I catch or farm seafood

Information and guidance on fish caught or farmed that is imported from or exported to the EU from 1 January 2021.

Last updated: Wednesday 4th November 2020

1. My catch is landed in Great Britain and immediately loaded onto a lorry for export to the EU/Northern Ireland. Can I still operate this way after 1 January 2021?

In the above circumstances the fish are classed as being exported from GB to the EU and Northern Ireland. EU rules require such products to come from an approved food establishment.

To become approved food establishments processing, wrapping or packing must take place and therefore only factory, freezer and reefer vessels are approved. If you are exporting fishery products from a registered vessel immediately upon landing in England, Scotland or Wales, you may need to consider one of the following options:

1. Sell your products at a fish market that is an approved food establishment, and from where the products can be issued with an oval health/identification mark and an Export Health Certificate;


2. Discuss requirements for becoming an approved food establishment with your Local Authority. This may require a change to your current processes. If you use vivier lorries, you may be able to acquire approved establishment status for the vehicle. See question '13. Can my vivier lorry obtain approved establishment status?’ on the 'I export seafood from Great Britain' web page for further information. 

When the fish are exported to the EU or Northern Ireland they will need to be accompanied by certain documentation

2. I operate a UK flagged Vessel and land my catch directly into the EU and Northern Ireland. How will this process change from 1 January 2021?

While the process of landing fishery products from UK-flagged vessels directly into the EU is expected to change after 1 January 2021, the details and extent of this change will be dependent on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations with the EU.

In the case of no future trade deal being agreed beyond the Withdrawal Agreement, UK flagged vessels landing fisheries products directly into the EU should consider the following:

If you are a UK vessel landing into Northern Ireland you will be classed as a UK vessel landing into an EU port, however if you are a UK vessel registered in Northern Ireland different rules will apply. For specific advice please see our Northern Ireland guidance.

For all types of UK-flagged vessels:

a. Make sure you have an IMO Number if you fish in EU waters

While future access to fish in EU and other coastal State waters remains a matter for negotiation, UK fishermen who want to prepare for all scenarios at the end of the transition period should apply for an International Maritime Organization (IMO) number now.

In order to grant UK vessels authorisation to carry out fishing activities in EU waters in some circumstances, UK flagged vessels will be required to register with the IMO.

IMO registration is free and all UK fishing vessels will have to submit their IMO number to the Single Issuing Authority being established by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

b. Make sure your intended port of landing is designated by NEAFC and the EU

You must ensure your UK-flagged vessel lands or transships at a port in the EU or Northern Ireland which is designated by both the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the EU.

View the list of NEAFC designated ports

View the list of ports at which sea fish may be landed in the EU and Northern Ireland, in accordance with EU IUU legislation 

c. Obtain a Catch Certificate

Catch certificates are issued by the country where the fishing vessel is registered (the flag state). They prove that fish have been caught legally. They are not needed for freshwater fish, some molluscs (including mussels, cockles, oysters and scallops, fish fry or larvae. See question ‘How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU?'

The MMO’s Fish Exports Helpline can support you through the catch certification process. Telephone: 0330 159 1989

d. Obtain and submit a prior notification form

You will need to land at an EU port designated by North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and give the port prior notification of your arrival:

• for frozen fish, at least 72 hours before landing
• for fresh fish, at least 4 hours before landing

There are different prior notification forms for exempt e.g. some freshwater and aquaculture species (see Annex I of Commission Regulation (EU) No 202/2011 for full list) and non-exempt (or a combination of exempt and non-exempt) fisheries products.

More information on prior notification forms can be found in government guidance.

e. Obtain and submit a Pre-landing declaration

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

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

More information on pre-landing declarations can be found in government guidance.

f. North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Port State Control form (PSC1 or PSC2)

Speak to your licensing authority who can register your fishing vessel with NEAFC.

Once your vessel is registered, you will need to create an account with NEAFC. to submit a Port State Control form (PSC1 or PSC2) before landing.

  • PSC 1 is required if the vessel is landing its own catch.
  • PSC 2 is required if the vessel has been engaged in transshipment operations.

