I export seafood from Great Britain

Information and guidance on exporting seafood from the UK to the EU including labelling, customs and tariffs and documentation.

Published: Wednesday 4 November 2020


Content updated: Thursday 18 November 2021

  • Questions and answers updated (with the exception of question 4)
  • Order of questions and answers updated

 

1. How do I move fishery products from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland? (excluding direct landings)

The process of moving fisheries and aquaculture products from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland changed at the end of the EU exit transition period.

GB businesses exporting fishery products to the EU must now consider the following:

  • Do you have a valid GB Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number and a valid EU and XI EORI number where applicable?
    (see questions '24. Do I need an EORI number to trade with the EU?’ and '25. Do I need an EORI number to trade with Northern Ireland?’ further down on this web page.)
  • Exports of temperature controlled fishery products must be dispatched from a UK approved food establishment that has been listed by the EU. Shelf-stable seafood can be dispatched from an ambient storage facility that has been registered with the local authority.
    (see question ' Does my approved food business need to be listed with the EU?’ further down on this web page.)
  • All UK-flagged vessels supplying fishery products for export to the EU must be registered as a food business with the local authority, who will conduct hygiene inspections, to ensure the exported consignment complies with EU import rules. This applies to all vessels which are not approved food establishments. To register your UK-flagged vessel as a food business you should contact your local authority.

(see question ‘3. My consignments to the EU and Northern Ireland derive from UK-flagged vessels. Do I need to check that they the vessels are eligible for export to the EU?’ on this page for more information.)

  • Does your consignment of fish and fishery products arrive into the EU via an EU Border Control Post (BCP) which is approved to handle your category of goods?
  • Have you obtained a signed Export Health Certificate for every consignment to the EU?
    (see question ’32. How do I get an Export Health Certificate for my consignment bound for the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’ on this web page.) 
  • Have you obtained a Catch Certificate, where applicable for your product? Have you sent it to the importer so they can give it to the receiving Member State’s competent authority? It is recommended that a copy of the certificate accompanies the consignment.
    (See question '36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’ on this page for further information.)
  • If you are exporting fish sourced from another country that has been stored in the UK for more than 12 hours, have you obtained a Storage Document?
    (See question '36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’ on this page for further information.)
  • If you are exporting fish sourced from another country that has been processed in the UK, have you obtained a Processing Statement?
    (See question 36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’ on this page for further information.)
  • Does your packaging display the correct UK health/identification mark?
    (See question '17. What is the format of the health and identification mark that should be applied to products exported to the EU?’ on this page for more information.)
  • If your consignment contains pre-packaged food, does it have an EU address on the packaging?
    (See question '16. Which food business address should be labelled on pre-packaged seafood exported to the EU?’ on this page for more information.)
  • Agree Incoterms with your EU trading partners.
    (see question ‘30. Do I need to agree Incoterms with my trading partners?’ on this page for more information.)
  • Submit an export declaration to HMRC yourself or get your customs broker to submit on your behalf.
    (See question ‘29. Should I use a Customs Broker/Agent or Freight Forwarder to help with customs procedures?’ on this page for more information.)

Government guidance ‘Exporting or moving fish from the UK’ can also provide more information.

2. Do I need to provide traceability information to my EU customers?

Yes. Fishery products imported into the EU from third countries such as the UK must comply with the EU’s minimum traceability requirements.

Fishery products imported into the EU from third countries are however exempt from Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009. This removes the legal requirement to provide lot numbers throughout the supply chain. Batch numbers may be required for Export Health Certificate purposes.

Seafish guidance provides more information on seafood traceability regulations.

3. My consignments to the EU and Northern Ireland derive from UK-flagged vessels. Do I need to check that the vessels are eligible for export to the EU?

All UK-flagged vessels supplying fishery products for export to the EU must be registered as a food business with the local authority, who will conduct hygiene inspections, to ensure the exported consignment complies with EU import rules. This applies to all vessels which are not approved food establishments.

The EU Export Health Certificate (EHC) for fishery products requires the Certifying Officer (CO) to attest that fish “have been caught and handled on board vessels, landed, handled and where appropriate prepared...in compliance with the requirements laid down in Section VIII, Chapters I to IV of Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004”. Certifying Officers seeking evidence to satisfy themselves that this requirement has been met may require evidence of a vessel’s registration as a food business with a local authority.

