Import food and drink from the EU to Great Britain


Last updated 31 January 2024

Food and drink from the EU is categorised into high, medium and low risk categories under the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).  

To import food and drink from the EU, you’ll need to:

  • notify authorities in Great Britain
  • check what documents you need 

Read more about importing food and drink under the Border Target Operating Model.

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) that import or move food and drink from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain. This includes food and drink under safeguard measures. 

It also applies to goods imported for commercial purposes by post or courier. Contact your post or courier service for more information about the process.

‘Food and drink’ in this guidance specifically means food and drink products of animal origin (POAO) for human consumption. Examples include: 

  • meat 
  • eggs 
  • dairy 
  • honey 
  • gelatine 

You need to follow different guidance to import or move: 

POAO involved in a disease outbreak or public health issue are banned or have import restrictions. Importers must follow the guidance for POAO under safeguard measures.

Check what documents you need 

For high and medium BTOM risk imports, you’ll need to get a health certificate from the EU exporter if one is available. You may need an official importer declaration for certain products – the health certificate will tell you when you need one. You may also need an import licence or authorisation.  

For low BTOM risk imports, you’ll need a commercial document. You may also need an import licence or authorisation.

You should contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) if you’re moving POAO under safeguard measures from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

Health certificates 

The EU exporter must apply for the GB health certificate in their own country. Competent authorities should use model health certificates to create versions that exporters can apply for.

If the exporter creates a GB health certificate using a system approved to produce verifiable PDF certificates, they do not need to send the original health certificate with the consignment. They must send you the official, verifiable PDF certificate once it has been signed by the competent authority. Use this for your import notification in the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS)

If the exporter does not use a system approved to produce verifiable PDF certificates, the competent authority must send the original paper GB health certificate with the consignment and send you an electronic copy to attach to your import notification in IPAFFS.

If there’s no health certificate for your product you may need an import licence or authorisation.  

Import licences 

You may need an import licence or authorisation to import your food and drink product from the EU if there’s no health certificate for your product. 

In some cases, you may need an import licence as well as a health certificate. 

Check the list of general licences to see if the licence you need already exists, and what you should do if it’s not on the list. 

Commercial documents 

Low BTOM risk imports of poao must have a commercial document. Your exporter must complete this.

The commercial document must include the: 

  • description of what’s in the consignment, for example ‘cooked meat’, and volume or quantity information, or a copy of the food label 
  • name of the person or organisation who sent it 
  • name of the person or organisation it’s being sent to 
  • address of the premises of origin 
  • address of the destination premises 
  • reference identifying the lot, batch or consignment 
  • date the consignment was sent 
  • name and address of the transporter and details on how the consignment will be transported 

The document must travel with the consignment.

Notify authorities in Great Britain 

You must submit an import notification on IPAFFS to notify authorities in Great Britain about your import of POAO from the EU. This is also known as a common health entry document (CHED).

You must do this at least one working day before the POAO is expected to arrive at the point of entry. 

When you submit your import notification in IPAFFS, you’ll get a notification reference number, sometimes called a unique notification number (UNN) for the product. The format of this number will be CHEDP.GB.YYYY.XXXXXXX. 

Add information about the business you’re importing from 

You need to add information to IPAFFS about the business you’re importing from, if it’s coming from: 

  • the EU 
  • Iceland 
  • Norway 
  • Switzerland 
  • Liechtenstein 
  • San Marino 
  • Faroes  
  • Greenland 

Follow these steps to add the approved business: 

  1. Sign in or register to use IPAFFS
  2. On the ‘Traders addresses’ page, select ‘Add a place of origin’, then select ‘Create a new place of origin’. 
  3. In the ‘Place of origin name’ field, enter the full name of the exporting business, then its authorisation number. 
  4. In the ‘Place of origin’ fields, enter the full address, telephone number, country and email address for the business. 
  5. Save these details – they will be saved to your address book so that you can use them again. 
  6. Add the approved business to your import notification. 

Import notifications if there’s a new or emerging disease outbreak 

If safeguard measures are in place because of a new or emerging disease and there is no commodity code for your food or drink, you should: 

  1. Download and fill in the import notification form for POAO under safeguard measures. Email it to the APHA imports team at Use the email subject: ‘URGENT – POAO SAFEGUARDING UNN REQUIRED’. 

  2. APHA will give you a UNN. Give this to the EU exporter or OV to add to the health certificate. 
  3. The EU exporter will give you an electronic copy of the health certificate. 
  4. Email the completed form and health certificate to APHA at Include the UNN in the email subject heading. For example: ‘IMPORT NOTIFICATION – POAO UNDER SAFEGUARD MEASURES IMP.GB.2021.2000001’. 
  5. APHA will email you an updated form with the UNN and the health certificate. 

If you need help with import notifications 

You can call the APHA helpline on 03300 416 999, or email

Documentary checks on medium risk goods 

Random documentary checks on medium BTOM risk animal products from the EU, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein will be introduced between January and April 2024. Goods subject to these checks will not be held for inspection or charged extra fees.

Movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain 

You can move POAO from Northern Ireland to Great Britain if they’re qualifying Northern Ireland goods.

Import food and drink from 30 April 2024 

From 30 April 2024, new checks at the border on medium BTOM risk goods from the EU will be introduced. All medium and low BTOM risk goods must enter via a point of entry that has the relevant border control post.  

If you need help 

Contact APHA’s imports team if you’re not sure about anything. 

If you need help with your customs declaration 

Contact HMRC for help.

First published 16 June 2021