EU Goods Sub Committee report reveals ‘substantial barriers’ since Brexit for UK trade with Europe

A report by the House of Lords’ EU Goods Sub-Committee has warned small firms are “feeling the squeeze” since the Brexit deal with Brussels came into force in January and there remains “substantial barriers” for UK trade with Europe and small businesses bearing the brunt post Brexit.

The committee is calling on ministers to establish a trusted trader scheme to tackle the amount of paperwork that businesses have to complete, whilst also helping with the increased cost of transporting goods and giving firms time to understand the VAT changes when exporting to the EU.

In the Beyond Brexit: Trade in Goods report, it said there “remains substantial barriers to trade with the EU” following the implementation of the fresh trading terms.

It also warned that, without appropriate action, the physical checks currently in situ on plant and animal produce could become a “permanent barrier to trade”, with meat and live shellfish produce worst hit by the new inspection regime.

The committee’s chairwoman Baroness Verma, said:

“The Brexit trade deal struck with the EU may have prevented the nightmare of a ‘no deal’ exit for the UK, but a lot of unfinished business remains between the two sides. Businesses, particularly SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), are feeling the squeeze of the non-tariff barriers resulting from the end of the transition period.

The government must take an ambitious approach to trade ties with the EU. Swift action and further funding is needed to minimise future disruption.

Ongoing dialogue will be crucial to achieving smoother trade. The TCA (Trade and Cooperation Agreement) should be treated as the start, not the end of the UK’s new relationship with the EU.”

The report stated a series of recommendations for clarifying the requirements on exporters.

It stated that “On customs, we recommend a trusted trader scheme to enable more businesses – especially smaller businesses – to benefit from simplified customs procedures,”

The “complicated and varied VAT rules in different EU jurisdictions” were described as “among the most problematic non-tariff barriers to trade”, with the committee asking for “advice and support to increase understanding among traders of new VAT implications”. This is following the government’s decision to delay the release of its own programme.

On rules of origin stipulations, the committee said: “Only goods originating – or mostly originating – in the UK or EU will qualify for zero tariffs. The requirements will hit smaller businesses hardest but clarifications and mitigations, particularly on the re-export of non-processed goods, are urgently needed for all.”

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“At a moment when small firms are up against it like never before, those that trade internationally – often our most innovative and profitable businesses – are being hit with reams and reams of new paperwork. They simply don’t have the time or money to manage it.

Unless we ease the admin burden being placed on our small importers and exporters it’s going to weigh heavy on our efforts to get the economy firing on all cylinders again.”

Border controls that affect imports & exports post Brexit

Since formally leaving the EU on 31 December 2020, the UK and the EU have been operating under a new trade agreement. In this agreement, goods traded in between the UK and the EU shall not be subject to any tariffs or quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. However, Customs formalities will be required by both parties in customs areas, and VAT and certain other duties shall apply upon import.

Let’s look at the different stages of import and export processes and how they are being affected, with a focus on Spanish exporters.

Exporting from Spain

Spanish exporters benefit from the fact that intracommunity operations are very simple with regards to VAT. Previously duty registered in the ROI Register by Spanish exporters, needed to have an EU VAT Number and to be registered in the VIES (VAT Information Exchange Service). If both importers and exporters have an EU VAT Number, exporters will issue a VAT Free invoice to the buyer. This rule changes if one of the parties does not have the EU Vat Number.

In contrast, extra community operations are subject to a number of additional formalities, such as obtaining the EORI Number and issuing a number of documents (depending on the commodity to be exported). From the Spanish perspective, and although export invoices are VAT exempted, the main issue is that the goods will have to be cleared at customs before entering the UK and therefore face customs formalities.

Brexit changes in customs policy

The main impact of Brexit for the UK with regards to imports and exports is that it is now regarded as a third party, thus triggering the need to process imports through customs. EU Regulation 952/2013 of the European Parliament is no longer applicable in the UK.