To facilitate the export health certification process, businesses responsible for the UK-flagged vessels supplying the fish should provide evidence of their registration as a food business to the approved food establishment which dispatches their catch to the EU or Northern Ireland. Evidence must have been supplied from the local authority with which the vessel is registered as a food business, for example, via a letter on local authority headed paper or an email from a local authority email account.

4. Does the UK possess ‘third country’ status?

The UK secured third country status on 24 December 2020.

5. Does my approved food business need to be listed with the EU?

You need to be listed with the European Commission if you are an approved establishment in Great Britain that:

  • Exports seafood to the EU or
  • Moves seafood to Northern Ireland, or
  • Supplies other businesses who move your products to the EU or NI.

The Food Standards Agency automatically put forward all existing approved establishments for listing with the European Commission in 2020. Check that your business has been listed to export seafood to the EU.

If your fish and shellfish establishment is not listed and you think it should be, you should contact your local authority to initiate the approval process.

Once your establishment is approved by the local authority, they will notify the National Contact Point UK (NCP) at Defra. The NCP will collate and submit all new notification, plus any amendments or deletions to the European Commission.

The European Commission will then process the information, grant approvals for the establishment and upload the details onto TRACES. This information is also added to the EU Commission lists of UK approved establishments on the Europa website. You must allow up to 30 working days for this process to be completed.

6. What can I do to avoid delays at the border?

Missing or inaccurate paperwork is one of the most common causes of delay at the border. It is important to liaise with your overseas counterpart to obtain clear instructions on what paperwork you need to provide. Ensuring that documentation is legible, complete, thorough and correct can help to mitigate the risk of hold ups during border checks. The timely arrival of documentation contributes to a timely clearance, for example arranging for your documentation to arrive prior to the goods.

Use of a reputable customs broker with a good relationship with the customs authorities in the importing Member State can also help to ensure your goods are cleared efficiently.

Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status gives quicker access to some simplified customs procedures and, in some cases, the right to ‘fast-track’ your shipments through some customs and safety and security procedures. Application preparation and submission for AEO status typically takes 3 to 12 months, followed by 120 days for customs to assess your submission, and conduct site visits. If you are interested in achieving AEO status, you are advised to read the relevant guidance published by HMRC.

If you import from the EU you can also make use of the Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP). These will allow deferments on the submission of customs declarations, the payment of customs duty and other requirements. You can find more information in Q7 and Q8 of our ‘Seafood trade under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement’ guide.

7. Is there mutual recognition of UK products across the EU?

Mutual recognition allows products legally sold in one EU Member State to be sold in any other EU Member State, even if the product standards are not harmonised. Harmonised products meet the legal requirements in both countries and can continue to be marketed in each country.

UK seafood producers are no longer able to benefit from the mutual recognition principle in EU and EEA countries. UK exporters must therefore check if their destination market in the EU or EEA has any national rules that apply in addition to EU rules. Once your seafood product enters into free circulation in a Member State, it can be sold in any other Member State without having to meet any additional rules in the subsequent Member State.

8. Does my wooden packaging (e.g. pallets) need to meet specific requirements?

Yes. Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between Great Britain and the EU (including Northern Ireland) must meet ISPM15 international standards and may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU or Northern Ireland.

Applicable packaging

ISPM15 international standards apply to solid wood packaging such as packing cases, boxes and crates, drums and similar packing, pallets, box pallets and pallet collars and dunnage (loose wood used to protect goods and their packaging).

These standards do not apply to processed woods like plywood, raw wood less than 6mm thick, or cardboard or other packaging materials.

You can check whether a pallet has been treated to ISPM15 standard if it bears 2 ISPM15 marks on opposite sides of the pallet. These marks must be visible and legible and can appear on the block, stringer or lead board of the pallet. A pallet simply having an ISPM15 stamp on may not mean it is compliant as it might not be fully legible.

Exporting solid wood packaging

You, or your packing service or freight forwarder, must make sure any solid wood packaging you use meets ISPM15 international standards.

All wood packaging material and dunnage which is exported to the EU and Northern Ireland from a non-EU country must be:

  • either heat treated or fumigated in line with ISPM15 procedures
  • officially marked with the ISPM15 stamp consisting of 3 codes (country, producer and measure applied) and the IPPC logo
  • debarked


If you export packaging outside the EU, check if the country you’re trading with accepts ISPM15 standards and if they have any other requirements.

