Imports of non animal origin products - EU controls

Products Not of Animal Origin (NAO)

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List of food and feed needing a CED
About importing Products with aflatoxin controls
List of food & feed with aflatoxin controls
Pre-export checks - Import Concessions

Imports are controlled through a system of checks (official controls) aimed at making sure that products meet European standards.  The law specifies that checks are carried out at a designated port which has been approved to handle the product concerned (A designated point of entry - DPE).   Felixstowe is approved for the import of all categories of food and feed. 

Import Checks Food and Feed

EC Regulation 882/2004 is the main legislation setting out the principles of checks on food and feed imports; which is implemented into law in the Official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2009

However food and feed that has been identified as being a risk to health is specifically controlled. 

Designated Port

Felixstowe port is designated for the import of all controlled NAO imports.  There are inspection facilities – the Temperature Controlled Examination Facility (TCEF) which is used for the examination of refrigerated products and animal by-products and the Ambient Temperature Examination Facility (ATEF) which is used for the examination of products transported at ambient temperature.  There is a specially constructed facility within the ATEF which is used for the examination of NAO consignments. 

The facilities are approved by FSA and the European Commission as they meet the requirements laid down in Commission Decision 2001/812/EC.  The inspection facilities and procedures and processes in place are regularly audited by inspectors from the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office to ensure that the standards are maintained.

The inspection facilities at Felixstowe are owned and operated by the Port of Felixstowe who present consignments there on behalf of the importer or person responsible for the load for Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority to examine.

Products Subject to Import Checks

The Commission Regulations list the products that are subject to checks.  The list of products that are covered by CR 669/2009 are reviewed every 6 months by a committee at the European Commission.  The current list can be found by checking the information registry on the right hand side of this page.  

The products that are covered by CIR (EC) 884/2014 and CIR (EU) 2018/1660 include within the legislation a static list of products with known health risks.

Pre-export checks - Import Concessions

The law allows reduced levels of checking to be carried out at import for food and feed under agreement where specified checks have been carried out before import.
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Common Entry Document (CED)

The Common Entry Document (CED) is a document that the importer uses as pre-notification of the import and that the DPE uses to show the outcome of the checks.  The CED is established in Annex II of Commission Regulation 669/2009. Guidance on how to complete the CED can be found in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 323/2014 and in CIR (EC) 884/2014.

After the checks are finished the CED will be completed by the Port Health Officer. The checks that have been carried out will be indicated and the document signed and stamped. The original CED will be returned to the importer/agent and must, in the case of imports, travel with the load to the first establishment after Customs clearance where it must be retained for 1 year

The CED is generated and submitted to port health online using the TRACES system.  Specific guidance on the completion of the CED on TRACES.

Documentary Check

All high risk imports are subjected to a documentary check – an assessment of the CED, health certificate (where required) and accompanying commercial documentation, which may include bill of lading, invoice and packing list.

Identity Check

Most consignments are also subject to an identity check which involves verification that the product, labelling, stamps and other necessary product and or package information conform to the declaration on the health certificates and EU legislation.

Physical Check

A percentage of consignments must also be physically checked to see that it is fit for its intended purpose. The physical check may include sampling the product to look for pathogenic micro-organisms or illegal contaminants such as pesticide residues, heavy metals, or process contaminants (as specified by the law).

Physical Checking Frequency

The EU law specifies the rates of physical checks.  These levels are reviewed every 3 months by the European Commission. 

Pre notification

A requirement of the legislation is that importers notify the authority responsible DPI/ DPE of the intended arrival of all controlled products and this notification must be made before the consignment is landed. Notification is by submission of a CED with part 1 completed. TRACES can be used to generate the CED.


The legislation provides that the cost of carrying out controls on these consignments can be recharged to the importer.  The charges must be paid before the consignment can be released for free circulation.

Standard charges have been calculated for the carrying out of checks, additional charges are then added for laboratory examination or analysis where this is required.  The current fees can be found here.

Satisfactory checks

On satisfactory completion of the checks at the DPE, consignments may be released for free circulation into the Community. Consignments may also be released for further processing and use as feed. 

Unsatisfactory Checks

Products failing to satisfy import conditions may be re-exported to a country outside the EEA. However, if the consignment is deemed to be a risk to human/ or animal health, or where the person responsible for the consignment fails to comply with a direction to re-export, it must instead be sent for destruction.

All costs for destruction are to be met by the person responsible for the consignment.

Where, following checks on a product, a notice is served requiring that product is to be re-exported or destroyed, an appeal may usually be brought to a Magistrates Court. This right must be exercised within one month of the notice being served.  On receipt of a notice, recipients are advised to contact their legal advisers if they wish to appeal against the notice.

Personal Imports

There are not any detailed rules that set out any rules in respect of personal imports.  However, under CIR 884/2014 and CIR 2018/1660, it is established that a consignment of 20kg or less is not subject to checks.  Commission Regulation 669/2009 does not establish a limit.  In addition compound products consisting of less than 20% nut/fig content are out of scope.


The EU law is implemented in England by the Official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2009

More Information

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) take the lead in Central Government; in the law they are the Central Competent Authority.  The FSA are responsible for the policy and legislation for NAO imports.  They maintain a website with imports information, and provide advice and guidance. 

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Related Web Links

  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 178/2002
    Overarching Council Regulation laying down general principles of food law. Sits above the Regulation 882/2004 and Commission Decision 97/78(EC)
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 Official controls feed and food
    Council Regulation making arrangements for the import controls in respect of food and feed (and food related items).
  • Customs Tariff/Commodity Codes

    CN codes can be checked online using the trade tariff on the website.

  • EU Food Safety Website
    The European Commission generates almost all of the legislation that is applied to imports to ensure smooth functioning of the internal market and as part of their commitment to make Europe's citizens healthier and safer. They have their own website Europa where they provide information about EU policy.
  • EU Law EUR-Lex search
    The European Commission generates almost all of the legislation that is applied to imports to ensure smooth functioning of the internal market and as part of their commitment to make Europe's citizens healthier and safer. They have their own website Europa  where they publish legislation. New legislation is published daily in the Official Journal.
  • Food Standards Agency - Imported Food Information
    The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) lead on policy affecting imports of fish and other food safety and standards controls. The Imported Food Branch provide a helpline for general enquiries about food imports who can be contacted by email
  • Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Clearances

    HMRC Her Majesties Revenue and Customs are responsible for ensuring that controlled consignments from third countries have undergone border checks and the charges have been paid before releasing consignments for import.

  • Public Health England - Microbiology

    Public Health England is the body responsible for carrying out microbiological analysis on food, feed and water samples. Arrangements are in place to transport samples under temperature control to the laboratory in London where the analysis is carried out.