Advice line: 1890 33 66 77

  • You are here:
  • Home /
  • FAQs /
  • Import Export

Import Export

Importing Foodstuffs

Q. How do I go about importing foodstuffs into Ireland ? 

All food imported into the EU, whether of animal or non-animal origin, must be fit for human consumption and comply with all relevant Irish and EU legislation such as hygiene, labelling, contaminants, use of additives etc. Consideration must also be given to other importation issues such as quotas, and customs’ duties, which lie outside the remit of the FSAI. In these cases, the Exports/Imports Division of Customs and Excise, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and/or the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) should be contacted.

DAFM: +353 (0) 1 607 2000; www.agriculture.gov.ie
SFPA: +353(0) 1 678 3636; www.sfpa.ie 

Customs and Excise: +353 (0) 1 877 6220 or 6222; www.revenue.ie 

Importing foods of animal origin for human consumption

The enforcement of food legislation governing the importation of fish and fishery products is now carried out by the SFPA under service contract to the FSAI. Similarly, legislation dealing with imports of all other animal products into Ireland is enforced by DAFM under service contract. Importers of animal products must be registered with the relevant agency and provide notice in advance of their intended imports. Imports of animal products from outside the EU must be accompanied by a Health Certificate, which is issued by the competent authority in the exporting country.

Food imports of animal origin from a Third (non-EU) Country are only permitted if the country is “recognised”. Foodstuffs of animal origin may only be sourced from premises in recognised countries that have been approved and must carry an EU approved health mark/identification mark. Inspections of these establishments are carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the EU to ensure that only establishments that meet standards equivalent to those operating within the EU are approved. Countries and establishments permitted to import into the EU, and the products concerned are listed on the Commissions Website.

Imports from outside the EU may only be brought into the European Community through a Border Inspection Post (BIP) that has been approved for importation from Third Countries. At an EU BIP, all consignments from Third Countries undergo a documentary and identity check. Physical checks are carried out at frequencies laid down in EU law. Sampling for laboratory analysis may also be carried out. Foods failing to comply with the control checks may be detained for further examination, returned to the exporting country or destroyed. Once the shipment has met the required conditions it is released for free circulation within the EU, however, copies of the Health Certificate and the BIP clearance document must accompany the consignment to its destination.

In summary, imports of products of animal origin:

  • Must be presented at a Border Inspection Post (Dublin Port or Shannon Airport) for veterinary checks
  • Must come from an EU listed Third Country, for which no safeguard measures are in place
  • Must come from an EU approved establishment (listed for the relevant product)
  • Must be accompanied by appropriate Health Certificate(s)
  • The animal product must be appropriately wrapped and labelled with a health mark
  • The importer must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) or the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) as appropriate for the animal product being imported
  • The importer must give 24 hours advance notification to DAFM or the SFPA.

Importing foods of non-animal origin

Foods of non-animal origin do not require a Health Certificate, but like foods of animal origin, they must comply with all relevant EU legislation such as that covering labelling, additives, flavouring, pesticides, and contaminants. Importers must also be aware of specialised decisions that may exist for the importation of a particular food commodity; for example, Commission Decision 2006/504/EC on special conditions governing certain foodstuffs imported from third countries due to contamination risks of these products by aflatoxins or European Communities (Emergency Measures regarding Chilli and Chilli Products) Regulations, 2004 (S.I. No. 181 of 2004).

Designated Points of Entry for Certain Foods  

Certain foods of non-animal origin imported into the European Union require increased levels of official controls due to known or emerging risks associated with that food. Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 requires that a list of these foods must be drawn up. The list may specify the third country of origin of the food or it may apply to all imports from third countries.

Each Member State must designate points of entry for each product listed. Products listed can only be imported into the European Union through the Designated Points of Entry. See: Designated Points of Entry into the Republic of Ireland. Each consignment of products must be accompanied by a Common Entry Document.

Importing food supplements

Imports of food supplements must comply with Commission Directive 2002/46/EC, as transposed into Irish law by European Communities (Food Supplements) Regulations, 2007 (S.I. No. 506 of 2007). In Ireland, vitamins, minerals and other substances sold as food supplements are regulated as food unless the product is considered a medicine (by virtue of its composition, concentration, labelling and presentation or when medicinal claims are made in relation to the product). Food supplements with vitamins at or above prescription levels are considered medicinal products and under the remit of the Irish Medicines Board.