You can either:

For more information see UK Government guidance ‘wood packaging goods for import and export’ and EU guidance ‘requirements for wood packaging and dunnage’.

Northern Ireland

If you’re exporting solid wood packaging from Northern Ireland to the EU, you do not need to meet ISPM15 standards.

If you’re moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the wood packaging must meet ISPM15 standards.

9. What UK legislation covers seafood exports?

Legislation governing seafood exports is largely set out by the importing country. It is the responsibility of the exporter to identify what the importing country's requirements are, to take the necessary measures to meet them and to carry out any confirmatory checks. 

The UK places no particular controls on seafood exports other than those relevant to all food businesses, i.e. those related to compliance with food law. In the domestic context, these food laws include the UK’s Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) which covers operations involved in the export of food. It requires food businesses to ensure that they do not render food injurious to health, sell food not of the nature or substance or quality demanded to the purchaser’s prejudice nor falsely describe or present food.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act converts “direct EU legislation” which is “operative” immediately before exit day, into domestic law. As a result, the following EU food laws remain applicable to UK food exports:

General Food Law

Article 12 of the General Food Law Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 requires that food exported or re-exported for placing on the market abroad needs to comply with relevant food law. 

Hygiene Regulations

Article 11 of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 requires food for export to comply with the following hygiene requirements, in particular:

  • The specific requirements in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004
  • Microbiological criteria
  • Hygiene procedures
  • Temperature control and maintenance of the cold chain
  • Sampling and analysis
  • The requirement to have in place a permanent documented procedure based on HACCP principles

10. How do I find out if an EU Member State has separate seafood safety requirements?

Each importing country has its own legislation governing seafood imports.

UK exporters should check with the authorities in the EU Member State for any national requirements they need to comply with. Importers in the destination market are usually very knowledgeable of the import specifications in their country.

If you do not have a contact in the importing country, you should contact your local international trade office or visit great.gov.uk.

11. Are there specific requirements for exporting composite products containing seafood from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland?

Composite food products contain a mix of processed products of animal origin (POAO) and plant products (used as a main ingredient - not just added for flavouring or processing). More information about what constitutes a composite food product.

First, you need to determine whether your composite product is exempt from the requirement to enter the EU and/or Northern Ireland via a Border Control Post.

If your product is not exempt, you must:

If your product is exempt, you should:

    • nature, quantity and number of packages in the composite products
    • country of origin
    • manufacturer
    • ingredients

Composite products containing more than 20% fishery products or using tariff codes 1604 and 1605 may need a catch certificate.

Exempt species include some freshwater fish and aquaculture - check the list of exempt species (Annex I).

If the fish is imported from a third country and then stored or processed in the UK before it’s exported to the EU, you’ll need to show storage documents or processing statements as well as the original catch certificate used to import the fish into the UK.

For more information see question ‘36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’ further down this page. 

For further advice on exporting composite products see UK Government Guidance: ‘Export or move composite food products’ and ‘Exporting or moving fish from the UK

12. Can my vivier lorry obtain approved establishment status?

Generally speaking, transport operations do not require approval. However, a transport vehicle may be approved providing the vehicle in question carries out an approvable activity such as sorting, grading and packing. The vehicle must also meet the relevant requirements of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 853/2004

You should discuss your approval needs with your local authority.

13. Is my UK-flagged vessel eligible to supply fishery products for export to the EU?

Visit our ‘I catch or farm seafood’ guide.

14. How do I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for aquaculture purposes?

Visit our ‘I catch or farm seafood’ guide.

15. How do I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for direct human consumption?

Visit our ‘I catch or farm seafood’ guide.

Labelling

16. Which food business address should be labelled on pre-packaged seafood exported to the EU?

Pre-packed seafood exported to the EU must have an EU or Northern Ireland address on the packaging or food label.

If the food business under whose name the food is marketed in the EU is not established in the EU, then an address of the EU or Northern Ireland based importer must be labelled.

The name and address of the business operator under whose name the food is marketed is responsible for the product regardless of the actual producer. This could be the producer for a branded product or a retailer in the case of retailers’ own label product even though it is produced by another business.

Seafood produced in Great Britain and placed on the EU and Northern Ireland market must not be labelled as ’EU’ in origin.

More detail can be found in the government guidance ‘Food and drink labelling: giving food information to consumers’.

