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

Fill in the application form (MS Word Document, 127KB) .

Send it to trader@rpa.gsi.gov.uk. The certificate will usually be issued within 5 working days.

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

To export animal products outside the EU you usually need an Export Health Certificate (EHC).

Depending on the country and your goods, there are some cases where you:

  • can’t export your product
  • don’t need a certificate

Contact the Centre for International Trade Carlisle to check.

If there’s an EHC for your goods

  1. Tell the Centre for International Trade Carlisle what you’re exporting and the destination country.

  2. You may be asked to nominate an official veterinarian to inspect your goods. To find one, ask at your local vet or email ovteam@apha.gsi.gov.uk (or contact DAERA in Northern Ireland).

  3. You’ll be given the application form you need. Fill it in and return it to the address on the form.

  4. Your certificate will be sent to your local authority or official veterinarian within 7 working days.

  5. Your local authority inspector or nominated vet will be asked to check that your animal products meet the requirements of the country you’re sending them to.

There’s no fee for the certificate but you’ll be charged for your vet or local authority inspector’s time.

If you export the same type of product again

You can use the same certificate if your EHC number is still up to date. Check you have the most recent version in the latest EHC list (PDF, 242KB, 72 pages) . If you don’t, contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

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

Check the table of countries for whether you need a plant health certificate to export grain outside the EU.

The table also shows if you need:

  • to send a sample for testing when you apply for your certificate
  • an import permit

You don’t need a certificate or licence to export to countries that aren’t in the table, or within the EU.

You apply a different way in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Europe

Country Plant health certificate Import permit Sample test
Albania Yes No Yes
Belarus Yes No No
Bosnia Yes No Yes
Georgia Yes No No
Hungary Yes No Yes
Macedonia Yes No No
Moldova Yes Yes Yes
Montenegro Yes Yes Yes
Serbia Yes No Yes
Ukraine Yes Yes Yes
Russia Yes Yes Yes

Asia and the Middle East

Country Plant health certificate Import permit Sample test
Afghanistan Yes No Yes
Bangladesh Yes No No
China Yes Yes Yes
India Yes No No
Iran Yes Yes No
Israel Yes No No
Kyrgyzstan Yes Yes No
Lebanon Yes No No
Muscat and Oman Yes No No
North Korea Yes No No
Pakistan Yes Yes No
Saudi Arabia Yes No No
South Korea Yes No No
*Sri Lanka Yes No No
Syria Yes Yes No
Taiwan Yes No No
Turkey Yes Yes No
UAE Yes No No
Vietnam Yes No Yes

*You only need a plant health certificate for wheat exports to Sri Lanka

Africa

Country Plant health certificate Import permit Sample test
Algeria Yes No No
Canary Islands Yes No No
Egypt Yes No No
Eritrea Yes No No
Ethiopia Yes No No
Jordan Yes Yes No
Kenya Yes Yes No
Libya Yes No No
Malawi Yes Yes No
Mauritania Yes No No
Morocco Yes No No
Nigeria Yes Yes No
Rwanda Yes No No
South Africa Yes Yes No
Sudan Yes No No
Tanzania Yes Yes No
Togo Yes Yes No
Uganda Yes Yes No

Central and South America

Country Plant health certificate Import permit Sample test
Bolivia Yes No Yes
Chile Yes Yes No
Colombia Yes No No
Cuba Yes No No
Haiti Yes No No
Jamaica Yes No No
Mexico Yes Yes No
Panama Yes No No
Peru Yes No No
Uruguay Yes No Yes

Australia

Country Plant health certificate Need an import permit Pests to test for
Australia Yes Yes Send a sample and request an admixture test from APHA

Apply for a plant health certificate for grain

If you need one, ask the plant authority in the country you’re exporting to (or your importer) about an import permit.

Fill in the first 3 sections of the plant health certificate application form (PDF, 193KB, 2 pages) . You can use guidance notes GSOP1 (PDF, 758KB, 11 pages) to help you.

Return the form to APHA 5 days before you want to export.

If required, include a 1kg sample when you return your application form. For Algeria, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, China or Vietnam, send a second 1kg sample in a paper bag sealed inside a plastic bag.

Contact the port you’re exporting from to arrange for a trade inspector to inspect your grain.

When you’ve passed your inspection, fill in another copy of the plant health certificate application form (PDF, 193KB, 2 pages) - this time complete section IV and part B.

If you fail the inspection, you’ll need to have your grain treated by a professional company. This usually takes 10 to 20 days, but you may be able to get your grain treated in transit.

Sometimes you’ll also need a declaration to add to your plant certificate to prove you’ve tested for certain pests. This is required in:

  • Hungary for acarus siro L
  • Vietnam for tilletia indica (karnal bunt) only
  • Kyrgyzstan for tilletia indica and Trogoderma granarium

For fees, see the apply for a plant health certificate section.

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 5 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. EHC list updated
  2. Export Health Certificate list updated
  3. EHC List updated
  4. Updated inspection fees due to fee changes from 6 April 2018.
  5. 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.
  6. First published.