5 things the food sector needs to know about Brexit

Although it’s happened Brexit is still very much an ongoing headache for the perishables and food industry. The real reverberations from the UK’s exit from Europe are only just starting to be realised.

It’s been a long and fraught journey to Brexit, with most of the population hoping that they would never have to hear another Brexit debate or argument after the 31st December. However, those hopes are dashed because although the laborious and painstaking EU negotiations are more or less concluded, the real work, dealing with the effects of leaving Europe, is only just starting.

The food sector can’t just ‘action’ Brexit, it’s a delicate balance to ensure that supply chains remain unaffected and relationships with European suppliers are kept on good terms. For speciality products such as regional cheese and niche products, dealings with Europe need to be more than amicable, they need to be highly functioning and as strong as the stinkiest cheese.

Having put our Perishable Movements Limited thinking caps on, we’ve come up with 5 key points that the food and drink sector should remember when dealing with Brexit issues.

1. Getting goods into the UK from Europe
The dawning of Brexit meant that the old rule book for importing goods was thrown out of the window. Post December 31st businesses must have an EORI number starting with a GB to import goods into England, Wales and Scotland. If you’re importing into Northern Ireland, make sure you have an EORI number that begins with XI.

It’s also time to fill out those customs declarations. To find out the rate of duty your business will need to pay and whether you’ll need an import licence you will need to check the commodity code. Next on your import checklist will be to ensure you’re compliant with the marking, labelling and marketing standards.

You can follow the official UK government’s guidelines for importing goods into the UK from Europe here.

How to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay and whether you need to get a licence or certificate.

2. Getting goods out of the UK to Europe
The new trade deal set out no quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, if goods meet the relevant rules of origin . Check this link and if relevant, you’ll need an EORI number prefixed with either GB or XI plus a commodity code.

Be aware that there is an added admin burden on companies at the moment and this is causing delays in exports. This is because products deriving from animals such as meat, fish and dairy must have vet-approved export health certificates. Manufactured foods that contain animal products are currently exempt, however this will change in April. Unfortunately, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty about what this will mean for the perishable goods and food business.

Click here for the government’s official guide to exporting from the UK.

3. Moving goods into Northern Ireland

One of the key issues thrashed out during the Brexit trade deal was that there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The agreed trade deal sets out a regulatory border between Britain and Northern Ireland, because Northern Ireland continues to follow some EU rules.

Again added supply chain delays can occur at this point because food products are being checked when moving from the mainland UK to Northern Ireland. Following staff safety concerns and tensions with the new rules, these protocols were suspended on 2nd February. Supermarkets have been given a three-month period of grace which leaves questions hanging over the future of the protocol. As soon as we know more, we’ll update our clients.

For more information about getting goods into Northern Ireland click here.

4. New rules of origin


Some more red tape reveals itself in regard to revised rules of origin. If your business is exporting or importing food or drink to Europe, you’ll need to prove to HMRC that you can claim preference for goods. you are importing or give the person receiving the goods evidence of the origin so they can claim preference.

There’s lots of confusion about this specific part of Brexit trade agreement. You’ve got to make sure your business is following the rules correctly and have the correct proofs in place. Although a free trade agreement is in place with the EU, this doesn’t mean that goods coming into the UK have no import duties or tariffs.

If you need help, feel free to reach out to the PML team. We’re happy to share our experience and knowledge of Brexit compliance:

5. Don’t forget your IDs!

For the team at PML, this last point is our bread and butter. All importers, hauliers and supply staff moving between the EU and the UK must ensure their passport is valid for at least six months. It’s also important to ensure that any employees travelling to Europe have new Global Health Insurance Card which replaces the European Health Insurance Cards (the EHIC cards will be valid until their expiry date). Double check whether your employees need visas or work permits here.

Global Health Insurance Card