How to export fish for human consumption from 1 January 2021 and what documents you may need
Brexit transition: new rules for 2021
The UK has left the EU. This page tells you the new rules from 1 January 2021.
It will be updated if there’s new information about the UK’s deal with the EU that affects what you need to do.
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There may be further implications for trade between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Find out more about Moving goods into, out of, or through NI from 1 January 2021.
To export or move fish to the EU or NI from GB after 1 January 2021, you’ll need to follow the same rules that are currently in place for exports of fish to some non-EU countries. You’ll need to create:
- an export health certificate, except for direct landings of fresh fish in EU ports from UK-flagged fishing vessels
- a catch certificate – you need to validate this and send it to your importer
You’ll also need to meet health and identification mark requirements.
You may also need:
- direct landing documents
- a storage document if your product has been stored
- a processing statement if your product has been processed
You’ll need to follow customs and border inspection requirements.
There will be no new requirements for consignments of fish and fishery products moving from NI to the EU.
There will also be no new requirements for NI businesses moving consignments of fish and fishery products from NI to GB, in line with the UK government’s commitment to unfettered access.
The only extremely limited exceptions apply where goods fall within procedures relating to specific international obligations binding on the UK (like requirements on the trade of endangered species, or the movement of bluefin tuna or Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish).
There are actions you should take to prepare for exporting customs control. Read HMRC’s guidance to understand the steps you need to take.
These rules will apply to:
- exports to the EU of fish caught by a UK flagged fishing vessel
- exports to the EU of fish imported from another country that have been stored or processed in the UK
- direct landings in EU ports by a UK flagged fishing vessel
Send fish from GB to an EU BCP or NI Point of Entry
You’ll need to send all consignments of fish and fishery products through an EU border control post (BCP) or NI Point of Entry (PoE) with approved facilities if the fish was:
- caught by a UK flagged vessel
- imported into GB and processed or stored
- landed anywhere except the EU or NI
Your EU importer must notify the BCP or Point of Entry (PoE) in NI in advance of your arrival. Notification periods vary. Check with the BCP or PoE to find out how much notice you must give.
Fishery products entering the EU via Calais or Coquelles must travel to the BCP at Boulogne-sur-Mer under a Common Transit Convention (CTC) declaration submitted up to 72 hours in advance of arrival. Lorries arriving in Calais or Coquelles will be directed to the green corridor to go to the Boulogne-sur-Mer BCP, where checks will be carried out.
Check the HMRC guidance to find out how to move your goods using the Common Transit Convention.
Grace period for authorised traders moving food from GB to NI
There will be a 3 month grace period from certification through to 1 April 2021 for authorised traders such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers from 1 January 2021.
If you’re moving any fish products from GB to NI, you will not require official certification, such as export health certificates, phytosanitary certificates or marketing standards certification.
The UK Government and the NI Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will engage in a rapid exercise to ensure that traders who can benefit from these arrangements are identified prior to 31 December.
The Government will not discriminate against smaller suppliers or between different companies in implementing these practical measures.
The following conditions will be attached to these arrangements:
- the goods are packaged for end consumers and they bear a label reading “These products from the United Kingdom may not be marketed outside NI”
- they are destined solely for sale to end consumers in supermarkets located in NI, and they cannot be sold to other operators of the food chain
- they are accompanied by a simplified official certificate globally stating the products meet all the import requirements of EU legislation
- they enter NI through a designated point of entry, where they are submitted to a systematic documentary check and to a risk-based identity check on a selection of items in the means of transport
- they are monitored through a channelling procedure applicable from the designated point of entry to the destination supermarket in NI
Authorised traders are supermarkets and their trusted suppliers. The UK government will not discriminate against smaller suppliers or between different companies in recognising traders as authorised for the purpose of this grace period.
A trusted supplier is any business that independently moves its products from GB to NI, for sale in NI.
For example, a meat pie supplier that moves its own products from GB to NI, which delivers directly to a store for sale within NI only would be eligible for authorised trader status.
However, a meat pie supplier that delivers products to a supermarket distribution centre in GB, which is then moved by the supermarket to NI, the producer would not qualify. In this instance, the supermarket would be the authorised trader for that movement into Northern Ireland.