17. What is the format of the health and identification mark that should be applied to products exported to the EU?

Health and identification (ID) marks must be applied to certain food products of animal origin (POAO). Also known as hygiene approval numbers, they are required by EU law to be exhibited on products of animal origin to show that the food business responsible has met the relevant EU hygiene requirements and to allow the product to be traced back to the place of production.

Health marks are generally applied by vets to carcasses, so ID marks are of most relevance to seafood. ID marks however are often unofficially referred to as health marks.

The ID mark must contain the name of the country in which the exporting establishment is located (written in full or as the two-letter ISO code, which is ‘GB’ for the United Kingdom) and the approval number of the establishment. For seafood exported from GB to the EU, it is not mandatory that the ID mark be presented in an oval format.

An ID mark applied in a local authority approved establishment in Great Britain must not contain any reference to ‘EC’ or ‘EEC’. Products carrying the old EC ID marks will not be eligible for movement to the EU or Northern Ireland.

In circumstances where the final destination of the product is unknown, dual health marking is not permitted. See question '19. Can I apply two different health marks if I do not know the final destination of my product?’ for more information. 

You can also find more information and some example ID marks in this FSA guidance

18. If I moved my products into storage in the EU or Northern Ireland before the end of the transition period, do I need to re-label them with the new health/ID marks?

If your GB business placed seafood on the EU market (including products placed in storage in the EU) before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020, it will be allowed to reach its end user in the market it was placed, with the existing health and identification marks.

'Placing on the market', is defined as the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale, distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

Seafood placed on the market in the EU before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 can reach the end-user on the EU market without the need for re-labelling.

Seafood moved into the EU and Northern Ireland markets from Great Britain after 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 will require re-labelling to meet the new requirements.

Note Rewrapping or repacking of seafood must take place at an approved establishment. If rewrapping or repacking is undertaken in a different establishment to that of the original manufacturer, the appropriate mark with that establishment’s approval number must be displayed.

Seafood placed on the market in Northern Ireland before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020, can reach the end-user on either the UK or EU markets, without the need for re-labelling.

You may need to provide proof that the good entered the EU prior to the end of the transition period.

19. Can I apply two different health marks if I do not know the final destination of my product?

No, a product cannot display two health or identification marks.

In circumstances where the final destination of the product is unknown, one health mark must be displayed in order to comply with EU legislation.

20. Am I able to use existing stock carrying the old UK/EC health and identification mark?

It is advisable to use up old labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the old UK/EC health and ID mark as soon as possible to avoid any future difficulties.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has introduced a Statutory Instrument to allow products carrying the old UK/EC health and ID mark to be placed on the GB market only until 30 September 2022. It is not possible for GB exporters to use the old UK/EC mark on products destined for the EU.

To support businesses in adapting to the new requirements, a proportionate and risk-based enforcement approach to identification marking has been implemented in Northern Ireland.

More information can be found in this FSA guidance.

21. Can my products destined for the EU be labelled in English only?

Mandatory food information should be provided in “a language easily understood by the consumers of the Member States where the food is marketed”. Generally, this means food information should be provided in the official language(s) of the Member State of destination.

22. Are UK Geographical Indicators (GIs) protected in the EU?

All product names protected in the EU on 31 December 2020, following successful applications to the EU Geographical Indicator (GI) schemes, are protected under the UK and EU GI schemes.

The GI protection afforded to UK products in non-EU countries is assured in continuity or free trade agreements.

Any new UK products seeking EU GI protection needs to secure protection under UK schemes first.

More information on EU GI protection can be found in this EU advice.

Customs and Tariffs

23. How do I check the Commodity Code and/or tariff for my goods going to the EU?

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into force at 23:00 on 31 December 2020. The new agreement means that zero tariffs apply on seafood traded between the EU and the UK. For the preferential tariff rates to apply however, the seafood product must originate in either the UK or an EU Member State.

More information on what qualifies as ‘originating’ can be found in this Seafish guidance.

To access commodity code and tariff information for your exports to the EU, UK businesses are advised to use the EU’s Access2Markets tool.

If you are unsure which commodity code best fits your product, HMRC are best placed to offer the necessary advice. Contact details are provided in this government guidance.

