Guidance

Export food, drink and agricultural products: special rules

Check if you need a certificate to export food, drink and agricultural products.

You may need a certificate or to follow special rules to export:

Some countries may have import rules for certain goods. You can check by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market.

There is a ban on most food exports to Russia. Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle for details.

Processed food and drinks

Within the EU you don’t need a certificate or to follow special rules to move processed foods or drinks.

Outside the EU, check with the food authority in the country you’re exporting to. They’ll tell you if you need ‘certificates of free sale’ (and which type), or any other types of export certification.

If you export any soft drinks with added sugar, you may need to register for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. You can claim a credit for any exported drinks you pay the levy on.

If your food or drink contains animal products, also check if you need an export health certificate. This is only required in special cases.

There’s a ban on exporting caviar, caviar substitutes, truffles and goods containing truffles to North Korea.

Apply for a certificate of free sale

Save a copy of this application form (MS Word Document, 128KB) to your computer. Fill in all relevant parts, then email it to Trader@rpa.gov.uk.

We process (valid) applications in order of receipt, within 5 working days of receiving them. You should allow 10 working days from sending your application to receiving your certificate(s) back.

It’s free to apply and the certificates don’t expire (unless the country you’re exporting to specifies a time limit).

If you need help

Contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

Rural Payments Agency
Telephone: 03300 416 500
Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

Getting another type of export certification

Some countries require another type of export certificate for certain products.

If your product was made in the UK, you can contact the food safety team in the local authority where your product was manufactured.

Meat, dairy and other animal products

You need to follow special rules to export animal products that will be used as food, for example:

  • frozen or fresh meat and fish
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • gelatine, lard or blood

What you need to do depends on if you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

There are different rules for animal products that will be used as food for animals.

Within the EU

You need to create a commercial document for animal products which will be eaten by humans.

It should include:

  • details of the content of the consignment
  • your contact details
  • details of the business or person you’re sending your goods to

Once you’ve completed it, attach it to your consignment.

Outside the EU

You will usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to be able to export your product.

There are some types of products you cannot export, or cases where you don’t need a certificate. If you cannot find the EHC you need, contact APHA.

To find out if you need an EHC and apply, follow these steps.

  1. The Export Health Certificate form finder helps you find and fill out the EHC and other supporting forms you will need to export your product. If you are exporting from Northern Ireland, contact your local DAERA office. Most EHCs will also have guidance documents that give information on how to fill out the certificate.

  2. Fill out the EHC and supporting forms and email them to the APHA address provided in the forms.

  3. In most cases you will need to nominate an official veterinarian (OV) to inspect your product and sign the certificate.

  4. APHA will send your EHC to your OV within 7 working days.

  5. The OV will check the product meets the health requirements of the destination country, complete the EHC and sign. The completed EHC will go with the product, and the OV will send a copy to APHA.

To find an OV you can:

There is no fee for processing the EHC but you will need to pay for the OV’s services.

Use the most up to date EHC

EHC’s are sometimes updated when export agreements are changed. So make sure you are using the latest version of a certificate. The EHC form finder will always have the latest version.

Out of date forms will be rejected and cause delays to your exports.

You can sign up for alerts on the form finder, so that you get an email when a form is updated.

Vegetables, fruit and other plants used as food

What you need to do depends on if you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

Within the EU

Check if your fruit (PDF, 97.2KB, 1 page) or vegetables (PDF, 157KB, 1 page) need a supplier document.

If you need a supplier document, contact the Plant Health Office to apply.

If you don’t need one, you don’t have to do anything to move plants used as food within the EU. But you always have to comply with the normal standards to sell fresh fruit and vegetables.

Outside the EU

Most countries require you to have a health certificate (‘phytosanitary certificate’) if you export fruit, vegetables or other plants to be used as food.

Check with the country that you’re exporting to find if you need a certificate.

There are different rules for grain.

You apply a different way to export plants from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Apply for a plant health certificate

You must usually apply for your plants to be tested before you get a plant health certificate.

If you’re a member of the Plant Health Propagation Scheme or the Seed potato Classification Scheme, you may not need a certificate. Contact APHA to find out.

Apply by filling in the appropriate form for:

Return the completed form to your local APHA office.

Your plants will be tested. If they pass, you’ll get your certificate in 7 days.

You can contact APHA to check whether you:

  • need a soil inspection for the plants you’re exporting - use the soil inspection form if you do
  • need to wash soil from the roots of the plants you export - the USA, New Zealand and other countries require this

Fees

The fees for export inspections are changing on 6 April 2018. In order to allow businesses time to prepare for this change, the fees are being introduced in 3 phases.