Vessels carrying both their own catch and fish transshipped from other vessels are required to fill in both PSC 1 and PSC 2.

Check the NEAFC website to find out how much notice you need to give for your PSC1 or PSC2. This will vary depending on the country you’re exporting to and how your product is presented.

g. For UK-flagged factory, reefer or freezer vessels only:

Vessels approved by Local Authorities that land frozen or processed fish directly into the EU will also require:

  • A Captain’s Certificate signed by the Captain who is authorised by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) or DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs), instead of an EHC.
  • The fish to be landed into a Border Control Post (BCP) approved for the landed fishery product.

3. I import live bivalve molluscs (e.g. Mussels and Oysters) from the EU for aquaculture purposes. Will my processes change?

There will be new processes that importers must follow for live fish, molluscs and crustaceans imported for aquaculture and ornamental purposes including live bivalve molluscs for depuration prior to consumption.

England and Wales

From 1 January 2021
Live aquatic animals from the EU must be:

From 1 July 2021
New import requirements will apply to live aquatic animals imported from the EU.

They must be:

  • Accompanied by an Export Animal Health Certificate so they can have documentary checks. UK model animal health certificates are under review and will be made available through the FHI on completion.
  • Pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS
  • Entered through a suitable Border Control Post (BCP) so they’re available for documentary, identity and physical checks. Only some BCPs are approved for live aquatic animals. View a full list of UK BCPs

Read UK Government guidance for more information on importing live aquatic animals at the end of the transition period.


The Fish Health Inspectorate in Marine Scotland must be notified of all planned imports using the relevant notification forms.

For specific queries please contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (Scotland) team.

4. I import live aquatic animals (e.g. Mussels and Oysters) from a non-EU country for aquaculture purposes. Will my processes change?

From 1 January 2021, you will no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System). Instead, you will need to use the UK’s new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS). You must use IPAFFS to notify the UK BCP at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.

Export Animal Health Certificates are required. Health certificates and other documentation are being reviewed and further guidance will follow. Contact FHI for the required documentation.

You must continue to import live animals into the UK through a UK border control post (BCP) formerly known as Border Inspection Posts (BIPs).

5. I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for aquaculture purposes. Will my processes change?

If the transition period ends without a future trade agreement in place, you will need an Export Animal Health Certificate (EAHCs) to move the following live aquatic animals from Great Britain into the EU or Northern Ireland:

  • aquaculture animals for farming, relaying, put and take fisheries and open ornamental facilities
  • Live bivalve molluscs for immediate processing, or purification (depuration) prior to human consumption.

You do not need an animal health certificate for scallops; you will need an EHC for fishery products.

It is recommended that you check with the Competent Authority or Official Service for Aquatic Animal Health in the destination country or via their embassy in the UK to find out what Export Animal Health Certificate is required.

You must then contact the relevant competent authority to apply for an EAHC at least 5 working days before export:

  • Fish Health Inspectorate at Cefas if you are in England or Wales
  • Fish Health Inspectorate at Marine Scotland if you are in Scotland
  • There are different rules for Northern Ireland, please see our separate guide for more information

EAHCs must be signed by the relevant competent authority following an inspection of the consignment and must accompany the consignment.

The consignment must enter the EU via a Border Control Post (BCP) approved to handle live aquatic animals within the EU. You’ll need to consider if your current trade routes could be affected.

Find an EU-approved Border Control Post.

Make sure your importer/ EU-based import agent has notified the BCP that your consignment is arriving - check with the BCP for how much notice needs to be given.

Further information on exporting live aquatic animals to the EU

Apply for an EAHC

6. I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for direct human consumption. Will my processes change?

Live aquatic animals intended for direct consumption by the final consumer – such as live oysters and mussels (if from Class A waters or depurated), crabs and lobster – are classed as animal products and not as live animals. These products will therefore be subject to controls applying to animal products rather than live animal controls and are subject to circumstantial rules. Scallops caught in unclassified waters cannot be directly placed on the market. They will need to be placed on the market from an approved fish market or processor.

Visit the 'I export seafood from Great Britain' web page and see question 1. How do I move fishery products from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period? (excluding direct landings)’ for more information on the controls applicable to live aquatic animals.