In order to try to minimise the impact on the UK’s economy, the UK Government decided to implement border controls in January and again in April and June 2021. Hence, from 1 January 2021, standard goods arriving in the UK require a EIDR (Entry in Declarant’s Record) as part of the simplified customs declaration process is made. Importers are allowed a six month period to carry out customs declarations, and checks are only carried out on controlled goods such as toxic chemicals and excise goods like alcohol or tobacco, high-risk live animals, and plants.

The initial plan was to implement an intermediate step on 1 April and proceed to full implementation on 1 July, when full safety and security declarations would have been compulsory. However, pursuant to a written statement made on 11 March, the UK Government has decided to postpone both the planned intermediate step on 1 April, and the full implementation scheduled for 1 July. The next significant date in the calendar is now 1 October 2021, from when additional requirements will be necessary, especially for those trading goods subject to sanitary controls, such as products of animal origin, fishery products and live bivalve molluscs, high-risk food and feed not of animal origin, and plants and plant products. Export Health Certificate requirements for products of animal origin and certain animal by-products will come into force at the same time. The UK Government has taken the view that, although most businesses – and the UK’s workforce and infrastructure – would have been ready for the so-called Stage 2 on 1 April, some others needed more time to prepare. 1 January 2022 will bring additional requirements, with a view to setting March 2022 as the date when checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

How Brexit is affecting Spanish exporters?

The UK has traditionally been a stronger market for Spanish exporters than Spain has been for UK exporters. Between 2015 and 2019 an average of over 19 billion euros of exports from Spain to the UK took place, in comparison to 11.5 billion euros of UK goods imported into Spain.

All flow of goods between Spain and the UK  from January 2021 ceased to be considered intracommunity transactions and became subject to customs formalities (except for exports of goods to Northern Ireland, which will continue to be declared in the Intrastat system).

Although UK importers are most likely to be affected by the customs regulations, Spanish exporters are also facing related challenges due to Brexit. Customs invoices now must be issued, and goods have to be properly identified with their tariff code to avoid delays. Interestingly to note, the CE marking is no longer mandatory for products sold to UK customers.

Since EU legislation requires that all goods brought out of the EU customs territory be risk assessed and subjected to customs controls before departure, an exit summary declaration (EXS) also needs to be submitted.

How is Brexit affecting UK importers?

Post Brexit, there has been no changes to the general substantive safety requirements required for products to be sold in the UK, with regards to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR). Neither has there been any change to sector-specific product regulations. The UK Government has expressed a desire to remain closely aligned with EU product safety standards in order to facilitate trade, but the future position remains uncertain. Northern Ireland remains subject to a slightly different regulatory regime and further changes may happen in the future.

Despite product safety requirements remaining the same, there have been two key changes for importing products to the UK:

  • the UK is now a separate market to the EU and it will have an impact on who is considered responsible for the safety of products placed into the UK market.
  • the UK is no longer apart of the EU CE-marking regime, or the Safety Gate/RAPEX regime for sharing defective product information and facilitating recalls.

Product safety responsibility

Schedule 9 of the Product Safety and Metrology Regulations 2019 came into force at the end of 2020 and made several amendments to the GPSR. One of the main effects of these amendments is that the ‘producer’ (to whom the primary product safety obligations attach) may change.

Essentially, the manufacturer of a product will retain the ultimate responsibility for the conformity of the product to the relevant product safety regime, provided that the manufacturer or its representative is established in the UK market. If the manufacturer (or representative) is not established in the UK market, then the importer of the product to the UK will be considered the “producer” of the product, and will assume the responsibility.

Producers must comply with the GPSR and any other relevant product-specific regime and take reasonable steps to ensure that the product is safe to use and minimise risks associated with the product, such as providing labelling and warnings where appropriate and ensuring effective traceability and reporting.

The practical impact on UK importers is that in the absence of the product manufacturer being established in the UK market, the importer will now be considered a producer, and will assume liability for the safety of the product. This exposes many previously unaffected importers to potential defective product claims and places a greater regulatory burden on importers to ensure product safety compliance.

Labelling and reporting

The UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) will no longer be part of the EU CE marking regime for indicating conformity with product safety regimes. From 1 January 2021 the UK requires products being placed on the UK market to bear the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark.

