Import and export food and drink products

Regulations for food and drink exports


Regulations, charges or other restrictions may apply to food and drink exports as they leave the UK and when they arrive at their destination country. It is important that you research both sides of the transaction.

Many food and agricultural products exported outside the European Union (EU) may also be entitled to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) refunds. For more information, see importing CAP goods and exporting goods outside the EU.

Classifying your goods

First, you need to classify your goods using the Trade Tariff tool. Use of standardised classification codes makes it easier to check if any restrictions or charges apply.

Remember that in general it is much simpler to export to other EU countries than to countries outside the EU. This is because the goods are in free circulation within the EU, which is a single market and the UK is in a Customs Union so you can export to other EU countries without restriction (although some local charges may still apply).

Certain third countries will require food and drink exports to be certified by a UK government authority before being exported. 

See exports of food and drink.

Specific food and drink regulations

For details of rules and controls that relate specifically to exports of food and drink, see export regulations for tobacco, alcohol, fruit and vegetables.

Exporting goods for processing

You may be able to obtain relief from customs duties when you re-import from third countries EU goods that have previously been exported from the EU for processing. Outward processing relief (OPR) procedure enables you to claim relief from customs duty if you can show that the exported goods were used in - or incorporated into - the products being imported.

Exporting food to the USA

If you exporting to the USA, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 will apply.

If you export organic products to the USA, you need to be able to demonstrate that the products have been produced to their National Organic Program.

You'll also need to comply with other food and hygiene regulations.