24. Do I need an EORI number to trade with the EU?

In order to trade with the EU you may need two types of Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

GB EORI

A GB EORI number allows you to trade goods into or out of Great Britain. It allows you or your agent to submit the necessary customs declarations and to apply for customs simplification procedures. Your GB EORI number should start with ‘GB’ and be followed by 12 digits which will include your VAT number.

If you are a VAT registered GB business, HMRC automatically allocated you a GB EORI number in 2020. If you are not a VAT registered business or have not received a GB EORI number, contact HMRC to apply for one.

GB businesses should refer to government guidance on GB EORI numbers for the latest information.

EU EORI

UK businesses only need an EU EORI number if they are dealing directly with EU customs authorities. If your importer or customer in the EU deals with the EU customs authorities on your behalf, they need to have an EU EORI number.

EU EORI numbers must be applied for in the customs authority in the EU where you first conduct trade or request a customs decision from. Details on EU Member State customs authorities.

An EU EORI number is not required if you only move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

UK businesses should refer to EU guidance on EU EORI numbers for more information.

25. Do I need an EORI number to trade with Northern Ireland?

In order for GB businesses to trade with Northern Ireland you may need two types of Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

GB EORI

See question 24. Do I need an EORI number to trade with the EU?'

XI EORI

You need an EORI number that starts with XI to move goods between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries, to make a declaration in Northern Ireland, and to get a customs decision in Northern Ireland.

To get an EORI number that starts with XI, you must already have an EORI number that starts with GB. If you do not have one, check if you are eligible and apply.

If you had a GB EORI number at the end of 2020 and HMRC believed you needed an XI EORI number, you should have automatically received one. The XI EORI number will be the same as your GB EORI number but the prefix will be different (XI). If you do not have one, apply for one.

26. Do I have to pay customs duties on the seafood I move to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?

While Northern Ireland remains part of the customs territory of the UK, customs checks and controls apply to goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This ensures no customs checks or controls are required between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Whether you have to pay a duty, and how much that duty is, will depend on where you’re bringing the goods from and if they’re ‘at risk’ of onward movement to the EU.

Goods can be declared not ‘at risk’ if they are brought into Northern Ireland by a trader authorised under the UK Trader Scheme or where the applicable EU tariff is zero. EU tariffs apply to goods moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland which do not meet these criteria.

More information on ‘at risk’ goods can be found in this Government guidance.

27. How do I declare the seafood I move into Northern Ireland ‘not at risk’ of moving to the EU?

If you want to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ and the EU tariff rate on these goods is above zero, you must apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme.

To apply, you must meet one of the 2 establishment criteria. You must either:

  • be established in Northern Ireland, or
  • have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland and meet the additional requirements outlined

You must also meet:

  • customs compliance requirements
  • records, systems, controls and evidence requirements and meet the additional requirements

You can be authorised to declare goods ‘not at risk’ without having your own fixed address in Northern Ireland, if all of the following apply:

  • you do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland but your customs operations are carried out in the UK and you have an indirect customs representative in Northern Ireland (such as the Trader Support Service)
  • you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland which has a fixed place of business from where those goods are provided for, or sold to end consumers, and that business is either:
    • authorised under the UK Trader Scheme
    • could be authorised, if they were the importer of those goods

More information on the UK Trader Scheme can be found in this Government guidance.

28. How can the Trader Support Service (TSS) help to move my products from GB to Northern Ireland?

If you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK, the Trader Support Service (TSS) can complete customs declarations on your behalf.

The TSS is a free service that can support you through any changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It can help if you are moving the goods yourself or act on behalf of someone, especially if you don’t have experience in customs procedures.

Find out more information on the TSS

29. Should I use a Customs Broker, Agent or Freight Forwarder to help with customs procedures?

Most businesses use a customs broker/agent or freight forwarder to make customs declarations for them. This can make exporting simpler and faster and can reduce the risk of delays at the border.

It is possible to make your own customs declarations if you have the appropriate qualification and use approved software. Given the complexity of the process, this approach is generally better suited to the more experienced exporter but can be more cost effective than using an agent.

The UK Government has established the free Trader Support Service which can be used complete customs declarations on your behalf, when moving goods into Northern Ireland from GB or non-EU countries.

See question '28. How can the Trader Support Service (TSS) help me move my products from GB to Northern Ireland?’ for more information.