IMB: +353 (0) 1 676 4971; www.imb.ie 

See more Information on legislation surrounding food supplements 

Also see FAQ on Food Supplements 

Any person placing a food supplement on the market in Ireland must notify the FSAI and the duty to notify falls on the manufacturer if the product is manufactured in Ireland and on the importer if the product is imported into Ireland. Notification of food supplements is a statutory requirement under the Commission Directive 2002/46/EC as transposed by S.I. No. 506 of 2007. Access notification form 

A separate form is required for each product and in the case of reformulation (i.e. ingredients/ingredient levels) or changes in claims. Notification forms may be returned to Public Health Nutrition, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Abbey Court, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1.

Importing Foodstuffs for Personal Use

Q. What restrictions are there on imports of foodstuffs of animal origin for personal use into Ireland? 

Regulation 206/2009/EC as amended covers imports of products of animal origin for personal consumption into Ireland (and the rest of the EU). These conditions cover food products imported via personal baggage when travelling, or by post (i.e. ordered by mail, telephone or via the internet).

Strict procedures for the introduction of certain animal products into the EU are necessary due to the risk of introducing diseases into the EU. These procedures do not apply to the movements of animal products between the 28  Member  States  of  the  EU,  or  for  animal  products  coming  from  Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San  Marino, and Switzerland. So, products of animal origin may be imported into Ireland for personal consumption from these countries. As a guideline, quantities should not exceed 10 kg.

EU Member States include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Personal imports into Ireland from a Third Country

1.  Small  quantities  of  meat  and  milk  and  their  products  (other  than  powdered  infant  milk,  infant  food,  and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons) 

You  may  only  bring  in  or  send  to  the  EU  personal  consignments  of  meat  and  milk  and  their  products  (other  than powdered  infant  milk,  infant  food,  and  special  foods  or  special  pet  feed  required  for  medical  reasons)  provided  that they come from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland, and their weight does not exceed 10 kg per person.

2.  Powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods required for medical reasons 

You  may  only  bring  in  or  send  to  the  EU  personal  consignments  of  powdered  infant  milk,  infant  food,  and  special foods required for medical reasons provided that:

• they come  from the  Faeroe  Islands,  Greenland,  or  Iceland,  and  their combined  quantity  does  not  exceed the weight limit of 10 kg per person, and that:
• the product does not require refrigeration before consumption,
• it is a packaged proprietary brand product, and
• the packaging is unbroken unless in current use
• they come from other countries (other than the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland), and their combined quantity does not exceed the weight limit of 2 kg per person, and that:
• the product does not require refrigeration before consumption,
• it is a packaged proprietary brand product, and
• the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.

3.  Small quantities of fishery products for personal human consumption 

You  may only bring in  or send  to the EU personal  consignments of fishery products (including fresh, dried,  cooked, cured or smoked fish, and certain shellfish, such as prawns, lobsters, dead mussels and dead oysters) provided that:
• fresh fish are eviscerated,
• the  weight  of  the  fishery  products  does  not  exceed,  per  person,  20  kg  or  the  weight  of  one  fish,  whichever weight is the highest.

These restrictions do not apply to fishery products coming from the Faeroe Islands or Iceland.

4.  Small quantities of other animal products for personal human consumption 

You may only bring in or send to the EU other animal products, such as honey, live oysters, live mussels and snails for example, provided that:
• they come from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland, and that their combined weight does not exceed 10 kg per person,
• they come from other countries (other than the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland) and their combined weight does not exceed 2 kg per person.

Please note that you may bring in small quantities of animal products from several of the above four categories provided that they comply with the rules explained in each of the relevant paragraphs.

5.  Larger quantities of animal products 

You  may  only  bring  in  or  send  to  the  EU  larger  quantities  of  animal  products  if  they  meet  the  requirements  for commercial consignments, which include:
• certification requirements, as laid down in the appropriate official EC veterinary certificate,
• the  presentation  of  the  goods,  with  the  correct  documentation,  to  an  authorised  EU  border  inspection  post  for veterinary control, on arrival in the EU.