Currently, the technical requirements and the conformity assessment processes and standards used to demonstrate conformity for UKCA purposes remain largely the same as those supporting the EU regime for CE marking. The UK Government may diverge from this position in the future, but currently any product bearing a CE mark should be able to bear a UKCA mark.

In most cases, a transitional period applies so that the UKCA mark will not need to be applied to any products marketed in the UK before 1 January 2022, and products labelled with the CE mark will be considered to have conformed with the updated UK regime. But, in some cases the UKCA mark is already required to be applied to goods placed on the UK market (since 1 January 2021). This requirement does not apply to existing fully manufactured stock, but from 1 January 2023 the UKCA marking must be permanently attached to the product, as opposed to being printed on packaging or applied in any other temporary manner.

Additionally, as of 1 January 2021, the UK is no longer part of the EU RAPEX product safety regime for identifying and sharing product information on defective products and coordinating product recalls. The UK Government intends to set up a similar regime, but until it does, importers do not need to have regard to RAPEX alerts relating to products for sale on the UK market. It may however be sensible to pay attention still if a product is subject to a product recall in the EU, in order to protect importers from potential product liability claims as discussed above.

If you need advice about Brexit and import/export trade legislation, fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch.

Air cargo demand recovers to pre-Covid levels, latest IATA data reveals

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released January 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that air cargo demand returned to pre-Covid levels (January 2019) for the first time since the onset of the crisis. January demand also showed strong month-to-month growth over December 2020 levels.

Gustavo Mundel is Perishable Movements Limited air cargo freight manager;

“Demand for air freight is returning to pre-Covid market levels, we are also seeing a spike in  demand for charter, ACMI and BSA programs, which is  the natural response from the air cargo market when facing belly capacity shortage.”

Perishable Movements Limited Air Freight Charter Manager

“We won’t see a shift in balance until there is more clarity in vaccine rollout programmes for those dependent on air freight logistics, coupled with  passenger aircraft flights coming back in higher numbers. We are witnessing the ever-more importance of airfreight in keeping supply chains going with vital and lifesaving goods which are essential for paving the way for a new normality to take place”.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 1.1 per cent compared to January 2019 and +3 per cent compared to December 2020. All regions saw month-on-month improvement in air cargo demand, and North America and Africa were the strongest performers.

The recovery in global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was reversed owing to new capacity cuts on the passenger side. Capacity shrank 19.5 per cent compared to January 2019 and fell 5 per cent compared to December 2020, the first monthly decline since April 2020.

The operating backdrop remains supportive for air cargo volumes, IATA said. Conditions in the manufacturing sector remain robust despite new Covid-19 outbreaks that dragged down passenger demand. The global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 53.5 in January. Results above 50 indicate manufacturing growth versus the prior month.

The new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI – a leading indicator of air cargo demand– continued to point to further CTK improvement. However, the performance of the metric was less robust compared with Q42020 as Covid-19 resurgence negatively impacted export business in emerging markets. Should this continue or expand to other markers, it could weigh on future air cargo growth.

The level of inventories remains relatively low compared to sales volumes. Historically, this has meant that businesses had to quickly refill their stocks, for which they also used air cargo services.

“Air cargo traffic is back to pre-crisis levels and that is some much-needed good news for the global economy,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. 


Open letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Dear Sadiq Khan,

As the Lord Mayor of London and head of the executive of the Greater
London Authority, you’ve taken the decision to extend the Low Emissions
Zone (LEZ) emissions standards from 1st March 2021 to making it tougher
for heavier vehicles to drive within the Greater London area. This includes
Heathrow as per your guidance on www.tfl.govuk: ‘All roads within
Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are
included.’ The charges are payable 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The charges range from £100 to £300 per day with penalty charges at
£500 or £250 if paid within 14 days.

As a company which is involved in the transfer of perishable – mainly
essential food – cargo both into and out of the UK this move is crippling
our business. We have daily consignments of food departing from
Heathrow and coming in from Heathrow which we handle on behalf of our
customers to ensure a seamless onward journey. We also receive daily
consignments of European produce to our packhouse, which is then
packed and loaded, ready for distribution to the UK’s major food retailers.
While our own fleet of trucks is Euro VI compliant, many of the European
hauliers that we work with to deliver food are not and are now refusing to
come to Heathrow because of the unacceptably high charges.

