Import of Polyamide and Melamine Plastic Kitchenware from China and Hong Kong

Import Controls

Europe wide controls over the importation of certain types of plastic kitchenware are in place.  The import controls were introduced as issues with harmful chemicals from the plastic getting into food have been found.  Inspectors from the European Commission visited China and were concerned that there are not adequate controls over manufacturing in place.  As a result the EU law was introduced setting out import rules requiring that consignments are analysed before they are shipped and the results submitted to Port Health with a Declaration.

The Food Standards Agency is responsible for issuing UK law which sets out the arrangements for the enforcement of the EC Regulation. This law is enforced by Port Health.  Customs have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that controlled consignments are not released for free circulation unless confirmation has been received that the consignment is compliant.


Commission Regulation (EU) 284/2011 establishes the import conditions. 

The Plastic Kitchenware (Conditions on Imports from China)(England) Regulations 2011 have been published in England to provide enforcement powers.

Designated Port

The law establishes that plastic kitchenware can only be imported through a port designated as a First Point of Introduction. Felixstowe, Harwich International Port and the Port of Ipswich have all been granted approval to receive such products. A full list of ports approved to receive plastic kitchenware is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

Controlled Products

The regulation applies to plastic products made from polyamide and melamine that fall under CN code ex 3924 10 00 (tableware and kitchenware).

A CN Code amendment was made to assist with the declaration of goods that are not in scope of the Regulation.  The Kitchenware code was broken down into consignments that are consigned from China or Hong Kong and those that are from other countries.

For Kitchenware containing polyamide or melamine from:- 

China or Hong Kong use 3924 10 00 11
For other countries use:- 3924 10 00 19

For other products for example tableware which may include polyamide or melamine items use 39 24 10 00 90

Further information about out of scope products and clearances can be found below. 

Plastic kitchenware is defined as plastic materials and articles falling under CN Code ex 3924 10 00 that :-

  • are intended to come into contact with food,
  • are already in contact with food
  • can reasonably be expected to come into contact with food

Note:- this definition is not the same as the definition used in the Customs code.

Plastic materials and articles are defined as:-

  1. materials and articles and parts thereof consisting exclusively of plastics;
  2. plastic multi-layer materials and articles held together by adhesives or by other means;
  3. materials and articles referred to in points a) or b) that are printed and/or covered by a coating;
  4. plastic layers or plastic coatings, forming gaskets in caps and closures, that together with those caps and closures compose a set of two or more layers of different types of materials;
  5. plastic layers in multi-material multi-layer materials and articles.

(Paragraphs a – e Article 2 Commission Regulation 10/2011)

Controlled Countries

Products originating in or consigned from China and Hong Kong are controlled.

Import Control - documentation requirements

Imports of controlled consignments will only be permitted where the consignment is accompanied by a declaration and a laboratory report demonstrating compliance with the limits set down in the law. (An example declaration can be downloaded here.)

Port Health Detention

Ships manifests are checked for imports of controlled kitchenware.  Manifest descriptions such as plastic kitchenware, restaurant supplies or similar will be detained as will consignments with unclear descriptions.

Out of scope consignments

If a consignment is detained which is not covered by the requirements you will need to provide information to Port Health to prove this.

Plastic Kitchenware (polyamide/ melamine) manufactured or consigned from countries other than China and Hong Kong

  • Commercial documents (copy bill of lading, invoice, packing list) clearly showing the country of manufacture and the country where the goods have been consigned from
  • Confirmation of the full CN code the goods are being entered under.  CN code 3924 10 00 19 has been introduced for polyamide or melamine articles from countries other than China or Hong Kong. You will need to advise port health of the code that has been used as the the information from the Customs entry is not available to port health.

Plastic (not in contact with food) manufactured or consigned from China or Hong Kong

Commercial documents (copy bill of lading, invoice, packing list) giving details of the products in the consignment and details of the CN code/s the goods are to be entered under.

Plastic kitchenware from China or Hong Kong not made of polyamide or melamine

  • Commercial documents (copy bill of lading, invoice, packing list)
  • Information regarding the type of plastic the product/s are made from.
  • Confirmation of the full CN code the goods are being entered under if the product is not polyamide or melamine you should use  CN code 3924 10 00 90. You will need to advise port health of the code that has been used as the the information from the Customs entry is not available to port health.

