If you have a food business that imports products of non-animal origin into the UK, you need to be up to date with the current regulatory changes. Not managing the duty costs can affect your bottom line, and non-compliance could lead to expensive penalties. Read on to find out how to identify and avoid the pitfalls and challenges in a post-Brexit landscape.
Legislation for importing products of non-animal origin
Feed and food products of non-animal origin are any products that do not contain any ingredients derived from animals or animal products e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, confectionary, cereals, herbs, spices, etc.
Any products intended for human consumption must meet the general food safety legal requirements. In addition to these, there is specific legislation for food of non-animal origin.
Importing through suitable ports and border control posts
Most products of non-animal origin can enter through any port. Yet, you should contact the port and check that it has the necessary facilities to handle the imported produce.
Also, some products from specific countries are subject to emergency controls and can only enter the UK through designated border control posts (BCPs).
Common health entry document (CHED)
You must notify the BCP authorities of the intended arrival of all controlled products at least one working day before the expected arrival of the consignment.
You do this by completing part one of the original CHED and submitting it to Port Health along with copies of commercial documents and, if applicable, the original official certificate and test report.
Port Health completes part two of the CHED when all checks have been completed. The CHED indicates which checks have been carried out and the document is stamped and signed by a Port Health Officer.
Monthly postponed import vat statement
Import VAT is a tax paid on goods purchased from another country outside the UK. After Brexit, import VAT is also applicable to goods entering Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) from EU countries.
Monthly postponed import vat statements give details of postponed import VAT on customs declarations made under your EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number. You can use these statements to account for postponed import VAT on your VAT Return and as evidence necessary to reclaim your VAT.
These statements are divided into two parts:
- Part 1 is displayed on page 1 of your statement and it shows your overall postponed import VAT activity for the month, including your VAT registration number, your EORI number, the port where the goods entered the UK (if known), the amount of import VAT postponed at each port of entry, etc.
- Part 2 lists individual entries under each port of entry, including date of import, entry number, amount of import VAT to be accounted for, etc. It starts on page 2 of your statement and continues until there are no more entries to list.
Importing trade samples of non-animal origin
You can import trade samples of food for test marketing, research, development, or quality assurance purposes. Samples of food of non-animal origin can enter GB freely unless restrictions apply. Products intended for research purposes (e.g. laboratory tests) or for commercial approval, and not for consumption, are not subject to controls.
If the imported samples are for taste testing, they must be edible and free from contamination. Even if the samples are given away, they will likely be controlled by food law.
Free trade agreements
Trade agreements set out the rules that cover trade between 2 or more countries. These rules make trading easier by reducing the restrictions on imports and exports between those countries.
The United Kingdom has agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU. This agreement affects citizens, businesses, and travel to the EU. EU trade agreements with other countries do not apply to the UK.
After leaving the EU, the UK is also able to negotiate, sign and ratify new trade agreements. The UK signed an agreement in principle with Australia on 16 June 2021, and a free trade agreement with New Zealand on 28 February 2022. The negotiations for a trade agreement with the USA started in May 2020.
You can reduce your import duty by taking full advantage of free trade agreements. You need to identify the agreements your business can potentially benefit from and analyse your products’ bill of materials to determine FTA eligibility.
At the moment, 28% of food in the UK comes from the EU, 4% from Africa, North America, South America, and Asia, and 1% from Australasia. Import is crucial for the availability, choice, and affordability of food that consumers have in the UK.
If you want your food import business to be successful, you should be informed about the regulatory changes, present, and future trade deals, and the UK’s approach to food standards.
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