Importing Animal Origin Food and Feed Products (POAO)

Why we have border controls

Controls are in place under UK law to make sure imported products meet European  Union standards for animal and public health.

Imports are checked at border inspection posts approved to handle each type of product. Felixstowe is approved to inspect imports for and not for human consumption.

We follow a rigorous process which includes document checks and  product examinations to establish the safety of imported products and we charge a fee for the service payable by the importer. 

Where border checks are carried out

There are two inspection facilities at Felixstowe for products of animal origin, one for refrigerated products and animal by-products and another for animal products for human consumption carried at ambient temperature.

Both facilities are approved by DEFRA and the European Union and regularly audited by the Animal and Plant Health Agency to ensure standards are maintained.

The border inspection post at Felixstowe is owned and operated by the Port of Felixstowe which presents consignments there on behalf of the importer, or person responsible for the load, for Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority to examine.

What we check

Commission Decision 2007/275/EC lists the products that are subject to veterinary checks and includes products such as:

  • red meat, farmed game and poultry
  • fish and shellfish
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • composite products*
  • animal by-products such as petfood dog chews, dried meal worms for wild bird feed, feathers, wool
  • hay and straw

*The rules about composite products (products for human consumption consisting of processed product of animal origin combined with plant material) are complex. Further guidance on the legislation and import conditions is available under Composites.

Complying with import conditions

Products can only be imported from countries appearing on lists published by the Commission.

Products must also originate from approved or registered premises and must comply with animal and public health conditions for the raw material used and the production process.

Import conditions must be complied with for a consignment to be permitted import and free circulation within the EU.

As a general rule, all products of animal origin will require health certification issued by the competent authority of the exporting country containing declarations of compliance with the public and animal health criteria laid down in the import conditions.

Consignments of products of animal origin may not be removed from the border inspection post until all veterinary checks are complete and the required fees paid.

Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED)

This document is used by the person responsible for the load as notification of the import and by the border inspection post to show the outcome of the checks. The CVED is established in Commission Regulation 136/2004.

After the checks are finished, the CVED is completed by the OVS or fish inspector. The original CVED 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 CVED is generated and submitted to Port Health online using the TRACES system.

How we check imports at Felixstowe

Documentary Check

All animal origin imports covered by veterinary checks are subjected to a documentary check, including an assessment of the CVED, public and  animal health certificates and accompanying commercial documentation, which may include bill of lading, invoice and packing list.

Identity Check

Consignments are also subject to an identity check which involves verification that the product, health marks, stamps and other necessary product and 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 the product remains fit for its intended purpose. The physical check may include sampling the product to look for pathogenic micro-organisms or contaminants such as residues of veterinary drugs or heavy metals.

From time to time, border inspection posts may be instructed to vary the rate of checking and type of sampling because of known problems in the exporting country.

Physical Checking Frequency

Commission Decision 94/360/EC prescribes the level of physical checks for certain products. In general the minimum number of consignments to be subjected to a physical check are 20% for red meat and  meat products and fish, 50% for poultry meat, honey, dairy products and shellfish, and at between 1% and 10% for most products of animal origin that are not intended for human consumption. For certain products where there is a known health risk the European Commission may prescribe a higher level of checking which may include compulsory sampling.

The European Union has negotiated equivalence agreements with New Zealand and Canada and imports from these countries are subject to lower physical checks and in the case of New Zealand the charges levied for imports are at a reduced level.

Satisfactory checks

On satisfactory completion of the veterinary checks at the BIP, consignments may be released for free circulation into the European Union.

Unsatisfactory Checks

Products failing to satisfy import conditions may be re-dispatched to a country outside the European Economic Area.

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-dispatch, it must instead be sent for destruction.

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

Where, following veterinary checks on a product, a notice is served requiring that product is to be re-dispatched 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.

Judicial Review is still the only form of redress available for some enforcement notices under the Regulations. On receipt of a notice, recipients are advised to contact their legal advisers if they wish to appeal against the notice.

What we charge for checking imports

A standard minimum charge is levied which is set out in legislation. Where the cost to the authority of administering the veterinary checks is higher, the legislation provides that the actual cost can be levied. Further charges for laboratory examination or analysis may also be levied.

Please refer to our schedule of charges.

Other sources of information on import controls

Smuggled Imports

The responsibility for enforcing the controls in relation to illegal imports at ports has been assigned to Border Force. Local Authorities are responsible for this activity inland where goods have been Customs cleared.

Personal Imports

Details of the rules on personal imports for products of animal origin on GOV.UK.


The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations 2011 SI 2011 No.1197.

General Information

Defra are the lead department for veterinary checks and are responsible for the policy and legislation for POAO imports.  It is the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who look after the delivery of checks at Border Inspection Posts.

Advice and guidance on importing and exporting animal products can be found on GOV.UK. Details on many of the requirements can be found in the OVS notes which are issued to the BIPS.  Further  information can be found in the BIP manual.

The FSA website is a good source of information on imported food for both commercial and personal imports. 

The EU Commission also has a website dedicated to veterinary checks which contains a wealth of information and answers to frequently asked questions.


We know how difficult it can be to select the correct TRACES entry and to match the common names on the commercial documents with the Scientific Names on the Health Certificate. Further information about completing TRACES is available here. To make this easier for you and to help you get this right we have developed a search tool to assist you.

The Search Tool is linked to a database of fish species. It is not an exhaustive list of all the world’s fish species, but it does cover over 2000 species including all of the fish species that have been imported through Felixstowe in the last 12 months. We will do our best to keep the database up to date and will add species and make amendments based on TRACES updates. However, if you are searching for a species that you know will be imported through Felixstowe and cannot find it in our database, please use this form to submit the information to us for investigation.