Further information about the Customs clearance procedures for consignments that are out of scope can be found in the Customs Information Paper CIP(11)53  and in the updated CIP(11)55

Prior Notification

The importer is required to notify Port Health of the estimated date and time of physical arrival of the consignment 2 working days in advance.

The declaration is used as the prior notification and can be generated and submitted to port health online using the PHILIS system.  The pre-notification can be made by the importer or his agent/ representative, however, an original declaration signed by the importer must be submitted.   

What are the limits that apply?

Polyamide kitchenware
The report must demonstrate that the item does not release into foods (or food simulants) primary aromatic amines in a detectable quantity. (The detection quantity is 0.01mg/kg.)

Melamine kitchenware
The report must demonstrate that they do not release into foods (or food simulants) formaldehyde in a quantity exceeding 15 mg/kg.

Checks on Imports

Checks will be carried out as follows:-

 Documentary Checks

Plastic kitchenware from China and Hong Kong which is covered by the requirements of the legislation must be accompanied by a declaration and analytical results for the products.  In practice port health will require the following documents:-

The Declaration

Port Health has prepared some guidance on the completion of the Declaration which can be downloaded  here

Please read this guidance document before submitting your document on

 Consignments and Declarations 

Analytical results documentation

The requirements for these documents are that for:-

It is not expected that original analytical results documentation will be submitted. Analytical results documentation for products can be used to cover numerous consignments arriving at different times, however it is essential that, through the documentation, the analytical report can be tied in with each consignment that arrives.

Port Health in carrying out the documentary check will need to ensure that every item in each consignment is covered by an analytical certificate so if the certificates submitted are covering several items this will need to be made clear to us.

Completion of checks

Port Health is  required to endorse the declaration indicating whether the goods are acceptable or not.

The Port Health Release notification is accepted by the HMRC National Clearance Hub as evidence that checks have been completed for consignments arriving at seaports.  Otherwise a copy of this declaration will need to be supplied to Customs as evidence. 

Release pending the results of checks

The European legislation makes provision for onward transportation of consignments which have been sampled to an inland control point (customs managed storage facility).  Port Health have consulted with our Analyst and have been advised that the turnaround time for sample analysis will be approximately 7 days; in light of this, a decision has been made not to permit the routine movement of consignments pending the results of checks.  There is a possibility that early samples may be slightly delayed whilst testing procedures are established.

We will keep the analytical turnaround times under review and if necessary we will introduce procedures for onward transportation. If we introduce this an additional charge will be payable when onward transportation is requested. This will be set when required.

Satisfactory checks

On satisfactory completion of the checks consignments may be released for free circulation into the Community.


The English legislation provides for the charging of fees for the checking of documentation and the examination and sampling of consignments.  This includes a fee to cover the analytical costs.  A fee will also be payable for the additional controls in relation to any non-compliant consignments.

The charges payable are available on the fees page.

In line with our current arrangements for the consignments subject to statutory controls, all fees must be paid prior to release.

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 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.   In addition for polyamide kitchenware articles may be shredded and melted and the resulting product formed into articles for purposes other than for food contact (if suitable facilities are available).

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

Where checks are unsatisfactory a legal notice will be served setting out the reasons for the failure and the options available.  If there are reasons to believe that this is not in accordance with the law 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.

Smuggled Imports

Consignments that are not pre-notified to Port Health are an illegal import.  The responsibility for enforcing the controls in relation to illegal imports lies with the Port Health Authority.  Local Authorities are responsible for this activity inland.  In addition to port health monitoring and controlling imports via the Destin8 system, HMRC is responsible for ensuring that consignments of plastic kitchenware have been checked before their import system CHIEF will allow clearance to be given.  CHIEF uses the CN Code of the product to determine whether checks are required.  To prove that checks have been completed a copy of  the completed Declaration can be used.

Personal Imports

There are not any detailed rules that set out any rules in respect of personal imports. 


Guidance on the completion of the Declaration has been prepared by Port Health.

If you wish to discuss the import of a consignment please contact us.


Implementing Regulations have been published in England to provide enforcement powers. The Plastic Kitchenware (Conditions on Imports from China) (England) Regulations 2011 were published on the 16th June 2011 and came into force on the 1st July 2011.

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 public health in relation to food imports.  They maintain a website with imports information, provide advice and guidance. 

Reviewed March 2017

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Related Web Links

  • Customs Tariff/Commodity Codes

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

  • 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