Guidance

Importing and exporting fresh fruit and vegetables

Rules for importing, exporting and moving fresh fruit and vegetables to, from and around the UK.

All fruit and vegetables imported or exported to or from the UK must meet the relevant quality and labelling rules (marketing standards).

Importing fruit and vegetables from the EU to Great Britain (GB)

A small sample of imports from the EU will be selected for checks to ensure they’re complying with GB (England, Scotland and Wales) marketing standards.

If your consignment is selected for checks, you’ll be notified if it requires a GB-issued certificate of conformity (CoC). You’ll need to submit an application for that consignment through the Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates from the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (PEACH) system or by contacting Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

An EU-issued CoC is not required for release into free circulation in Great Britain.

Importing green bananas

An inspection certificate is needed for imports of green bananas from the EU to Great Britain.

If you’re an exempt trader, you:

  • are exempt for the period that your exemption certificate remains valid
  • do not require a GB inspection certificate when importing green bananas

You need to provide notifications about your consignment on PEACH in the same way as for non-EU imports. Both exempt traders and traders that are not exempt must do this.

Upcoming changes to PEACH

The PEACH system will be changing to a new IT system in summer 2021. You’ll be contacted to register for the new system when this happens. You should continue to use PEACH for import pre-notifications until then.

Importing fruit and vegetables from the EU to Northern Ireland (NI)

There is no change to the marketing standards requirements for importing fruit and vegetables from the EU to NI.

Moving fruit and vegetables from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

There is no change to the requirements for moving fruit and vegetables from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

Exporting fruit and vegetables from Great Britain to the EU

You need to follow third country import requirements in the EU marketing standards regulations if you export fruit and vegetables from Great Britain to the EU.

Produce subject to Specific Marketing Standard (SMS) requires a CoC issued by Great Britain to clear export customs processes in Great Britain. This includes products going to the EU.

You do not need a CoC issued by Great Britain for General Marketing Standard (GMS) goods to clear customs.

You may also require an import CoC that’s issued at entry to the EU by the importing member state. This depends on the member state’s risk assessment for GMS and SMS goods.

The European Commission has granted the UK AIS status for fruit and vegetables.

AIS status allows GB exporters of produce grown in Great Britain, to use a GB-issued CoC when clearing import customs processes in the EU. A sample of consignments may be checked before they’re imported into the EU, to ensure conformity with EU marketing standards.

The AIS scheme can only be used for produce grown in Great Britain. The scheme cannot be used for re-exports of third country produce from GB to the EU. Re-exports of third country produce are subject to the EU’s third country import requirements.

In England and Wales, the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) issues the relevant certification. To apply for this certification, you should make a PEACH application. In Scotland, you should apply to SASA for this certification.

Exporting green bananas

You need to follow third country import requirements in the EU marketing standards regulations if you export green bananas from Great Britain to the EU.

Approved Trader Scheme (ATS)

Approved trader status means you’re identified as lower risk and will receive fewer conformity checks. You can get approved trader status if:

  • you’re a grower, packer, importer or exporter
  • your business consistently meets marketing standards requirements

If you’re part of the ATS in Great Britain, you must remove the EU emblem from your UK food labels and use the replacement GB label. You should only sell your existing stock with the EU emblem in Great Britain, until your existing labels run out.

The GB label must contain the following:

  • ‘Marketing standard for fresh fruit and vegetables’
  • number of the approved trader
  • ‘Great Britain’ or ‘GB’
GB Approved Trader Scheme label

GB Approved Trader Scheme label

For more information about ATS, contact:

If you’re part of the ATS in NI, you can continue to use the EU ATS label.

When you need a CoC issued by Great Britain

Some SMS and GMS consignments imported from the EU require a CoC. You’re notified if your consignment is selected for inspection. You’ll need to submit a PEACH application or contact SASA for that consignment if selected.

You need to apply for a GB-issued CoC to clear GB customs if you export fruit and vegetables subject to SMS from Great Britain to the EU.

SMS products include:

  • apples
  • citrus fruit (lemons, oranges, clementines, mandarins, satsumas and their hybrids)
  • kiwi fruit
  • peaches and nectarines
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • table grapes
  • lettuces (including curly and broad-leaved endives)
  • sweet peppers
  • tomatoes

To apply for a GB-issued CoC:

You do not need a CoC for your produce to clear customs in Great Britain if you export fruit and vegetables subject to GMS to the EU.

Some EU countries may require a CoC on entry for certain produce subject to GMS.

Contact the appropriate authority at the destination country to find out:

  • whether your produce requires a CoC
  • how to get a certificate

Exporting fruit and vegetables from NI to the EU

There are no changes to the marketing standards requirements for exporting fruit and vegetables from NI to the EU.

Moving fruit and vegetables from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

Fruit and vegetables moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland need to enter through designated points of entry and meet EU import marketing standards requirements.

A risk-based approach applies to controls on fruit and vegetables from GB at points of entry in NI. In line with the very low risk posed by GB goods, SMS and GMS goods can be released into free circulation in NI without needing a GB CoC.

This may change on the basis of risk. This guidance will be updated if the position changes.

For more information, read guidance on moving goods into, out of, or through NI.

Importing and exporting between the UK and non-EU countries

You’ll need to follow existing UK marketing standards processes for:

  • importing fruit and vegetables directly from non-EU countries to the UK
  • exporting fruit and vegetables directly from the UK to non-EU countries

If you import fruit and vegetables into the UK from a non-EU country and a proportion of your consignment is re-exported to the EU, your consignment needs to undergo both import and export processes.

Importing from a non-EU country to the UK via the EU

Horticultural inspectors are continuing to assess fruit and vegetables travelling in transit from non-EU countries through the EU to the UK to:

  • determine whether an inspection is required at the border
  • ensure that they comply with the UK’s marketing standards

For produce regulated by both marketing standards and plant health regulations, checks may be carried out by both the:

  • Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI)
  • Plant Health and Seed Inspectorate (PHSI) (for England and Wales only)

In Scotland, all inspections are carried out by SASA.

Most marketing standards checks are carried out at the border, but in some cases, PHSI are checking produce at inland plant health facilities.

High risk goods

If produce is regulated by both marketing standards and plant health, multiple inspections are only carried out for imports to the UK that are assessed as being very high risk.

Very high risk goods include imports that meet the ‘high risk’ criteria and originate from high risk countries.

CoCs

The UK accepts COCs issued by countries in the AIS. Most imports from countries on the AIS scheme do not require routine marketing standards checks, but a small sample is randomly selected for inspections to ensure compliance.

Rejected goods

You’ll need to submit a PEACH application requesting a GB CoC for SMS goods, if both of the following conditions apply:

  • your consignment of SMS products is rejected by the EU
  • you want these products released into GB free circulation (declared and customs duties paid)

If both of these conditions apply to your consignment of GMS products, you may need to submit a PEACH application requesting a GB CoC for GMS goods. You should follow the import procedures for GMS goods.

If you want your consignment to return to Scotland, contact SASA Horticulture and Marketing Unit at hort.marketing@gov.scot.

If you need help

Contact defrahorticulture@defra.gov.uk if you have any queries. You’ll receive a response within 5 working days.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 15 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. New guidance for bringing goods back to Great Britain if they have been rejected for import.

  2. First published.