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Food and drink guidance

The UK has withdrawn from the European Union and is in a transition period until 31 December 2020. During this transition period the UK is continuing to follow the EU's internal market rules and the trading relationship remains the same. The UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland, will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the transition period unless negotiated otherwise. On 1 January 2021, the UK's new trading and political relationship with the EU will begin which may include changes affecting food and drink suppliers.

  1. Food and drink labelling
  2. Organic food
  3. Fresh fruit and vegetables
  4. Poultry meat
  5. Eggs
  6. Hops and hops products
  7. Protecting food and drink names
  8. Exporting fish to the EU
  9. Exporting GM food and animal feed products
  10. Exporting composite food products to the EU
  11. Importing and exporting wine
  12. General guidance

Food and drink labelling

Food products placed on the EU market before 1 January 2021 can continue to be sold, distributed or transferred in the EU without labelling changes. Pre-packaged food and caseins must have an EU or Northern Ireland (NI) address for the Food Business Operator (FBO) or EU importer on the packaging or food label. Food from Great Britain (GB) cannot be labelled as 'origin EU' when sold in the EU after 1 January 2021, but can use this labelling when sold in GB until 30 September 2022. Food from Northern Ireland can continue to use this label.

Businesses must not use the EU organics logo or the EU emblem on goods produced in the UK from 1 January 2021 unless they have been authorised by the EU to do so. UK businesses should check with their EU importer how the EU's new labelling requirements affect their products. For further information see the guidelines provided by the UK government: Food and drink labelling changes from 1 January 2021, and also see the guidance on labelling changes required from 1 January 2021 issued by the EU.

Organic food

The UK will have its own laws for the production, processing, labelling and trading of organic food and feed from 1 January 2021, with organic standards remaining similar to the European Union's. Food and feed registered as organic in the EU will continue to be accepted as organic in the UK. The EU will decide whether to continue accepting food and feed registered in the UK as organic. For further information see Trading and labelling organic food from 1 January 2021.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

For businesses importing EU fruit and vegetables into the UK, it's important to know that the marketing standards processes at UK borders will not change in the short term from 1 January 2021. Businesses should prepare to comply with EU marketing standards regulations if they export fruit and vegetables to the EU. If a business is exporting products subject to Specific Marketing Standards from the UK to the EU or non-EU (third) countries, they will need to apply for a UK-issued certificate of conformity for their products to clear UK customs. Businesses are encouraged to get both UK and EU-issued certificates of conformity before 1 January 2021. For more information on importing and exporting fruit and vegetables from the EU to the UK and vice versa, directly or through a third country, from 1 January 2021, please see Fresh fruit and vegetable marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

Poultry meat

The UK government has provided information on importing and exporting poultry meat from the UK to EU and non-EU countries from 1 January 2021, with details on the certificates required for farming or chilling methods, marketing standards checks and custom checks for EU countries. Check the guidelines provided by the UK government: Poultry meat and marketing standards from 1 January 2021.


The UK will be classed as a 'third' country from 1 January 2021 and as such there may be a period during which eggs cannot be exported to the EU. This is because the EU may want to carry out an assessment called 'an evaluation of equivalence'. Eggs for export to non-EU countries may need to comply with different requirements. For further information, egg producers, manufacturers, retailers and distributors can check Egg marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

Hops and hops products

Certification centres will still issue hops certificates for hops produced in the UK from 1 January 2021. UK hops certification centres must remove all EU branding (including references to the EU and the EU emblem) from certificates from 1 January 2021. The form of the certificate and the process for getting a certificate will not change. Hops imported into the UK must be accompanied by new documents as evidence that they meet UK marketing standards.

There may be a period during which the UK cannot export hops to the EU from 1 January 2021. This is because the EU only accepts imports of hops accompanied by an EU Attestation of Equivalence, issued by an authorised agency in the exporting non-EU (third) country. For further information see Hops and hops products marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

Protecting food and drink names

The UK will set up its own geographical indication (GI) schemes. GI schemes provide a set of rules to protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products, for example Stilton cheese or Melton Mowbray pies. The UK scheme will fulfil its World Trade Organisation obligations. For further information on what food and drink providers with GI protection need to know from 1 January, see Protecting food and drink names from 1 January 2021.

Exporting fish to the EU

To export fish to the EU after 1 January 2021, businesses will need to follow the same rules currently in place for exports of fish to some non-EU countries. Businesses will need to create an export health certificate, except for direct landings of fresh fish in EU ports from UK-flagged fishing vessels. A catch certificate will also be required, which needs to be validated and sent to the company's importer.

Businesses may also need direct landing documents, a storage document in the products have been stored, and a processing statement if the products have been processed. Businesses will need to follow customs and border inspection requirements. For further information on how to export fish for human consumption form 1 January 2021 including the documents that will be required, see Export fish to the EU from 1 January 2021.

Exporting GM food and animal feed products

Businesses established in the UK wishing to trade GM food and animal feed products in the EU after 1 January 2021 will need to have an establishment in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), or have a representative established in the EU or EEA. When appointing a representative, UK businesses should ensure that the potential representative is based in an EU or EEA country (including Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) and that they are able to provide the necessary assurance to act as such a representative. The role of the representative is to provide assurance that the non-EU establishment complies with EU legislation.

For further information for businesses that hold or seek authorisations for GM food, feed or animal feed additives, or export animal feed to the EU, see Exporting GM food and animal feed products from 1 January 2021.

Exporting composite food products to the EU

Composite food products are for human consumption only and they contain a mix of processed products of animal origin (POAO) and plant products used as a main ingredient and not just added for flavouring or processing. Before businesses start exporting composite food products to the EU after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, they will need to check if their products are exempt from EU border control posts (BCPs) previously known as border inspection posts. If they do not have an exemption, businesses will need to follow the wider changes for exporting to the EU after 1 January 2021 such as the tariffs and customs declarations, meeting EU standards and completing the Export Health Certificate and supporting documents.

Businesses will also have to follow the process to get the EHC signed by a vet; get an additional EHC for composites containing honey, gelatine or snails; and plan their route to getting an inspection at an EU BCP that can accept their type of goods. For further information see Export composite food products to the EU from 1 January 2021.

Importing and exporting wine

There will be changes affecting wine imports if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. As the UK will become a third country from 1 January 2-21, consignments of wine exported from the UK to the EU will be subject to EU third country requirements for wine which include having an EU VI-1. A VI-1 is a document issued in a third country that fully describes wines imported into the European Community. There are some situations where businesses do not need a VI-1 to export wine from the UK to the EU. Defra will be the UK competent authority for issuing EU VI-1s, certifying that the wine complies with EU regulations and has been produced using wine-making practices which are either recommended or published by the International Organization of Vine and Wine, or authorised by the EU. For further information see Importing and exporting wine from 1 January 2021.

The UK government has provided general guidance on how business owners can prepare their food and drink business for 1 January 2021, including detailed information on how to get an UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number; what businesses need to know about custom declarations; and simplified customs procedures. Details are also provided about temporary rates of customs duty on imports from 1 January 2021.

This information is correct as of 30 October and is based on the available information at the time. Check for updates at

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