6.  Exempted animal products 

The following products are exempted from the rules explained previously:
• bread, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and confectionery (including sweets) not mixed or filled with meat product,
• food supplements packaged for the final consumer,
• meat extracts and meat concentrates,
• olives stuffed with fish,
• pasta and noodles not mixed or filled with meat product,
• soup stocks and flavourings packaged for the final consumer,
• any other food product not containing any fresh or processed meat or dairy and with less than 50 % of processed egg or fishery products.

7.  Animal products from protected species 

For certain protected species there may be additional restrictions in place. For example for caviar of sturgeon species, the weight limit is a maximum of 125 g per person.

All animal products not conforming to these rules must be surrendered on arrival in the EU for official disposal.  Failure to declare such items may result in a fine or criminal prosecution. 

Commercial imports

Personal imports of products of animal origin into Ireland, which are not covered by the exemptions above, must be presented as a commercial import. The rules concerning commercial imports of products of animal origin are as follows:

  • Must be presented at a Border Inspection Post (Dublin Port or Shannon Airport) for veterinary checks
  • Must come from an EU listed third country, for which no safeguard measures are in place
  • Must come from an EU approved establishment (listed for the relevant product)
    http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biosafety/establishments/third_country/index_en.htm 
  • Must be accompanied by appropriate Health Certificate(s)
  • The animal product must be appropriately wrapped and labelled with a health mark
  • The importer must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) or the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) as appropriate for the animal product being imported
  • The importer must give 24 hours advance notification to DAFM or the SFPA.

For further queries on imports of products of animal origin, please contact
Animal Products Import Section,
Food Safety Liaison Division,
Agriculture House,
Kildare St,
Dublin 2.
Tel: 00-353-1-6072896
Fax 00-353-1-6072513

Exporting Foodstuffs

Q. How do I go about exporting foods? 

Exporters must contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) when exporting foodstuffs such as meat, poultry meat, eggs and egg products, milk and milk products, honey. The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) should be contacted when exporting fish and fishery products.

DAFM: +353 (0) 1 607 2000; www.agriculture.gov.ie
SFPA: +353(0) 1 678 3636; www.sfpa.ie 

For foods of non-animal origin being exported from Ireland to countries outside the EU, importing countries may require an Export Certificate (also known as a Certificate of Health, Certificate of Manufacture & Free Sale, Certificate of Export, Certificate of Fitness for Human Consumption or Sanitary Certificate), depending on the foodstuff being imported, and the local controls in the importing country. The competent authority in the importing country should be contacted for further information.

From 1st May 2011, the Environmental Health Service of the Health Service Executive (HSE) are responsible for issuing Export Certificates for foods of non-animal origin. Information on applying for an Export Certificate and the application form are available on the HSE website.

The FSAI issue Export Certificates for food contact materials. Download certificate application form and checklist For more information please contact our advice-line on 1890 336677

Q. What controls are in place for exporting foodstuffs to the United States? 

If exporting food to the United States, exporters must be aware of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the ‘Bioterrorism Act’ or the ‘Act’). From December 2003, the Bioterrorism Act requires all domestic (US) and foreign food facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the US to register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no fee for registration, which may be carried out online (see below).

The Bioterrorism Act also requires that advance notice is issued to the FDA for any shipment of human or animal food imported or offered for import. From 2004, food businesses importing to the US will also be required to maintain traceability records similar to those required under EU legislation. Manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, receivers, holders and importers of food will be required to keep records identifying the source from which they received the food, and the recipient to whom the food was sent.

Read more information on the Bioterrorism Act 

Q. I am travelling abroad on holidays soon, is it safe to bring packaged baby formula/jar baby food with me? 

Baby/infant formula and baby food may be taken abroad on holidays. It is advisable, however, to bring commercial brands of unopened products. There are also other considerations depending on your destination. If travelling to another EU country, you can bring a reasonable amount of any food, as long as it is for personal use. However, if travelling to a country outside the EU, it is only permitted to carry reasonable quantities of foods that are not of animal origin.

Note: For large amounts of product, it may be necessary to satisfy customs officers that the food is for personal use.

Last reviewed: 20/8/2014

Latest Surveys/Press Releases/Reports 

Online Information Centre

HACCP Legislation