News article

Brexit: How the food and drink sector can prepare

21 February 2019

Actions food and drink businesses can take to prepare for a no-deal Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal there will be changes that affect your food and drink business. Find out what you need to do to prepare.

Preparing for changes to trade at the UK-EU border
To minimise disruption to your business at border points you should take the following steps:

If you don’t import and export products directly check that any agent or business you use is prepared.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal.

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.

Importing animals and animal products
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the way you notify UK authorities of these imports will change.

You’ll no longer be able to use the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) to notify the UK authorities about an import. There will be a new system to replace this, launching in March 2019.

If you import live animals or animal products, fish, shellfish or fish products from non-EU (third) countries directly or transiting through the EU, your consignment will need to be checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).

If you import high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from non-EU (third) countries, directly or transiting through the EU, it will need to enter the UK via a Designated Point of Entry (DPE).

Read the guidance on importing high-risk food and feed not of animal origin and importing and exporting live animals and animal products.

Exporting animals and animal products
If you export animals, animal products, fish and fishery products from the UK to the EU, you’ll need to follow a new process if the UK leaves the EU without a deal:

  • You must complete an Export Health Certificates (EHC). EHCs must be signed by an authorised signatory (for example, an official veterinarian) following the consignments inspection.
  • You’ll also need a catch certificate for most exports of fish or fish products.
  • The consignment must enter the EU via a Border Inspection Post (BIP) within the EU. You’ll need to consider if your current trade routes could be affected. There is not currently a BIP at Calais, although French authorities expect these to be operational by the end of March 2019. See a list of EU BIPs .
  • You must follow the EU’s customs processes for third countries.

The UK has applied for third country status and the UK government is confident that the UK meets the animal health requirements for products of animal origin (POAO) exports listing

For more information, see importing and exporting live animals and animal products.

Importing and exporting plants and plant products
There are some changes to regulations for the plant trade that will affect you if you import or export plants and plant products (for example, certain vegetables, seeds and fruit).

For details, see Brexit: Importing plants and plant products and Brexit: Exporting plants and plant products to the EU.

Food labelling
There will be changes to food labelling and organic food trade. For more information on these areas, see:

Employing EU workers
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU citizens who are resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status, which will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.

The scheme will be open to applications from 30 March 2019 and EU workers must apply by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You can use the EU Settlement Scheme guidance for employers to give further information to your employees.

See Brexit support for employers

Applying for skilled-work or unskilled-work visas

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be a new process for EU citizens arriving in the UK before 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, a new skills-based immigration system will launch.

For non-EU nationals, EU Exit will not affect the application process for work visas.

Chemical regulations
If your business uses chemicals, you should take the following steps to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal:

You should check contingency plans across your supply chain to find out what information you need to supply to UK agencies, logistics providers, suppliers and customers.

Trade agreements
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no implementation period. In this scenario, the government will seek to bring into force UK-third country agreements from exit day, or as soon as possible afterwards.

These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Where replacement trade agreements are not agreed, trade would take place on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms with that country. Details of each agreement will be shared with parliament and the public when they have been agreed.

Read the guidance on existing free trade agreements if there’s no Brexit deal.

See trade support for Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal, the UK would implement a temporary tariff regime. This would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation, and review on a permanent approach, is undertaken.

Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports would be tariff-free.

In certain sectors, tariffs would be maintained to support the most sensitive agricultural industries, the automotive sector, vulnerable industries exposed to unfair global competition, and to maintain the UK government’s commitment to developing countries.

Read the guidance on temporary rates of customs duty on imports if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Data protection
Your business will need to make sure it follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal. For more information see Brexit: Data protection after 29 March.

More information
Visit Prepare for EU Exit to find more guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and sign up for updates.

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