Self-identification by traders
Defra and DAERA are compiling a list of authorised traders who can benefit from the 3-month grace period. Once identified, the traders will be added onto Defra’s authorised traders list that will be sent to the European Commission.
You can also self-identify to be included on the list.
If you self-identify as an authorised trader, complete the Authorised Trader Form (PDF, 149KB, 2 pages).
The form must be completed fully. Make sure you provide your:
- business name
- company affiliation if you’re a supplier
- Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI)
- head office address
- NI distribution address if relevant
The form will ask further information on your operations. This information will be used to determine whether you are eligible to be included on the list.
Email Defra if you have questions about your eligibility or the grace period.
Email your completed authorised traders form to Defra by 17.00 pm (GMT) on 28 December 2020.
Defra will attempt to respond to all emails within 2 working days.
The emailed response will either:
- confirm that your business is included on the authorised traders list and include your business’ unique registration number
- contain a rejection letter with reasons and steps you can take to resolve them. You can challenge rejection decisions via email until 28 December 2020.
Get an export health certificate
You’ll need an EHC for all exports of fish to the EU and movements to NI.
To apply for an EHC, you’ll need to register for EHC Online.
All exports from GB of fishery products landed by UK flagged vessels, will need to be dispatched from a UK approved food establishment listed by the EU. Find out how to become listed.
You may want to consider re-routing products via approved fish auction halls or wholesale fish markets for certification to take place.
Send validated catch certificate to the importer
You must send the validated catch certificate to the importer so they can give them to the receiving country’s competent authority. You must do this for exports by:
- sea: 72 hours before landing
- air and rail: 4 hours before arriving
- road: 2 hours before arriving
The same applies for moving fish from GB to NI.
Storage document – for fish stored on the premises in GB but not processed
If you’re exporting from GB to the EU, or moving fish from GB to NI, fish sourced from another country that have been stored in GB for 12 hours or longer, but not processed in any way, you’ll need to create a storage document.
You must keep a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the storage document.
Processing statement – for fish processed in GB
If you’re exporting from GB to the EU, or moving fish from GB to NI, fish sourced from another country that has been processed in GB, you’ll need to create a processing statement.
Include a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the processing statement.
If you need help
If you have any question concerning fish and seafood exports, please call the Fish Exports Helpline on 0330 159 1959. This service will be available 24 hours a day from 29 December 2020.
For any queries before then, please contact the UK Single Liaison Office by emailing UKIUUSLO@marinemanagement.org.uk.
Composite fish products and those that use tariff codes starting 1604 or 1605 will need to:
- have the relevant IUU document(s)
- enter via a BCP and will be subject to veterinary checks
- have an Export Health Certificate
This also applies if you’re moving these fish products to NI.
Read the Export composite food products to the EU after 1 January 2021 guide to find out the rules you’ll need to follow.
Direct landing documents for landings into EU ports
To land your catch from your UK flagged fishing vessel directly in the EU, you’ll need to land in a North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) designated EU port.
Prior to landing, you’ll need to complete and submit a:
- prior notification form
- pre-landing declaration
- catch certificate
Fishery enforcement officers may inspect your fish when you arrive.
Prior notification form
If you’re landing in an EU member state with
- exempt fisheries products only, you need to fill in a prior notification for exempt fisheries product form
- all other fisheries products, or a combination of exempt and non-exempt products, you need to complete this prior notification form
Regardless of which form you fill in, you must email them to your destination’s designated EU port before landing. You need to send it:
- for frozen fish, at least 72 hours before landing – you can fill in the prior notification form before 1 January 2021 for any exports planned from 1 January
- for fresh fish, at least 4 hours before landing
You’ll need to give details of the:
- area fished
- quantity of fish by species on board the vessel
Special requirements for UK approved fishing vessels
Local Authority approved freezer, reefer or factory vessels that land frozen or processed fish directly into the EU will also require:
- a Captain’s Certificate signed by the Captain who is authorised by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) or DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs)
- the fish to be landed into a Border Control Post (BCP) approved for the landed fishery product
If your vessel is approved and the captain requires authorisation you should have been contacted by APHA. If you believe you require your captain to be authorised and have not been contacted, email FishEHC@defra.gov.uk.
