4 February 2020
Actions food and drink businesses can take to prepare for 1 January 2021
There will be changes that affect your food and drink business after the transition period. Find out what you need to do to prepare.
Importing and exporting
To continue importing and exporting products between the UK and EU you must:
- get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number
- decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself
- contact the organisation that moves your goods to find out what they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself
Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading from 1 January 2021.
Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.
The way you access existing favourable arrangements with non-EU countries may change.
Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.
Preparing to move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland
Goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will have different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade.
The UK will implement a temporary tariff regime for up to 12 months.
Most UK imports would be tariff-free, but in certain sectors, such as agriculture, tariffs would be maintained.
Animals, animal products and high risk feed
The way you import and notify the UK authorities of these imports will change.
You’ll need to follow new processes to export the following from January 2021:
Importing and exporting plants and plant products
Plants and plant products (for example, certain vegetables, seeds and fruit) currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls.
There is a new import process you must follow and new rules for exports.
Read the guidance on importing and exporting plants and plant products after 1 January 2021 and plant health controls.
There will be changes to food labelling and organic food trade. For more information on these areas, see food labelling changes from 1 January 2021.
Products that may be subject to changes include:
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 for which there is general guidance.
Mutual recognition is a principle of EU law. EU and EEA member states must allow goods to be marketed in their own territory, if they are legally marketed in another EU member state. For example, Spain has rules on table olives but accepts table olives from other member states that do not meet these rules, which currently includes the UK.
The mutual recognition principle will not apply to the UK after 1 January 2021. 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 would need to comply with the Spanish regulation on table olives.
There is guidance about Trading under the mutual recognition principle from 1 January 2021.
There is also a list of product contact points to provide information about national rules.
National standards for non-harmonised products may vary between different EU/EEA countries. However 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.
To prepare, individuals and businesses will need to:
- consider how they are affected if they trade in food products and export to the EU
- meet the requirements of the first country in which they intend to place food products on the EU market
Find out how to place manufactured goods on the EU market from 1 January 2021.
There are certain schemes and processes you should be aware of if you employ people.
If your business uses chemicals, you should take the following steps to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal:
- visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website for information on how each of the chemicals regimes will be affected
- read the UK REACH guidance for actions for businesses using chemicals.
- You can see actions for different types of businesses in the HSE’s scenario summary table
Visit the transition period to find more guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and sign up for updates.