Guidance

Food and drink businesses: working with the EU

What you need to do as a food and drink business to work with the EU.

Food labelling

Read the following guidance on food labelling:

Organic food labelling

GB (England, Scotland and Wales) recognises the EU as equivalent for the purpose of trade in organics until 31 December 2021.

Read the guidance on trading and labelling organic food.

Importing and exporting

To import and export products between the UK and EU you must:

  1. Get a GB Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

  2. Decide if you want to hire an import–export agent, or make the declarations yourself.

  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods to find out what they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you need to make them yourself.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU.

Comply with Rules of Origin for tariff-free trade

To trade with the EU without paying tariffs all goods need to comply with the preferential Rules of Origin. You need to be able to prove the origin of goods, according to the Product Specific Rules in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Read HMRC guidance to understand the steps you need to take.

Moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI)

Goods moving between Ireland and NI have different procedures compared with other UK-EU trade.

Read the guidance on customs procedures and VAT for goods moving between Ireland and NI.

Existing trade agreements with non-EU countries

EU trade agreements with non-EU countries do not apply to the UK.

Read the guidance on existing UK trade agreements with non-EU countries.

Changes to import tariffs

The UK applies a UK-specific tariff to imported goods.

Find out more about the UK Global Tariff (UKGT).

Importing animals, animal products and high risk feed

Read the guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products.

You need to follow the correct processes when importing:

Exporting animals and animal products

If you export animals, animal products, fish and fishery products from GB to the EU, the process you need to follow depends on the animal or animal product you’re exporting.

Read the guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products.

Importing plants and plant products

Plants and plant products (for example, plants for planting and seeds) that were managed under the EU plant passport scheme are subject to UK import controls.

Read the guidance on:

Exporting plants and plant products

For exports of controlled plants and plant products to the EU, third-country rules apply on all:

Read the guidance on:

Marketing standards

Check the guidance for the product you’re importing or exporting:

Marketing standards inspections are taking place. They’re managed to minimise delays at the border and disruption to trade flows.

If you export these products from GB to the EU, you must meet the requirements for third countries (non EU countries).

Non-harmonised food products

General rules on food are harmonised at EU level (for example, food labelling, food safety and hygiene requirements). In some cases, there are also additional EU rules covering specific foods such as chocolate, jams and honey.

Non-harmonised food products are food products where there are no specific additional EU rules. Member states may be able to introduce their own national rules for these products. National rules on these products are subject to an EU notification procedure to make sure they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade.

Non-harmonised food products can circulate freely on the EU market under mutual recognition rules.

UK exporters of non-harmonised goods must check if the first EU member state in which they intend to market their goods has any national rules for those products, and follow those rules. For example, the UK has to comply with the Spanish regulation on table olives.

Read guidance about trading under the mutual recognition principle.

There’s also a list of product contact points to provide information about national rules.

National standards for non-harmonised products can vary between different EU member states, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Once your goods have been lawfully marketed in one EU member state, you may then be able to make use of the mutual recognition principle.

Find out how to place manufactured goods on the EU market.

Your employees

There are certain schemes and processes you should be aware of if you employ EU citizens.

Find out more in the employing EU citizens in the UK guidance.

Data protection

Your business must ensure it follows data protection law.

Read about using personal data in your business or organisation and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transfers from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway to the UK.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 26 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. To trade with the EU without paying tariffs all goods need to comply with the preferential Rules of Origin. A section has been added to link to the HMRC guidance.

  2. First published.