Food exports refer to the movement of food products from an EU country to countries outside the EU (often referred to as Third Countries). Each third country can set their own requirements for food imported into their country and such trade is often subject to restrictions or may require additional certification.
The EU has a Market Access Database that contains extensive information about market access conditions in non-EU countries.
Information about exporting food to the UK
Exporting to the UK
As the UK is no longer in the EU Customs Union or Single Market, it now sets the import requirements for products moving into Great Britain. This means procedures apply for businesses moving food products to, from or through the UK, excluding Northern Ireland. The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, which forms part of the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, means that no new procedures will apply to food goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
UK Import Controls 2023: The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM)
On 29 August 2023, the UK Government published its finalised Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) which sets out new rules for importing food goods to the UK, including from Ireland. These new controls will have implications for many Irish exports to the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland.
The BTOM outlines the customs, controls and documentary requirements including Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) requirements, which will apply to businesses exporting products to the UK from the EU.
There are 3 main dates that should be noted:
- 31 January 2024
- Export health certificates and phytosanitary certificates will be required for medium risk animal products, plants and plant products imported to Great Britain from the EU, including from Ireland.
- Prenotification of imports of SPS goods from Ireland on the UK’s SPS import system (IPAFFS) will be required.
Note: UK import declarations will need to be pre-lodged and food products moved from the island of Ireland will become subject to checks and controls.
- 30 April 2024
- Documentary checks and physical and identity checks at the border will be introduced for medium risk animal products, plant and plant products imported to Great Britain from the EU, excluding those goods being imported from Ireland.
- Existing inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from point of destination in GB to UK Border Control Posts.
- 31 October 2024
- Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force.
- Documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from Ireland will be introduced at ports on the west coast of Great Britain (the date for the commencement of physical checks for non-qualifying goods moving from the island of Ireland will be confirmed in autumn 2023).
TOM Risk Categories
There are 3 TOM risk categories for food imports defined by the UK Government, depending on country of origin and product definition. The categories include:
All risk levels will still require pre-notification on the UKs Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) to notify authorities before the food goods arrive in Great Britain. It is the responsibility of all Irish food businesses that wish to export to Great Britain to ensure that the pre-notifications are carried out.
For pre-notification of consignments on the UK IPAFFs, it is a requirement for all food businesses to be registered on TRACES (The Trade Control and Expert System).
From 31 January the consignment(s):
- Must be pre-notified on the UKs IPAFFS
- Do not need an export health certificate.
- Require a commercial document from the supplier.
From 31 January 2024 the consignment(s) must:
- be pre-notified on the UKs IPAFFS
- have an export health certificate issued by the competent authority in the country where the goods originate, or an official importer declaration (where applicable).
From 31 January 2024 these products may be subject to physical import checks.
From 31 January 2024 the consignment(s) must:
- be pre-notified on the UK IPAFFS
- have a health certificate issued by the competent authority in the country where the goods originate.
Most high-risk consignments are already subject to physical import checks. These will continue after 31 January 2024.
In April 2023, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published revised UK Export Health Certificates, (EHCs) for the EU, including Irish products. These new UK certificates must be used from 31 January 2024 for export of EU agri-food goods to Great Britain. Information on the export health certificates including model certificates is available here.
For up-to-date information on moving goods using the landbridge, please click here.
FAQ on exporting to Great Britain
What is BTOM?
The Border Target Operating Model (TOM) sets out new rules for importing goods to the UK, including from Ireland.
The BTOM outlines the customs, controls and documentary requirements including Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) requirements, which will apply to businesses exporting products to the UK from the EU. The TOM also outlines the risk categories relate to food products.
What should businesses do to prepare for the changes outlined in the BTOM?
If you own or operate a business that exports food to Great Britain, you should be ready yourself for the upcoming changes. You should look at our 10 tips for preparing to export to Great Britain.
How do I get an Export Health Certificate?
For information on how to apply for an Export Health Certificate, please contact your Competent Authority (see details below).
I want to export animals and animal products to Great Britain – what do I do?
From 31 January 2024, to import live animals or animal products from the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states into Great Britain you’ll need to:
- find the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) risk category for the commodity you’re importing
- follow the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules for that import risk category
The BTOM categorises live animals, germinal products, products of animal origin (POAO) and animal by-products (ABPs) as high risk, medium risk or low risk. Each category has different requirements.
You can visit this UK government webpage to find out which risk category applies to your product.
I want to export plants and plant products to Great Britain – what do I do?
The FSAI does not oversee plants and plant products. To get more information about the rules for exporting these products, please see the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s website.
Controls currently in place for exporting food to the UK
Currently, certain limited categories of plant and animal products, which the UK considers to be high risk (i.e., live animals, germinal products, products of animal origin under safeguard measures, etc.,) require:
- pre-notification by the UK importer to the UK authorities, using its Imports of Products, Animal, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS);
- and an Export Certificate which must accompany the consignment being exported to the UK.
For further information on the controls in place for exporting to the UK, please check the UK government website on gov.uk.
There is further information and guidance available the Irish Government website, gov.ie.
If you have any queries in relation to export certification, please contact BrexitCall@agriculture.gov.ie
10 Tips for preparing to export to Great Britain
10 Tips for preparing to export to Great Britain
1. Make sure you are fully registered to trade – you may need to register on TRACES and register for an EORI number. For more information, see here.
2. Familiarise yourself with Irish and UK Customs and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements for exporting goods to Great Britain.
3. Engage with everyone in your supply chain, including transport and logistics providers, to examine what adjustments will be needed to comply with the new UK import requirements. This might include things such as ferry boarding formalities, pre-notification of SPS products, export health certificates etc.
4. Check the Border Target Operating Model risk-level of your commodity.
5. Identify the correct health certificate(s) or your product(s).
6. Contact your relevant competent authority (e.g., Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Service Executive (HSE) or the Local Authority Veterinary Service). Interact now with your inspector who will be certifying your products.
7. Ensure you have full traceability information and all the supporting documentation available and have systems in place to organise these documents to align with your certifying officers’ needs.
8. Identify the right, experienced staff to interact with the IT systems, such as TRACES and IPAFFS. Decide who in your business/supply chain will be responsible for completing pre-notifications and uploading health certificate(s) onto the UK IPAFFS system.
9. Access the information and guidance on the UK government website gov.uk and the Irish Government website, gov.ie. Check the UK Government BTOM website regularly for updates on the new UK import requirements.
10. Consider if there are issues to address in relation to logistics arrangements, for example, in relation to couriers. Register with the UK goods vehicle movement service (GVMS) if you are a Haulier who moves goods through the UK ports. This will help to ensure that goods are processed through customs without delay. Register here on gov.uk.
Information on the new UK Import Controls is available on gov.ie.
Contact your Competent Authority
For further information on how to apply for an Export Health Certificate, please contact your Competent Authority.