As of the 1st of January 2021, new trading regulations came into effect that impacted all exports from the UK to the EU, and all imports from the EU into the UK. Although there is a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU, there are now additional documentary requirements to support the movement of goods and agricultural products; the main ones being:

  • More detailed Commercial Invoices.
  • Export Health Certificates.
  • In certain cases, Import Licences.

You will also need to file customs declarations.

Read tips on how importers and exporters can ensure they meet new regulations and documentation requirements into the future.

You may find IncoDocs' "How to Create a Packing List Document Template for Brexit" of interest.

A commercial invoice has always been required for shipments that travel outside the EU and is used as a customs declaration from the person or business that is exporting the item(s). Shipments to EU countries also now require a full commercial invoice. There is specific information that is required in the document (such as the HS code) so get up to speed on creating commercial invoices now! Full details from the UK Government are available here.

An export health certificate (EHC) is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.

You must apply for an EHC if you’re exporting or moving live animals or animal products from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to, or through:

  • the EU
  • non-EU countries
  • Northern Ireland

You’ll also need a transit EHC to transit through an EU country.

You may need a transit EHC to transit through a non-EU country. Check with the competent authority (the equivalent of Defra) in that country.

If you do need a transit certificate, apply for an EHC in the usual way.

You’ll need an EHC for each:

  • type of animal or animal product you’re exporting from Great Britain
  • product type - if you’re exporting a consignment which includes a mix of products.

If you’re moving live animals or animal products to Northern Ireland, you do not need to pay for them to be inspected and certified. The certifier invoices the government for these costs as part of the Movement Assistance Scheme.

Exporting from Northern Ireland to the EU and non-EU countries

You need an EHC to export live animals and animal products from Northern Ireland to non EU countries.

You do not need an EHC to export to the EU.

Contact DAERA on 02877 442 060 to find out what you need to do.

How to apply

You should:

Make sure you contact the official vet (OV) or inspector who will certify your EHC before you submit any applications.

If you cannot find the EHC you need, contact APHA.

Certain goods require the importer to obtain a licence or certificate from various UK government departments. This includes animals, plants, agricultural products, medicines, chemicals and weapons.

Imports into the UK

The OGIL (Open General Import Licence) is a national trade control measure run by the Department for International Trade (DIT) that allows the import of all goods into the UK, subject to the exceptions it sets out.

Goods subject to import controls under the OGIL include:

  • firearms
  • anti-personnel mines
  • certain nuclear and chemical goods

Read Open General Import Licence - December 2020 for more information.

Exports to the EU

You need a special licence to import or export certain goods (e.g. waste, certain hazardous chemicals, GMOs). You need to comply with additional formalities if importing or exporting excise goods (alcohol, tobacco, or fuel) to/from Great Britain.

For more detailed information see the EU's EU-UK: A new relationship.