‘Processing’ includes activities such as mincing, freezing and filleting. Read about processing, presentation and marketing of fish.
Non-food approved registered vessels that land fresh fish directly into the EU at a NEAFC designated port will not require an Export Health Certificate or need to pass through a BCP.
They will still be subject to any normal official controls within the port. ‘Fresh fish’ may have undergone primary production, which may include de-heading or gutting.
North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Port State Control forms
Speak to your licensing authority who can register your fishing vessel with NEAFC.
Once your vessel is registered, you’ll need to create an account to submit a NEAFC Port State Control form before landing.
For direct landings you’ll need to submit form PSC1
Check with the NEAFC to find out how much notice you need to give before landing. This will vary depending on the country you’re exporting to and how your product is presented.
Return rejected fish exports to GB
If your consignment of fish is rejected at an EU border control post(BCP), you may be able to return the goods to GB. This will depend on the reason it was rejected at the BCP.
The EU may reject or confiscate your fish export if:
- you did not provide catch certificates and related documents
- your documents have errors or are not accepted
- they failed health or identity checks
Fish products will only be accepted back to GB if they meet certain conditions.
Your fish may not be able to re-enter GB if a catch certificate was not sent by the exporter to the designated EU port in advance.
Speak to your customs representative and EU importer to find out if you can correct mistakes or supply further information to complete the export. The EU BCP will decide whether to accept your export.
To return your goods to GB, follow the returned goods policy for products of animal origin.
Direct landings by GB-registered vessels into NI ports
Direct landings of fresh fishery products (or fish that has undergone primary production such as de-heading) by UK-flagged vessels with their port of registration in GB into ports in NI will need to:
- Land into a port designated in line with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulations;
- Submit a prior notification form four hours in advance of landing;
- Submit a landing declaration (and transhipment declaration if applicable) four hours in advance of landing (or the transhipment taking place);
- Send a complete and validated catch certificate to the competent authority in NI (if applicable to the species of fish being landed);
Live bivalve molluscs cannot be directly landed this way.
Direct landings (either the vessel or the catch) may be subject to risk-based checks at the designated port into which they land.
There is a separate process for freezer, factory or reefer vessels landing fish that has undergone secondary processing (e.g. freezing or wrapping). These vessels will need to enter via a designated point of entry in line with SPS regulations and provide a Captain’s Certificate.
To sign the certificate, the captain must have been authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency. More details are available here. The vessels will need to be approved in line with food hygiene regulations by the relevant local authority and listed by the EU.
NI registered vessels
There will be no new SPS requirements for UK-flagged vessels with their port of registration in NI (‘NI-registered vessels’) when landing fishery products into NI or EU ports. This will be the case regardless of the location from which those products are caught.
This means that NI-registered vessels will not be required to land at designated ports in the EU or in NI for SPS purposes and no Captain’s Certificate will be required for the landing of processed products from food approved vessels. Additionally, these vessels, if food-approved vessels, do not have to be listed by the EU as third country vessels approved for exports.
- export or move European Eels (Anguilla anguilla) to the EU or NI
- import or move European Eels from the EU or NI
This is because they’re listed in annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that the European Union has a ban on imports and a zero export quota because of its assessment that such trade is detrimental to the survival of the species.
For some specific trade in European eel between GB and NI, the UK CITES Scientific Authority has determined that it has been demonstrated scientifically that this trade is non-detrimental to the wild population of European Eel but the evidence provided by the UK is still being considered by the relevant EU CITES body.
Bluefin tuna and Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish
Direct landings, imports and exports of Bluefin Tuna or Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish into and from the UK (except for movements between NI and the EU) will require validated catch documents to be submitted to the importing competent authority or relevant fisheries administration, and verifications of those to take place.
In line with the extremely limited exceptions to unfettered access for NI businesses moving goods from NI to GB where there is a specific international obligation binding on the UK, the movement of these species between GB and NI, in both directions, will also require the submission of these catch documents and verifications will be carried out as appropriate.