Import or move composite products from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain


Last updated 16 September 2021

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) importing or moving composite products from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain from 1 January 2022.

Composite products contain both of the following:

  • processed products of animal origin (POAO) for human consumption
  • plant products as a main ingredient - not just added for flavouring or processing

Examples of composite products include:

  • lasagne
  • pork pies
  • pepperoni pizza
  • cream liqueurs
  • chicken burritos

Plant-based products with no POAO content are not composite products

You need to follow guidance on importing or moving food and drink from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain if your product:

  • is unprocessed POAO - for example, fresh chicken
  • contains small amounts of plant-based products added for processing or to give extra flavour - examples include yoghurts with added fruit, or cheese with herbs
  • contains several types of POAO but does not meet the composite product definition

You need to follow different rules if you’re importing animal products not for human consumption, such as pet food.

Product standards for composite products imported from the EU to Great Britain
Your composite product must meet certain standards to be imported from the EU to Great Britain.

Products that contain processed meat or a minimum of 50% milk, dairy, egg or fishery products
The meat, milk, dairy, egg or fish component that makes up 50% or more of your product must come from either of the following that are approved to export to Great Britain:

  • EU country
  • business in that country (this does not apply to wild-caught fish)

You may need a catch certificate and processing statement or storage document if your product:

  • contains 20% or more marine-caught fish or fishery products
  • will be imported using tariff codes 1604 or 1605

Products made with honey, gelatine or snails
Imports of products made with honey, gelatine or snails must come from an approved country.

They do not need to be:

  • processed at a business approved by Great Britain
  • heat-treated in line with Great Britain rules

If 50% or more of the content of the product you import is made with honey, gelatine or snails, the EU exporter may need to give you a:

  • health certificate for the individual product - the honey, gelatine or snails
  • composite health certificate if the product also contains meat, fish, dairy or eggs

If the product contains less than 50% of honey, gelatine or snails the product may be exempt. See below on composite products exempt from controls. 

Residue plans
Some countries must have residue plans for certain products they export (for example, meat, dairy, eggs, fish and honey). You should check with your EU exporter if there’s a residue plan for the components in the product you’re importing.

You will not be able to import if the country you’re importing from does not have a residue plan.

Pre-notify Great Britain enforcement authorities about your composite product import from 1 January 2022

You must submit an import notification in IPAFFS to pre-notify the enforcement authority in Great Britain about your composite product import from 1 January 2022 unless it’s exempt.

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, Lichtenstein, San Marino, Faroes or Greenland

To add the approved business:

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

Check what documents you need from 1 July 2022
You’ll need one or all of the following documents to import composite products from 1 July 2022:

  • health certificate (see below)
  • commercial document (see below)

Composite products do not need to go through any plant health controls and so do not need a phytosanitary certificate.

Health certificates
Most composite products will need a health certificate from 1 July 2022 if they’re:

  • being imported from the EU to Great Britain
  • transiting through Great Britain to the EU or non-EU countries

The EU exporter must:

The original certificate (not a copy) must travel with the consignment.

Some composite products are exempt and do not need a health certificate. See below on composite products exempt from controls. If your product is exempt you’ll need a commercial document - see below.

Composite products that contain dairy products made from unpasteurised milk (for example, a cooked ready meal topped with unpasteurised cheese) cannot be imported using a composite health certificate.

The EU exporter should check with the certifying officer which health certificates they need to apply for.

A list of composite products subject to controls is in Annex 1 of import information note CP/1

Health certificates for moves from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
You do not need a health certificate to move composite food products from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

Commercial document
You need a commercial document to import your composite product if:

  • it’s an exempt product (see below on composite products exempt from controls)
  • the EU exporter says you need one

The EU exporter must complete the document.

The commercial document must include:

  • details of what’s in the consignment
  • the name of the person who sent it
  • the name of the person it’s being sent to

The commercial document or product labelling must also state:

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

The commercial document must travel with the consignment.

Import your composite product through a Great Britain BCP from 1 July 2022

You must get your composite products checked at a Great Britain border control post (BCP) unless your product is exempt from 1 July 2022.

These checks are made to protect:

  • animal health and welfare
  • public health

Composite products exempt from controls
Some composite products are exempt from import controls. Exempt products do not need:

  • a health certificate - they need a commercial document instead (see above on commercial document)
  • to be pre-notified
  • to enter Great Britain through a BCP - they can enter through any point of entry

Products are exempt if all of the following apply, and they’re:

  • heat-treated - this means the product is shelf-stable at ambient temperature or has undergone complete cooking or heat treatment during manufacture so that any raw product is denatured
  • made without processed meat, meat extracts or powders
  • made with less than 50% of any other processed POAO (any dairy must come from an approved country and have undergone the correct heat treatment for that country)
  • labelled for human consumption
  • securely packaged or sealed in clean containers

Other exempt products are:

  • confectionery (including sweets) and chocolate that is heat-treated and contains less than 50% of processed dairy and egg products
  • pasta and noodles not mixed or filled with processed meat product, that have been heat-treated and contain less than 50% of processed dairy and egg products
  • bread, cakes, biscuits, waffles and wafers, rusks, toasted bread and similar toasted products that are heat-treated and contain less than 20% of processed dairy and egg products
  • olives stuffed with fish
  • soup stocks and flavourings packaged for the final consumer that are heat-treated and contain less than 50% of fish oils, fish powders or fish extracts
  • food supplements packaged for the final consumer that contains less than 20% in total of processed animal products (including glucosamine, chondroitin or chitosan) other than meat products

A list of exempt composite products is in Annex 2 of the import information note CP/1.

The following regulations give more information about composite products, including definitions:

First published 26 May 2021