30. Do I need to agree Incoterms with my trading partners?

Incoterms define the responsibility of buyers and sellers in the delivery of goods and could be vital if you experience any issues at the EU border. Incoterms seek to avoid costly misunderstandings by clarifying the tasks, costs and risks involved in the delivery of goods from sellers to buyers.

Visit the great.gov.uk website for further information on international trade contracts and incoterms.

Export Documentation

31. What is an Export Health Certificate and do I need one for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?

An Export Health Certificate (EHC) is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.

You must include a completed EHC for all movements of seafood from GB to the EU and Northern Ireland. You may also need an EHC for each country that the consignment transits through (as well as an EHC for your final destination country).

Food approved fishing vessels that land seafood directly into the EU and/or Northern Ireland at a port designated by NEAFC and the EU will alternatively require a Captain’s Certificate.

If you move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU and/or Northern Ireland for aquaculture purposes, you will need an Export Animal Health Certificate (EAHCs) from the relevant competent authority. This is a different certificate to the EHC (for more information see our ‘I catch or farm seafood’ guide).

There are currently four different model EHCs for exports of seafood for human consumption to the EU and/or Northern Ireland. One additional EHCs will be made available shortly:

  • EHC 8361 - Live fish and fish products for human consumption (previously EHC 8270)
  • EHC 8361 - Live crustaceans and crustacean products for human consumption (previously EHC 8270)
  • EHC 8364 - Live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods, and products derived from these animals, for human consumption (previously EHC 8249 or EHC 8270)
  • EHC 8461- Re-export of Products of Animal Origin of European Union or Northern Ireland origin back to the European Union or Northern Ireland after storage in Great Britain
  • Aquatic animals intended for certain aquaculture establishments, for release into the wild, or for other purposes, excluding direct human consumption – Pending

Find out more information on these EHCs in this Seafish guide.

Businesses moving seafood to supermarkets in Northern Ireland under the Authorised Trader scheme are exempt from official certification, provided specific criteria, as set out in question 27 above, are met.

32. How do I get an Export Health Certificate for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?

‘EHC Online’ is a digital service which allows exporters and certifiers to apply for and certify Export Health Certificates (EHCs) remotely. The service allows exporters to apply online for the most frequently used EHCs.

To make an application via EHC Online:

  1. Exporters should follow a two-step registration process for the EHC Online service; the first requires a Government Gateway account, and the second a Defra-specific account – both of which can be set up online.
  2. Your Certifying Officer must also be registered on the EHC Online system, so check that they have also signed up. If you have not chosen a Certifying Officer, speak to your local authority’s environmental health team. You should inform them if you are planning to export fishery products to the EU, and check that they are registered on EHC Online.

You should check whether your Certifying Officer intends to inspect your consignment in person or use the Risk Based Fish Export Certification approach. Exporters of perishable fishery products should contact their Certifying Officer to discuss specific needs.

You should check that your Certifying Officer is able to inspect your consignment and sign your EHC in the days before you want to export.

  1. Log into EHC Online via the UK Government’s Form Finder tool or via your Defra account.
  2. Select ‘Start a new application’ on the Exporter Dashboard or clone a previous application.
  3. Complete the required steps and submit your application.
  4. Once APHA has approved your EHC application, they will let your Certifying Officer know when your EHC is ready:
  • 7 working days before your export date
  • within one working day of receiving it, if you plan to export in the next 7 working days

You will be able to see when APHA has sent your certificate to your Certifying Officer on the system.

  1. The Certifying Officer may then inspect your export to check it meets the health requirements of the destination country. If your consignment is considered compliant, they will then complete, sign and give the EHC to you. They will also send a copy to APHA.

The EHC must travel with your animal products to the export destination.

Local Authorities may charge a fee to the exporter for the required certification.

More information on accessing EHC Online for exporters is available on Gov.uk.

Additional information on the Risk Based Fish Export Certification (RBFEC) is available on the Defra website.

Below are direct links to EHC online registration and application pages:

EHC Online: register for Government Gateway and your Defra account

EHC Online: apply for an export health certificate for the EU

33. Are there other ways I can obtain an Export Health Certificate?

For frequent and regular consignments to the same country, exporters can apply for blocks of up to 50 Export Health Certificates (EHCs) to be held by local authorities (LAs) or Official Veterinarians (OVs) ready for export. Issuing 'blocks' of serially numbered EHCs to LAs/OVs in advance will help when certificates are required at pace.

