Customs Clearance Certificates For Food, Drink & Agricultural Products

To export processed foods and drinks, consumables that contain products of animal origin (POAO), fruit, vegetables and other edible plants, you must obtain an Export Health Certificate (EHC) or abide by the specified rules to be able to run your business. 

POAO refers to animal products that are made for human consumption, this includes:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Gelatine
  • Honey
  • Meat

An EHC is required if you are:

  • Exporting POAO-containing food and drink from Great Britain to the EU
  • Moving POAO-containing food and drink from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
  • Moving through the EU and Northern Ireland

If your business wishes to export or move processed food or drink products that do not have POAO in them, it’s unlikely your business will need to obtain an EHC.

In other countries you may need a different type of export certificate for certain products that you’re looking to export. Here’s the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) exporting country guides, useful for UK businesses looking to sell products in different countries.

Additional customs clearance certificates 

Another certificate you may need includes a certificate of free sale, which is required if you wish to export processed food and drink to non-EU countries. However, the food authority in whichever country you wish to export to will let you know if you need to obtain one. 

For soft drinks with added sugar, it’s likely that you will need to register to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy if you’re looking to export these products. For any drinks you export and pay levy on, be aware that you can claim credit for these.

If your drinks meet these conditions, it’s likely your products are liable for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

  • Drinks that have had additional sugar added throughout production
  • Drinks (apart from fruit juice, vegetable juice and milk) that contains sugar/honey
  • Drinks that hold at least 5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres, whether it’s ready to drink or comes in a diluted form 
  • Drinks that are ready to drink or need to be consumed in a diluted form, whether that’s with water, crushed ice or processed to make blended ice, mixed with carbon dioxide, or a combinations of the aforementioned
  • Drinks that are bottled, canned or packaged otherwise for instant consumption or require dilution
  • Drinks with  a 1.2% alcohol by volume or less

Drinks can be reformulated to lessen their sugar content – sometimes this can reduce or remove a drink’s need to be registered to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

To better understand what classifies as sugar and will need to be registered will include (but not limited to) drinks that contain: 

  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose

However sugar replacements such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia are not included.

Drinks that aren’t liable for the levy and do not need to be registered include:

  • Drinks that contain at least 75% of milk
  • Drinks that are milk replacements such as almond milks and soya milks
  • Drinks that are alcohol replacements, such as alcohol-free beer or alcohol-free wine
  • Drinks that are made from pure fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugar
  • Drinks with liquid flavouring put in coffee and cocktails 
  • Drinks that come in powder form
  • Drinks that are made by mixing liquids and serviced in an open vessel, such as cocktails 
  • Drinks such as infant formula 
  • Drinks that are intended as a diet replacement, such as formulated foods or dietary foods recommended for medical reasons

How to know if your soft drinks are liable for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy?
You can check using the GOV website on their guidance page

How to apply for an export health certificate

When exporting or moving live animals or animal products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, EU or non-EU countries, firstly, you need to search for each product your business will be shipping. You can find the right export health certificate for each item by searching for it on the GOV website. Here you can find the latest versions of the supporting documents you will need for your business to ship goods with ease.

It’s important to note that when moving live animals, you must have a certified vet or an inspector from the local authority sign your certificates. 

Prohibited and restricted products

Under the EU rules you are not allowed to export the following goods to the EU:

  • Chilled red mince meat
  • Chilled, prepared meat (like raw sausages)
  • Minced poultry
  • Mechanically separated meats
  • Raw milk produced from TB herds
  • Eggs that haven’t been sized or packed (graded)
  • Unpasteurised milk and unpasteurised cheese or products containing these

Some animal and animal products are not allowed to be re-exported either, these include:

  • Fresh meat that originate from the EU or non-EU countries
  • Milk that doesn’t come from the UK
  • Products with animal origin that come from non-EU countries that haven’t been listed by the EU

Using logistics hubs to export or ship your goods

Logistics hubs can be used to export and ship POAO, doing so can help businesses to save time, as it expedites the border processes. This is because a logistics hub works as the central point of contact for exports and expert staff, which means operations are a great deal smoother.

Here are some of the different things a logistics hub can do:

  • Aggregate products from other suppliers with yours into one package.
  • Take your goods and ship them to their intended destination in Northern Ireland or the EU.
  • Sort out all of the EHCs for your goods.
  • Offer a customs brokerage service, making the import and export process as efficient as possible.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that logistics hubs can offer different services from one another. With that in mind, it’s worth checking with your logistics hub exactly what sort of services they offer in order to avoid confusion.

When sending your products to a logistics hub, it’s absolutely essential that they also have with them the necessary supporting documents. An example of this might be the following: if you were trying to export a particular type of meat product, you would need to be able to show  with the right documentation where the animal came from.

Once your goods reach the logistics hub, your documents will then be checked over by the certifying officer, who will then be able to follow up with the EHC protocol.

If you are at all unsure about what sort of documentation you might need to send with the food products that you are exporting or importing, we recommend that you check with your logistics hub, as they will be able to tell you exactly what you need to send, and the ideal time to send it.

The Food Standards Agency 

For products produced in Great Britain, you can find out where they were manufactured by visiting the Food Standards Agency. 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the independent government department that operates to look after public health, reduce foodborne illness, support trade and the UK economy. This governing body is responsible for the food regulation systems that have been put into place to tackle food crime, ensuring that all food is safe and authentic both in the UK and abroad. 

The FSA was established in 2000 after a number of foodborne illness outbreaks. The five most prominent foodborne illnesses include:

1. Campylobacter Stems from red meats, unpasteurised milk and untreated water and can be caused by cross contamination of raw chicken
2. E.Coli Stems from raw, undercooked meats, contaminated vegetables and salads, water and unpasteurised milk
3. Hepatitis E virus Stems from pork
4. Listeria Stems from cured meats, smoked fish, cooked shellfish, blue and mould-ripened soft cheeses, pate, pre-prepared salads and sandwiches
5. Salmonella Stems from raw meat, undercooked poultry, eggs, unpasteurised milk 

As well as ensuring food safety, the FSA also governs consumer interests in food such as the price of each product and their availability, and the FSA also has some involvement in animal welfare and environmental concerns.

Here’s a brief timeline of the new changes the FSA has implemented since 2000:

2005 – ‘Safer food, better business’ 

2007 – Front of pack nutritional labelling

2010 – Food businesses hygiene improved

2014 – Tackling campylobacter poisoning 

2018 – Introduction of blockchain technology

2019 – Full ingredient, allergen labelling

Businesses that supply or produce food on the move

There are requirements outlined by the FSA that suppliers and food producers must meet to prevent their products from being contaminated whilst in transit. To ensure this, all containers and vehicles must be thoroughly cleaned and in good condition, able to keep products at the right temperature and allow for food temperature checks when required. 

During transport, items must be shipped separately, so raw food and ready-to-eat food must be packed apart and food should be separate from non-food products. 

Transforming global commerce with KlearNow

We understand that processes in this industry can be inefficient. Often there’s a lack of transparency with fees, visibility of shipments are almost invisible and data management highly time-consuming – which is why we’re here to solve your problems and make your day-to-day efficient. 

KlearNow is a customer-centric platform that makes customs clearance simple for today’s importers, brokers, freight forwarders and carriers. We have combined AI technology with a cloud-based platform so that our customers can enjoy more business, at lower costs, and the ability to access all-important documents 24 hours a day. 

To gain peace of mind, save time and money, and full visibility of your businesses’ shipments, get started with KlearNow, we’d love to talk to you! You can find out more about us on our website, alternatively you can contact our dedicated team today.