During the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to maintain our
operations despite the challenging conditions, so that the supply chain to
the UK’s supermarkets and key retailers could remain intact. We’ve also
been responsible for the safe transfer of essential PPE. Our employees are
classed as Essential Workers because of the important role they play in
keeping supermarkets stocked with vital food supplies.
Having survived the difficult trading conditions associated with the
pandemic we were then faced with the incredibly stressful fallout of
Britain’s departure from the EU. To say there has been a distinct lack of
clarity from senior decision makers is an understatement. The handling of
Brexit and its impact on our industry has been shambolic. We’ve had to
employ teams of people to try and keep up to speed with the constant
changes, which were still being modified as late as the first week of
January. Despite this, we’ve managed to adapt our operations yet again
and have successfully helped our clients understand the new protocols to
ensure perishable food supplies successfully reach their intended
destination on time.
Two major blows to the industry which could potentially have destroyed
an established British business. But we survived.

A business that employs around 100 members of staff. A business that
has invested heavily in helping the post-Brexit UK transport infrastructure
by creating an approved Border Control Post and ERT (bonded
warehouse) facility away from the ports at Spalding to enable the
continued speedy movement of produce. A business that is expanding and
generating new jobs. A business that supported UK manufacturing to the
tune of £500,000 by investing in a new fleet of state-of-the-art trucks. A
business that is closely aligned with Britain’s plans to ensure Heathrow
can compete with other major European airports.

And how are we repaid?

At a time when you are trying to assert Heathrow as an equal to Paris
CDG and Amsterdam in terms of airfreight the introduction of this tax has
effectively made this mission impossible. And with it you have also made
our plans to extend our operations in Heathrow untenable. This will lead
to people losing their jobs as we will be forced to relocate; the business
will have to spend thousand of pounds in re-training new staff and those
staff that are able to move to a new location will ironically be adding to
the cost of fuel emissions by generating more traffic on the roads as they
are forced to make longer journeys to work.

So much for supporting Britain’s essential workforce.



The world of logistics can represent a male dominated work environment, but for Perishable Movements Ltd (PML) – the global perishable cargo specialists – just under half (48%) of the staff are women.

Financial Director, Rui Pan (left) and Imrana Giannotto (right), PML HR Manager

Imrana Giannotto is the HR Manager at PML and explains the significant role that women continue to play in the company.

“At PML, women have the same access to a clear career path and opportunities for development as men. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that our Financial Director – Rui Pan – is female and that women hold down senior roles in a number of PML’s divisions, especially accounts, imports, warehouse and the packhouse. The nature of our business means that we need to run our operations 24/7 which requires us to run shifts. This type of working pattern is often appealing to women who are faced with
juggling childcare commitments whilst holding down a job.”

Because of this style of working, the pandemic has had limited impact on the female workforce, “Our women had already taken on shifts that fitted around their partner’s work so effectively, they already had their childcare sorted to fit around family life. When the pandemic hit and schools closed, many mums across the country were forced to stay at home to look after their children, but for the majority of our wonderful women, this was not an issue.”

“As a critical service – PML’s business involves moving essential supplies of food – as such, our staff are recognised as key workers, so all employees are entitled to continued access to schools and nurseries.”

As Head of HR, Imrana places great emphasis on ensuring women are treated equally when they choose to have children. “We have had a lot of maternity cases, especially in our warehouse teams. One lady gave birth to twins, came back to work and is due to have another set of twins! The fact that this employee intends to return twice is testament to our commitment to working mums. We understand how challenging this can be and we’ve worked hard to offer flexible working hours to accommodate their needs. We make sure that any pregnant members of staff are well cared for and given plenty of breaks to help them during what is obviously a physically and emotionally demanding period of their life.”

Not that women rely solely on the watchful support of the HR team to hold their own at PML. Imrana continues, “These are incredibly strong, hard-working, single-minded ladies who are the backbone to our business. They are used to multi-tasking; they get on with the task in hand without whingeing and when new challenges arise – they simply take them in their stride.”

