basically means it must have the necessary paperwork to get approved to pass through customs.
For us, the approval comes in the form of an export declaration. This declaration is basically a form that you need to fill in electronically, which is normally completed via the National Export System. You can complete these declarations yourself using the National Export System, or you can appoint an agent to do it for you.
A tariff is a duty (tax) that is imposed on products that are imported into the UK or exported from the UK. They differ, depending on what product is being imported or exported.
If something is classed as free trade it means that there is no tariff for importing or exporting that product. So you can sell the product under ‘free sale’.
There are three main components to exporting after 1st Jan 2021, these are:
- An EORI number
- Commodity (tariff) code
- EU border control
Let’s go through each one.
EORI stands for ‘Economic Operators Registration and Identification’ number.
In order to export product from the UK you’ll need an EORI number. You may already have one of these, but from 1st Jan it must begin with ‘GB’. If it doesn’t then you’ll need a apply for a new one.
As an EORI number is issued by the HMRC, you’ll need to check with your finance team if they have one setup. If they already have an EORI number, then check it begins with ‘GB’ too.
If you are going to be exporting product from Northern Ireland to the EU then you’ll also need an EORI number that beings with ‘XI’. To get an EORI number that begins with ‘XI’ you need to already have an EORI number that begins with ‘GB’. Which means, you’ll need to apply for ‘GB’ EORI number and then for a ‘XI’ number.
If you’re going to only be exporting product from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, then you won’t need an EORI number.
If you export product via a post or other delivery service, then you need to check with the delivery company if you need an EORI number.
Commodity (tariff) code
To complete the customs declaration, you need to know the commodity codes that apply to the products that you are exporting. These are also known as tariff codes because they are used to classify and apply rates of duty for that particular product. They also help to identify the documentation that would need to accompany them.
To find out what commodity code(s) you must use for your product, you can use the trade tariff commodity codes tool, just enter the name of your product in the search box or look it up using the sections (for example prepared foodstuffs). If you’re using a customs or forwarding agent to make your customs declarations, they should also be able to help you.
Not all products have a specified commodity code. If your product doesn’t, then you have to use a ‘meursing code’, which you can find using the look up meursing code tool. You don’t need to do testing to complete this, just use your nutritional composition information.
EU border control
When product reaches the EU border there are generally three methods to pass border control:
- Export health certificate
To export human food products into the EU, you will need a health certificate if your product is:
Health certificate for POAO and fish products
To find the certificate you need, you can use the find an export health certificate tool. Which EHC (export health certificate) you need, will depend on which country you are exporting the product to. When you find the one that fits, just select it and there will be instructions provided on what you need to do.
For fish products you also need to be an approved UK food establishment, who are listed by the EU. To become listed, follow the guidance from the FSA.
To export plant products to the EU you need to check if you need a ‘PC’ which is a ‘phytosanitary certificate’ – which is basically a health certificate specifically for plants and it means that:
- The product has been officially inspected
- It complies with UK law
- Is free from pest infestations and disease (you may need to test it to prove this)
Whether you need a PC will depend on where you are sending the product. You need to check with that particular country about that particular type of plant product. To do that, use the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations website, pick the country where you are exporting to and there will be contact details for you to contact the right person to ask if you need a PC.
If you do need a PC then you need to organise to get your product inspected, using the eDomero portal or filling out one of the Animal and Plant Health Agency forms (please note these are not links to pages, but will automatically download in your browser).
Useful links for products of non-animal origin:
Composite food products
What is a composite food product?
To be classed as a composite food product, your product must contain POAO and product of animal origin. The POAO must not be raw, if it is – it’s a product of animal origin.
The EU have also published a table which is helpful, as it shows what type of product is now classed as needing an EHC following the change that came into force on 21st April 2021. You’ll see that there’s a ‘new’ term – private attestation. DEFRA have published a model private attestation, which provides guidance on what to do.
We've tagged this article as: Brexit