Block certificates can be requested via the EHC Online service by indicating the number of certificates required on the relevant application (see question 32. How do I get an Export Health Certificate for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?).

Official Veterinarian

An official veterinarian may be able to sign your export health certificate, instead of a local authority Certifying Officer. Check the list of commercial vets who can sign EHCs.

Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme

The Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme (GEFS) is a membership scheme for exporters of certain products of animal origin, packaged for the final consumer and come from stable supply chains. It enables the use of time limited (30 day) Support Attestations to facilitate export health certification for groupage exports from Great Britain to, or for transit through, the EU and (where export health certification is required) Northern Ireland.

GEFS does not change the requirement for seafood to be exported with an Export Health Certificate (EHC), or for that EHC to relate to the specific consignment being exported.

Support Attestations provide information from supplier/manufacturing establishments, which are approved (usually under EU regulations (Regulation (EU) No 853/2004)), to the Certifying Officer signing the EHC at the exporting premises. Usually this Certifying Officer would be an Official Veterinarian. In some cases though the officer may be a Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO) from your local authority environmental health team.

The Support Attestation is agreed following an initial inspection of the supplier premises and relevant documentary evidence by either a registered vet or, in some cases, a FCCO. Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO).

FCCOs can agree Support Attestations for products where they could sign the final EHC for export to the EU (such as for fishery products), or where they are otherwise permitted to do so by the RCVS Principles of Certification. The Support Attestation will also need to be signed by a representative of the supplier and will usually be valid for 30 days from the date of inspection.

Example: an exporter may group several supplier consignments into a single export consignment. The Certifying Officer would use the Support Attestations provided by each of the exporter’s suppliers and their personal knowledge to check and certify the consolidated consignment.

Further details, can be found on the Gov.UK website and in this Defra guidance document.

Logistics Hubs

Logistics hubs can facilitate the consolidation of goods under one Export Health Certificate and can be particularly valuable to seafood exporters in rural locations or areas with limited Certifying Officers.

There are currently four logistics hubs in Great Britain:

  1. DFDS- Larkhall
  2. Mesguen- Harthill
  3. JDot/O’Toole- Bellshill
  4. DFDS- Grimsby

Whilst there is no single organisation responsible for the establishment of logistics hubs, further guidance can be found in the Export Health Certification for Products of Animal Origin Away from the Premises of Origin document.

34. What language should my EHC be in?

Export Health Certificates (EHCs) should be presented in English, the language at the port of entry into the EU and the language of the destination. It is not necessary to include the language of any countries through which the consignment passes.

A translation of the EHC may be required upon entry at an EU Border Control Post (BCP) and at the EU Member State of destination. If you include export destination details in the application form, APHA will complete the translations for you, and send them to your Certifying Officer. If you don’t know the destination when you apply, you or your Certifying Officer may be responsible for preparing the translations.

35. What is the Movement Assistance Scheme?

There are new requirements for moving seafood from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to Northern Ireland.

The Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS) means that businesses moving seafood products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland do not need to pay to have them inspected and certified. Instead, official veterinarians and other certifiers will invoice the government to cover the cost of the certification and the support attestation process.

36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?

The Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) ‘Fish Export Service’ provides an online system for creating UK catch certificates, processing statements and storage documents.

Access The ‘Fish Export Service’.

There are different rules for Northern Ireland.

Catch Certificate:

Exporters from England, Scotland and Wales are required to obtain a validated catch certificate for every export of most fish and fishery products to the EU and/or Northern Ireland.

The catch certificate shows that the fish was caught legally, and it is the responsibility of the exporter to ensure that a catch certificate is completed at the point of export. The catch certificate is not required to physically accompany the consignment.

To create a catch certificate, you need:

  • a Government Gateway user ID and password
  • the company name and address of the exporter
  • the name of the person responsible for the export
  • the species (or FAO code), its state and its presentation
  • the EU tariff commodity code for each product
  • the names or PLNs of the vessels that caught the species, and the landing dates
  • the export weights of each product
  • to say whose waters the species were caught in
  • transport details for how the export will leave the UK and where it will leave from
  • the identification numbers of the containers used to export the product

You do not need a catch certificate to export:

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


You must send the validated catch certificate to the EU importer so that they can provide 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

Access UK Government Guidance ‘Create a UK Catch Certificate’ for more information.