For a logistics business which moves specialist temperature cargo around the world, Brexit and the associated additional paperwork and new protocols has certainly not been easy. But to working mum Angelika who has enjoyed numerous promotions since joining the packhouse team and who now plays a pivotal role in the imports department, it was simply another opportunity to shine.

Imrana comments, “Angelika is a perfect example of how our women are focused on results. Their drive and determination ensure they seize any challenge with both hands and always go the extra mile to deliver the desired results.”

Imrana has no doubt that women will continue to thrive at PML. “Our ladies are a force to be reckoned with and rightly so. Women at PML don’t wish to be treated any differently to men, just equally. They don’t allow anything to hold them back and continue to demonstrate their immense value to our operations.”

Brexit delays at UK border ‘getting worse’

CIPS survey finds nearly two-thirds of supply chain managers reporting delays of up to three days, longer than in January.

Delays at the UK-EU border are getting worse, new research indicates, as Brexit paperwork continues to snarl up supply chains.

A survey of 350 UK supply chain managers by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) found over half (58 per cent) saying that delays have become longer since the beginning of January 2021, with 30 per cent reporting that delays are significantly longer than they were when the new border rules first came into effect.  

As many as 63 per cent of those surveyed have experienced delays of at least two to three days in getting goods into the UK, up from 38 per cent in a similar survey in January. The situation is only slightly better for exports, with 44 per cent experiencing delays of at least two to three days getting goods into the EU.

By far the main reason for the holdups is the time it takes for customs to work through the new paperwork, with nearly half of businesses (47 per cent) citing this as the chief cause. Other customs issues such as a lack of capacity among customs staff and drivers being turned away for having the wrong paperwork were also cited by respondents.

Only nine per cent of people said new Covid-19 protocols were causing holdups at the border.

The delays come despite the fact many new import certifications are still yet to come into force. The extra checks, which will impact a wide range of goods, are due to be phased in from April.

Dr John Glen, CIPS economist and visiting fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, said: “We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce as freight volumes returned to normal and customs systems became used to the new processes has not come to pass.

“What is even more concerning is that the delays are continuing to get longer, putting more and more pressure on the UK’s supply chains and affecting the timely delivery of much-needed goods. 

“The paperwork required at the border is not going to change any time soon, so we should brace ourselves for these delays to continue for at least the next few months. New requirements for import certifications are also rapidly approaching and these will only add to the paperwork required, causing further delays for businesses.

“The knock-on impact of these delays will trickle far down the supply chain and ultimately result in stock shortages and inflated prices for consumers”.

Guidance on health and identification marks that apply from 1 January 2021

Guidance on the health and identification marks that must be applied to products of animal origin (POAO), such as meat, egg products, fish, cheese and milk.

The following guidance is for enforcement authorities and UK food businesses that produce POAO in the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland). It outlines the health and identification mark requirements that will allow POAO produced by UK businesses to be placed on Great Britain, Northern Ireland, EU and non-EU markets from 1 January 2021.

What are health and identification marks? 

The health mark is applied directly to POAO, typically meat carcases, by the Competent Authority (CA) or under its supervision, and shows the product is fit for human consumption. 

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the CA. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has similar responsibility in Scotland. 

The identification mark is applied to POAO by food businesses to show it has been produced in an establishment approved in accordance with food safety and hygiene regulations, and is typically applied to wrapping, packaging, or labelling which contains, or is attached to, the POAO.

Further down this page you can find: 

  • A description of the new health and identification marks, depending on whether the food business is based in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘United Kingdom’ where it is practical
  • Information setting out the requirements for different markets

Products placed on the market before the end of the Transition Period (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020) 

‘Placing on the market’, as defined in Article 3(8) of Regulation (EC) 178/2002, means the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale, distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

If your UK business placed POAO on a market before the end of the Transition Period, it will be allowed to reach its end user in the specific market upon which it was placed with the existing health and identification marks.

POAO that were placed on the market in Great Britain before the end of the Transition Period can reach their end-user on the Great Britain market, including circulation within Great Britain, without the need for re-labelling.

