Working with the Port Health Authorities

Rejection of import consignments by port health authorities and appeal procedures


If you're importing controlled food or feed products required to enter the country through a Border Control Post (BCP) or a designated port and you fail to provide notification, you'll be considered to have smuggled the goods. As a result you may lose your consignment and not receive compensation. You could also face prosecution.

Failure to meet import conditions

The certifying officer has the final decision on whether your consignment meets the import conditions set out in law. Initially you or your agent will be advised informally of the officer's findings and consulted on the options that are available to you.

You may then be served a legal notice. This will state the reasons for rejection and the actions that you may take in respect of the consignment, including:

  • re-export
  • destruction
  • remedial action or use of the consignment for another purpose in some permitted cases

Port health authorities will inform inspection bodies in the UK and the rest of Europe of their findings and the action taken using the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed System (RASFF).

Find out more about overseas veterinary certificates and Border Inspection Posts.

Re-exporting rejected consignments

This course of action is only taken if the consignment poses no risk to public or animal health. All relevant documentation and certification will be marked as invalid. The consignment must be re-dispatched outside the European Union from the same port within 60 days of the notice being served.

Destroying rejected consignments

This takes place at an approved disposal facility. For most products incineration is the only solution due to the high health risks involved. You will need to cover all of the costs.

Appealing against action taken by a port health authority

Initially you should discuss any concerns you may have with the enforcement officer directly. However, if a notice has been formally served, you have the right to appeal against the decision. You should lodge your appeal at a magistrate's court within one month of the notice being served. If your appeal fails you may take your complaint to the Crown Court.

For certain notices in respect of products of animal origin (POAO), the only method of appeal is through Judicial Review. These are exceptional cases and they can be costly. Contact your legal adviser if you intend to commence proceedings.