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

The Multiple Vessel Scheduled (MVS)

To apply for a UK catch certificate, the exporter will be required to enter a breakdown of each vessel that caught the fish comprising a single consignment. It is understood that this is a legal requirement as set out in Article 12(2) and 12(3) and Annex II of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008.

The Multiple Vessel Schedule can be completed and submitted alongside your catch certificate application on the Fish Export Service. The details required for each vessel will include the vessel name(s), PLN, fish species, product and weight (by date of landing for each vessel). The MMO’s Fish Exports Helpline can support you through the MVS process. Telephone: 0330 159 1989 

Storage Document:

If you are exporting to the EU and/or Northern Ireland fish sourced from another country that has been stored in the England, Scotland or Wales for more than 12 hours, but not processed in any way, you’ll need to apply for a storage document.

You must include a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the storage document.

Access UK Government guidance to ‘Create a UK storage document’ for more information.

Processing Statement:

If you’re sending consignments to the EU and/or Northern Ireland containing fish sourced from another country that has been processed in the England, Scotland or Wales, you’ll need to apply for a processing statement.

If the consignment has used more than one processing plant in GB, you’ll need a separate processing statement for each plant.

You must include a copy of the catch certificate from the original consignment with the processing statement.

Access UK Government Guidance ‘Create a UK processing statement’ for more information.

37. Can I re-export EU originating seafood back to the EU without the original catch certificate?

If you imported seafood into the UK from the EU before the end of the transition period, it is likely that you may not have the original EU catch certificate. This means you will not have the required catch certificate documentation to re-export goods containing this seafood, back to the EU.

As the seafood was not caught by a UK-flagged vessel, you cannot create a UK catch certificate for the EU originating raw material. You will however need a UK processing statement or storage document (see question ‘36. How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU and/or Northern Ireland?’).

Where obtaining retrospective catch certification from your EU supplier is not possible, you may need to provide proof that the seafood was purchased before the end of the transition period. As a result, the EU Border Control Post (BCP) may request copies of the vessel’s PNO, sales notes or Bills of Lading as proof. You should contact your EU BCP to verify their specific requirements.

Trade Policy

38. Does the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement include EEA/EFTA countries?

No. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland trade with the EU under a separate agreement.

The UK concluded its own free trade agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on 8 July 2021. The UK also concluded a free trade agreement with Switzerland and with Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands in February 2019.

Find out which trade agreements the UK is negotiating and which trade agreements the UK has already signed.

39. Can I import seafood from another country then re-export it to a non-EU country?

If you import seafood from outside of the UK and do not carry out any processing, packing or wrapping on the goods in the UK, before you export them to a non-EU country, you may wish to check the terms of the Export Health Certificate (EHC) for the destination country.

Some of the UK’s EHCs for non-EU countries contain an attestation that the seafood being certified for export derives from an establishment approved by the UK competent authority. If no processing, packing or wrapping is carried out on the imported seafood once it has arrived in the UK, the products cannot be said to derive from a UK approved establishment. Therefore, the Certifying Officer may be unable to sign the EHC.

In general, UK goods seeking to enter a non-EU country under a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will have to prove that they are from the UK in accordance with the Rules of Origin agreed in the FTA. If the UK has negotiated a FTA with your destination country, it is recommended that you check the Rules of Origin in the agreement.

A list of Free Trade Agreements currently in effect with non-EU counties.

40. Can I benefit from the EU’s Free Trade Agreements with other non-EU countries?

No, the UK is no longer a party to these agreements. The UK has however sought to reproduce the effects of EU agreements in its trade negotiations with other countries.

Find out about the trade agreements the UK has concluded and the progress of discussions with other countries.

Where the UK has not negotiated a free trade agreement with another World Trade Organization (WTO) member, trade takes place on WTO terms.

41. Can products made before the end of the transition period and stored in warehouses be sold legally in the EU?

Foods placed on the EU market before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 can continue to be circulated throughout the EU.

'Placing on the market', is defined as the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale, distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

In order to circulate goods around the EU freely, you will need to prove they were ‘placed on the market’ in the EU before this time.

Goods placed in storage in Northern Ireland before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 have free circulation within the UK and EU single market.

42. How do I report a barrier to trade with another country?

If you become aware of a barrier to trade with another country, you can report the issue for resolution on the report a trade barrier portal.