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:
- processed food and drinks, including flour and spices
- meat, fish, dairy and other animal products like honey and gelatine
- vegetables, fruit and other plants used as food
- grain (outside the EU only)
- sugar and rice (outside the EU only)
You can check each country’s rules by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market.
There’s a ban on most food exports to Russia. Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Centre for International Trade Carlisle for details.
Processed food and drinks: current rules
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 the firstname.lastname@example.org your computer. Fill in all relevant parts, then email it to
Valid forms are processed 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 do not 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 check with the food safety team in the local authority where your product was manufactured.
Meat, fish, dairy and other animal products: current rules
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
- gelatine, lard or blood
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 that will be eaten by humans.
It should include:
- the content of the consignment
- your contact details
- 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.
The EHC is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.
Vegetables, fruit and other plants used as food: current rules
Within the EU
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 if you need a certificate.
There are different rules for grain.
Apply for a plant health certificate
You usually must apply for your plants to be inspected or tested before you get a plant health certificate.
Apply by filling in the appropriate form for:
- plants from
Return the completed form to your local APHA office.
If your plants pass testing, 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.
You can also check the import requirements for the country you plan to export to. You may need to wash soil from the roots of the plants you export - the USA, New Zealand and some other countries require this.
The fees for export inspections change on 1 October 2019.
The fees are £63.80, with a minimum fee of £127.60.
The fees for the audit of a grain inspection are £26.40, with a minimum fee of £52.80.
The fees are payable for each 15 minutes (or part thereof) spent in carrying out the inspection and any associated activities. These associated activities include the time it takes inspectors to travel to your site and any administration relevant to that inspection, subject to the minimum fees.
An additional fee of £15.76 is charged if you submit an application for an export in paper form rather than online.
Issue of a phytosanitary certificate fee is £25.52 per certificate.
Laboratory examination fee is £33.56 per sample tested.
Amendment of a certificate at the request of an exporter is £15.76.
You canfor the first £1500 of APHA services in a financial year if either of the following apply:
- you’re not registered for VAT
- your certified exports were worth less than £5,000 in the last financial year
Grain: current rules
The table lists countries known to require a plant health certificate and whether an import permit or any further testing is required.
Additional countries where there has been no recent trade in grain may also require a certificate and you should check with APHA email@example.com 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|
|China (ex. Barley)||Yes||Yes||Yes||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 and return to APHA firstname.lastname@example.org 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 and return to APHA to issue the certificate.
More detailed guidance about phytosanitary certification of grain for export can be found in the guidance note GSOP1.
Sugar and rice: current rules
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
You need to get a trader registration number from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
Ask them if there is a security deposit to pay on your goods and how much it will be.
Fill in the.
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 RPA or send it by fax or post. If you want to email it, you need to apply for approval. Complete and return abefore submitting your licence application.
If you’d like to cancel or amend your application, you must do this before midday 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