POAO that were placed on the market in the EU before the end of Transition Period can reach the end-user on the EU market without the need for re-labelling.

POAO that were placed on the market in Northern Ireland before the end of Transition Period, can reach the end-user on either the UK or EU markets without the need for re-labelling.

POAO moved into the EU and Northern Ireland markets from Great Britain after the end of the Transition Period will require re-labelling to meet the requirements.

POAO that have been placed on the market in UK before the end of Transition Period can reach the end-user on non-EU markets without the need for re-labelling.

Rewrapping or repacking of POAO

Any rewrapping or repacking of POAO must be carried out by an establishment, approved to carry out the required activity. If carried out by an establishment separate to the original manufacturer, the appropriate identification mark must be applied with the establishment’s approval number. This is to maintain traceability and ensure food safety is not compromised.

Where product destined for the EU or NI market has left the manufacturing food business and is in a cold store or other storage facilities in Great Britain which is not approved for rewrapping or repackaging, it is important that the product is moved to an establishment which is approved to carry out any rewrapping or repacking activities specifically for that POAO, or returned to the manufacturing food business. 

Where over-labelling is appropriate, the food business will need to be satisfied that any over-labelling is secure and does not obscure any other mandatory labelling information. Failure to meet these requirements may result in rejection by enforcement authorities in the country of destination.

Information on the use of existing stock with the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark 

On the Great Britain market

Legislation in England, Wales and Scotland provides for a 21-month period of adjustment for goods placed on the market in Great Britain to reduce the impact of the change in requirements for identification marks.

This will allow UK businesses to deplete existing stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark owned by the food business operator at the end of the Transition Period.

The provision is available to UK food businesses for POAO placed on the market in Great Britain. It is not applicable to POAO produced in the UK for placing on the EU, Northern Ireland or non-EU markets. 

It is not intended to enable businesses to replenish stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark after the end of the Transition Period. Businesses are encouraged to adopt the new markings as soon as possible once the Transition Period ends.

The provision started from 1 January 2021 and is available for food businesses up to 30 September 2022. After this date, the use of stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging with the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark will be unlawful.  

On the Northern Ireland market

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, goods sold in Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules for food labelling. There are changes to labelling that apply from 1 January 2021.

However, the UK Government recognises that businesses will need time to adapt to these new labelling rules.

The UK Government is working with the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and district councils in Northern Ireland on an enforcement approach of new labelling requirements on the Northern Ireland market that takes these challenges into account.

In line with previous rule changes for labelling, there will be a proportionate and risk-based enforcement approach for identification marks. This approach will be implemented in a way which supports businesses as they adapt to the requirements over time.

More information regarding general food labelling requirements (Opens in a new window)can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Moving products of animal origin from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

The agreement reached in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol set out that there will be a:

  • Three-month grace period for authorised traders moving products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plant and plant products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland;
  • Six-month arrangement has been put in place to enable the continued movement of certain meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  

There are conditions attached to both these arrangements which are set out in the Defra guidance on the authorised traders scheme and meat products subject to restrictions and prohibitions (Opens in a new window).

The FSA consider that because full traceability is being maintained, there is no risk to public health as a result of POAO bearing the UK/EC identification marks. Therefore, our advice to relevant enforcement authorities is that the same proportionate and risk-based enforcement approach for identification marks should be implemented in a way which supports businesses as they adapt to the requirements over time. This is also in line with the DAERA Compliance Protocol published for SPS controls.

DAERA Compliance Protocol

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have published:

The compliance protocol sets out that commodities not within scope of the two grace periods (i.e. the authorised trader scheme and arrangements concerning prohibitions and restrictions for some meat products) will be expected to comply with EU rules from 1 January 2021 when moving POAO from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Further UK Government guidance on moving animal products from Great Britain into Northern Ireland (Opens in a new window)can be found on GOV.UK website.

UK (both Great Britain and Northern Ireland) products on the market at 11:01pm GMT on 31 December 2020 and destined for non-EU countries

The Defra Chief Veterinary Officer has written to the Competent Authorities of non-EU countries to explain changes to health and identification marks. 

