Moving food and animal feed from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)


Last updated 20 February 2024

Qualifying Northern Ireland goods

From 20 February 2024, only food and animal feed dispatched from a registered or approved food or feed establishment in Northern Ireland will be ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’. These goods will continue to have unfettered access to Great Britain and can move from Northern Ireland to Great Britain without SPS controls.

Qualifying Northern Ireland goods can move with unfettered access into Great Britain directly from Northern Ireland, or indirectly through Ireland.

Find guidance on moving qualifying Northern Ireland goods in relation to customs procedures.

Registered or approved establishments in Northern Ireland

The establishment is the location or site of the food or animal feed business in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland food establishments need to be registered with their District Council or be approved by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Northern Ireland animal feed business establishments need to be registered or approved by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The Northern Ireland food or feed business moving qualifying Northern Ireland goods is responsible for the consignment and the safety of the food or animal feed that is being moved to Great Britain. If the relevant competent authority asks, the business must be able to show that the consignment is under its control.

Evidence that the goods will need

You or the person moving the goods may be asked to show evidence that the goods are qualifying Northern Ireland goods. You can use the commercial documents that would normally come with the consignment to show the registration or approval number of the Northern Ireland establishment. For example, you can use a dispatch note, consignment note or invoice.  If your establishment is registered but you do not know your registration number, contact your district council or DAERA.

Find out what commercial documentation you may need for customs purposes when moving qualifying Northern Ireland goods.

Journeys starting outside the United Kingdom

If the goods came from outside Northern Ireland to a Northern Ireland establishment for manufacture, processing, storage or handling, the commercial documentation must show this journey. This is to show that the goods have been dispatched from the Northern Ireland establishment for their journey to Great Britain.

If the relevant competent authority asks, you need to show that the Northern Ireland food or feed business has full control of the goods when they are dispatched from that establishment. You can do this through a commercial document, such as a dispatch note, consignment note or invoice.

If a Northern Ireland establishment gets a consignment from a non-UK establishment that is not part of the same parent company, the Northern Ireland food or feed business will need to physically check and record the goods when they arrive, before dispatching them. You will still need to keep internal processes that make sure the goods meet the relevant food and animal feed laws. 

A Northern Ireland establishment may receive a consignment from a non-UK establishment that is under the same parent company.  The Northern Ireland business needs to make sure the goods meet the required standards and take responsibility for the goods. For example, you can apply seals that are recorded on the commercial documentation and checked on arrival at the Northern Ireland establishment. You can also use other methods that provide the necessary assurance to the competent authority.

Only goods that have been loaded in Northern Ireland can move through ports in Ireland as qualifying goods.

Groupage and mixed loads

Food and feed can be moved to Great Britain as qualifying Northern Ireland goods as part of groupage. The same requirements apply:

  • the point of dispatch to Great Britain must be a Northern Ireland registered or approved food or animal feed establishment
  • commercial documentation accompanying the load must show that the goods were at the Northern Ireland establishment and under its control when they were dispatched
  • specify the food or animal feed business who is responsible for the goods when they were dispatched

The trader or haulier should indicate which individual consignments within a groupage load are moving as qualifying Northern Ireland goods. This will help if a consignment of qualifying and non-qualifying Northern Ireland goods is being transported on the same means of transport and the non-qualifying Northern Ireland goods are selected for border checks.


Goods that are moved into Northern Ireland where the main purpose, or one of the main purposes, is to have the status of qualifying Northern Ireland goods are not qualifying Northern Ireland goods. For example, if they are moved to Northern Ireland to avoid sanitary and phytosanitary import controls. They will not be able to have unfettered access and will face full customs and SPS controls when moved into Great Britain.