UK exit from the EU

Brexit has changed how we trade, fish and work with the EU. We’re providing practical support to help seafood businesses understand the new rules.

The UK left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into force at 23:00 on 31 December 2020. The new agreement means there are changes to: 

  • Trading seafood products between the UK and the EU which will affects customs, tariffs, food safety checks and labelling;
  • Fisheries, quotas and how we approach fisheries management;
  • Access to people for labour as freedom of movement ends for people coming from the EU to the UK to work;
  • Other EU laws and programmes that may affect how we do business with the EU. 

This page provides information for seafood businesses on what's in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. We will update it regularly as more information is shared. 

There is general Brexit transition information on Gov.uk for citizens and businesses.

Trading seafood products between the UK and the EU 

The most immediate changes are affecting those in an importing or exporting supply chain with the EU. We’ve highlighted the main points in the TCA that affect the seafood industry. You'll find more detail on our Seafood trade under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement page.

Food safety, labelling and customs requirements

The EU and UK have agreed to regulate separately on food safety and product standards, often referred to as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). This means there will be checks at the EU and UK border to ensure imported products meet the required regulatory standards.

Seafood exports from Great Britain (Northern Ireland is treated differently under the Northern Ireland Protocol) will need to be accompanied by the relevant documentation including:

  • export health certificates
  • catch certificates
  • customs declarations
  • pre notifications

The EU and the UK have agreed not to apply import or export duties on goods of UK or EU origin traded between their territories. However, the EU and the UK are in separate customs unions which means customs procedures (such as the lodging of import and export declarations) will still be necessary, even if no tariffs are payable.

Tariffs and Rules of Origin

A key aspect of the agreement is that zero tariffs will apply on seafood trade between the EU and the UK. However, for the preferential tariff rates to apply, the traded products must originate in either the UK or an EU member state. The TCA sets out criteria for ‘originating’ goods. These are known as ‘Rules of Origin’.

The following products would be deemed as ‘originating in the UK’ and therefore eligible to take advantage of zero tariffs:

  1. Fish and shellfish farmed in the UK, including product farmed from imported seed or fry.
  2. Fish and shellfish caught in UK territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles from shore).
  3. Fish and shellfish caught outside territorial waters provided it is caught by a ‘vessel of a Party’.
  4. Products made aboard UK factory ships exclusively from products referred to in (2) and (3).
  5. Certain seafood products that are the result of processing in the UK of raw materials that are neither UK nor EU raw materials.

For more information on Rules of Origin and examples of how they apply, visit our webpage on Seafood trade under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

If your products don’t qualify for zero tariffs, you will need to pay the rate listed on The UK Global Tariff. Check our Trade Agreements and Seafood Tariffs page for details.

Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol remains unaffected by this Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), although goods moving into the EU via Northern Ireland will have access to the zero tariffs provided the rules of origin are met.

More information on the Northern Ireland Protocol is on the Gov.uk website. 

EU exit guides for businesses

Further details on the specific steps that businesses need to take to continue to trade from 1 January 2021 can be found in our guides. 

Depending on your business, you may need to refer to more than one of these sections.

Advice and support from Seafish

Our Regulation experts can provide bespoke advice and support to your business. They have been responding to issues raised with us by businesses and individuals throughout the seafood supply chain and are working with government, local authorities and industry groups to find solutions.

For further assistance email regulation@seafish.co.uk