  • From 6 April 2018 to 30 September 2018 the fee is £68.88, with a minimum fee of £137.76
  • From 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019 the fee is £70.76, with a minimum fee of £141.52
  • From 1 April 2019 the fee is £70.76, with a minimum fee of £141.52

The fees are charged for every quarter of an hour or part of that time that an inspection and associated activities takes, including the time it takes inspectors to travel to your site.

Issue of a phytosanitary certificate fee:

  • From 6 April 2018 to 30 September 2018 the fee is £18.23 per certificate
  • From 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019 the fee is £20.41 per certificate
  • From 1 April 2019 the fee is £22.59 per certificate

Laboratory examination fee:

  • From 6 April 2018 to 30 September 2018 the fee is £15.38 per sample tested
  • From 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019 the fee is £23.07 per sample tested
  • From 1 April 2019 the fee is £30.76 per sample tested

Reduced fees for small businesses

You can apply for a 50% discount (PDF, 219KB, 1 page) for the first £500 of APHA services in a financial year if either the following apply:

  • you’re not registered for VAT
  • your certified exports were worth less than £5,000 in the last financial year

Grain

The table lists countries known to require a plant health certificate and details whether an import permit or any further testing is required.

Additional countries for which there has been no recent trade in grain may also require a certificate and you should check with APHA phastplantproducts@apha.gsi.gov.uk before sending consignments.

You do not need a Plant Health Certificate to send grain to the EU.

Country of destination Import permit required Phytosanitary certificate required Testing required for prohibited plants pests and diseases Testing required for prohibited weed and parasitic plants Orobanche testing required
Algeria No Yes No Yes Yes
Bangladesh Yes Yes No Yes No
Cameroon Yes Yes No No No
China (Barley) Yes Yes No (see Article 3 above Yes No
China (ex. Barley Yes Yes No Yes No
Ghana Yes Yes No No No
Japan No Yes No Yes Yes
Mauritania No Yes No Yes No
Morocco No Yes No No No
Russia No Yes No Yes No
Saudi Arabia No Yes No No No
Suriname No Yes No No No
Syria Yes Yes No No No
Taiwan Yes Yes No Yes No
Thailand No Yes No Yes Yes
Tunisia No Yes No Yes Yes
Turkey No Yes No Yes No
UAE Yes Yes No No No
USA No Yes No Yes Yes

Apply for a plant health certificate for grain

If a plant health certificate is required you should complete the first 3 sections of the plant health certificate application form (PDF, 193KB, 2 pages) and return to APHA phastplantproducts@apha.gsi.gov.uk at least 5 working days before loading to ship.

If an Import permit is also required you should obtain this from the country you are exporting to and forward a copy to APHA with your application.

Contact the port you are exporting from to arrange for an authorised trade inspector. The inspector will examine the grain being loaded to ship and take/submit any samples required for testing.

If specified grain pests are identified in the loaded grain then you will have to arrange for the grain to be treated by a professional company.

When all the grain has been inspected and loaded you should complete the remaining sections of the plant health certificate application form (PDF, 193KB, 2 pages) and return to APHA for issuance of the certificate.

More detailed guidance regarding the phytosanitary certification of grain for export can be found in the guidance notes GSOP1 (PDF, 758KB, 11 pages) .

Sugar and rice

You don’t need a certificate or licence to export within the EU.

If you’re exporting these goods outside the EU, you need an export licence.

Apply for a mandatory export licence

Call the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to get a trader registration number if you don’t have one or have it ready when you call.

Ask them if there is a security deposit to pay on your goods and how much it will be.

Fill in the application form (MS Word Document, 359KB) .

Your licence will be issued through the CHIEF system. You can also ask for a paper licence if the countries you’re trading with require this.

You can email your licence application to us or send it by fax or post. If you wish to submit by email then you will need to be pre-approved to do so. For pre-approval, you need to complete and return a Licensing - Submission/Notification of emails (form il3) (MS Word Document, 330KB) before submitting any licence applications.

If you’d like to cancel or amend your application you must do this before 12pm on the day you apply.

Getting your security deposit back

Your security will be refunded in full if you export at least 95% of the quantity on the licence. A paper licence must be returned within 60 days of its expiry date. The security will be released automatically if you used the CHIEF system to export the goods.

If you need help

Contact RPA if you need help.

RPA external trade helpline
Telephone: 03300 416500
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm

Published 11 November 2016
Last updated 19 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. Grain information updated
  2. EHC list updated
  3. Export Health Certificate list updated
  4. EHC List updated
  5. Updated inspection fees due to fee changes from 6 April 2018.
  6. Added a link to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy guide and changed the title to include 'drink'. From January 2018, exporters of certain drinks with added sugar might have to pay a levy.
  7. First published.