The annex to the Chief Veterinary Officer letter (issued December 2020) is reproduced below for information only

A: UK exports of food products of animal origin (POAO) to non-EU Countries: UK identification and health marks 

Following the Transition Period (ending 31 December 2020), the form of the health and identification marks applied to products of animal origin (POAO) produced in the UK will change.

1. Existing health and identification marks

The health and identification marks for POAO for export from the UK to non-EU countries are currently in this format: 

Health and identification marks applied before the 31 December 2020

Health and identification marks applied before the 31 December 2020

2. Future health and identification marks

Health and identification marks applied after the Transition Period will be presented in the following formats:

Health marks applied after the 31 December 2020

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

Identification marks applied after the 31 December 2020

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom AA123', 'GB AA123', 'UK AA123'
Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) AA123 EC', 'UK(NI) AA123 EC'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

3. Key changes

For POAO produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales):

  • the ‘EC’ suffix will be removed from health and identification marks 
  • the marks will carry the full country name ‘United Kingdom’ or an abbreviated code ‘GB’ or ‘UK’.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland:

  • the health and identification marks will continue to display the ‘EC ‘suffix 
  • the marks will carry the full country name ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’ or an abbreviated code, ‘UK(NI)’

In all cases, the approval number of the establishment, which provides the traceability required, will remain unchanged.

4. Exemption for eggs for human consumption and hatching eggs

Eggs in shell for human consumption and hatching eggs produced in the UK do not need to carry the UK identification/health mark outlined above and will continue to be marked in the same way as they are now. However, in some cases, such exported eggs may carry an additional ISO code (GB, GBR or 826) either instead of, or in addition to, the current marking. This may be because such eggs have been batch marked before the exact export destination is decided. Similarly, hatching eggs may also carry the word ‘hatching’.  

In all cases, eggs in shell for human consumption and hatching eggs produced in the UK will guarantee the same high standards and quality following the Transition Period.

5. Period of transition for goods on the market

You may continue to receive products carrying the ‘UK/EC’ health and identification marks (see point 1 above) for a significant period of time. These marks continue to be valid marks, and relate to products produced in the UK before the end of the Transition Period. As the supply chain depletes itself of old stocks which bear these health and identification marks, you will see a gradual change to the new health and identification marks (see point 2 above).  

All consignments and products certified using any form of the health and identification mark in the United Kingdom, with or without the ‘EC’ suffix, continues to be a guarantee of our continuing high standards and quality delivering official controls.   

Examples of the health and identification marks that apply from 1 January 2021

FSA approved businesses in Great Britain

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'

FSA approved businesses in Northern Ireland

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

Local authority approved businesses in Great Britain

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom AA123', 'GB AA123', 'UK AA123'

District Councils in Northern Ireland

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) AA123 EC', 'UK(NI) AA123 EC'

Size and dimension of the marks that apply from 1 January 2021

Health mark

The health mark must be a legible and indelible oval mark at least 6.5cm wide by 4.5cm high. It must contain either the full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ in capitals or the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation for POAO produced in England, Scotland and Wales, followed by the approval number of the establishment. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ where it is practical.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland the health mark must contain either the full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND)’ in capitals or ‘UK(NI)’ abbreviation, followed by the approval number of the establishment. It must also contain the letters ‘EC’ below the approval number.

Letters must be at least 0.8cm high and figures at least 1 cm high. The ink used for the health mark must be authorised in accordance with food law which governs the use of colouring substances in food.

The dimensions and characters of the health mark may be reduced for health marking of lamb, kids, and piglets.

Identification mark

There is no minimum or maximum size for the identification mark. However, it must be legible and indelible oval mark, and the characters easily decipherable.

The identification mark must contain either the full country name ‘United Kingdom’ or the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation for POAO produced in England, Scotland and Wales. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘United Kingdom’ where it is practical.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland, the new identification mark must contain either the full country name ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’ or the ‘UK(NI)’ abbreviation followed by the approval number of the establishment. It must also contain the letters ‘EC’ after the approval number.

Get in touch for more expert guidance and advice relating to post-Brexit imports and exports.