Guidance

Exporting and importing fish if there’s no Brexit deal

Prepare for rules and processes for exporting and importing wild-caught marine fish if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Exporting fish to the EU from 30 March 2019

To export wild-caught marine fish to the EU if there’s no Brexit deal you’ll need:

  • a catch certificate
  • an export health certificate, except for direct landings in EU ports from UK-flagged fishing vessels

You may also need:

  • a prior notification form
  • a pre-landing declaration
  • a storage document
  • a processing statement

The EU uses these documents to monitor fishing activity and to detect illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

You’ll also need to comply with HMRC guidance on customs requirements for exporting to the EU.

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

This guidance on rules and export documents already applies to UK-caught fish that are exported to these non-EU countries:

  • Iceland
  • Ivory Coast
  • Kuwait
  • Madagascar
  • Norway
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Ukraine

Send fish to an EU border inspection post

You’ll need to send all consignments of fish and fishery products through an EU border inspection post (BIP) if the fish was both:

  • caught by a UK flagged vessel
  • landed in the UK before being transported to the EU by sea, air, road or rail

Create a catch certificate

You’ll need a catch certificate for most exports of fish to the EU. The catch certificate shows that the fish was caught legally.

You can now register to create UK catch certificates and use the service to create test documents.

To register you’ll need your Defra Government Gateway sign in details. You can create these the first time you use the service.

You’ll need to use this service to create catch certificates if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

It includes:

  • details about the catching vessels
  • amount of fish by species and net weight
  • presentation and state, such as whole or filleted, fresh or frozen
  • commodity code, also known as product code
  • when and where the fish was caught

To get a catch certificate to export a consignment of fish from the UK to the EU, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Complete an online catch certificate form for each consignment of fish. If you’re exporting fish that came from multiple vessels, you’ll need to specify quantities from each vessel.

  2. The UK fisheries authority will validate your catch certificate.

  3. Send the validated catch certificate to your EU importer to complete their sections.

  4. The importer will present the certificate to their competent authority.

You won’t need a catch certificate to export:

  • farmed fish and farmed shellfish
  • freshwater fish or freshwater shellfish
  • fish fry or larvae
  • some molluscs including cuttlefish, scallops, mussels, cockles and oysters, but you may still need a live shellfish registration document - contact your local council for more information

Method of transport

You’ll need to include transport details on the catch certificate. These include transport by:

  • sea: the container numbers and the name and flag of the container vessel
  • air: the airway bill or flight number
  • road: the registration number of the vehicle or CMR note
  • rail: the railway bill number

If you don’t know any of these details, check with your transport agent.

You’ll need to send the validated catch certificate to the importer so they can give it 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

Get help with catch certificates and supporting documents

Fish exports helpline

Get an export health certificate

You’ll need an export health certificate (EHC) for all exports of fish to the EU, including farmed fish and shellfish. You won’t need an EHC for direct landings in an EU port from a UK flagged fishing vessel.

Read guidance on how to get an EHC.

Direct landing documents

To land your catch from your UK flagged fishing vessel directly in the EU you’ll need to land in a designated EU port.

Fishery enforcement officers may inspect your fish when you arrive. You’ll need to show them the catch certificate.

You’ll need to complete a:

  • prior notification form
  • pre-landing declaration

Prior notification form

You’ll need to fill in a prior notification form and email it to your destination designated EU port. You need to send it:

  • for frozen fish, at least 72 hours before landing - you can fill in the prior notification form before 30 March 2019 for any exports planned from 30 March
  • for fresh fish, at least 4 hours before landing

Pre-landing declaration

You’ll need to fill in a pre-landing declaration and email it to your destination designated EU port 4 hours before landing.

You’ll need to give details of the:

  • area fished
  • quantity of fish by species on board the vessel

North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Port State Control forms

You’ll have to register your fishing vessel with NEAFC. Once your vessel is registered, you’ll need to submit a NEAFC Port State Control form (PSC1 or PSC2) before landing. Check with the NEAFC to find out how much notice you need to give. This will vary depending on the country you’re exporting to and how your product is presented.

Storage document - for fish stored in the UK but not processed

If you’re exporting to the EU fish sourced from another country that have been stored in the UK, but not processed in any way, you’ll need to create a storage document.

You can now create test UK storage documents.

You need your Defra Government Gateway details to sign in. You can create these the first time you use the service.

You’ll use this service to create storage documents if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

You’ll need to keep a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the storage document.

Processing statement - for fish processed in the UK

If you’re exporting to the EU fish sourced from another country that has been processed in the UK, you’ll need to create a processing statement.

You can now create test UK processing statements.

You need your Defra Government Gateway details to sign in. You can create these the first time you use the service.

You’ll use this service to create processing statements if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

You’ll need to include a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the processing statement.

Exporting fish to non-EU countries

Find out when to use catch certificates for non-EU imports and exports of fish.

Importing fish from the EU from 30 March 2019

If you import fish to the UK from the EU you’ll need a catch certificate and supporting documents validated by the country of export. These will vary as they are produced by the exporting country.

UK port health authorities (fisheries authorities in Northern Ireland) will check these documents on imports to the UK of containerised fish by sea, air, road or rail.

EU fishing vessels must land fish into a designated UK port.

If the fish you’re importing to the UK have been:

  • stored, you’ll need a storage document from the exporter
  • processed, you’ll need a processing statement from the exporter - this must be filled in by the processor and endorsed by the authority in the country of processing

You will not need a health certificate for imports of fish or fish products from the EU for at least 6 months after the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

If you re-export fish imported from the EU you’ll need to complete the re-export section on the catch certificate.

You’ll need to comply with HMRC guidance on customs requirements for importing from the EU.

Published 4 February 2019
Last updated 7 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Changes to NEAFC port state control forms section, changes to method of transport section
  2. Updated guidance with links to register for new UK service to create catch certificates and other fish export documents.
  3. First published.