Imports of Non Animal Origin products in the EU

Why we have border controls

Controls are in place under UK law to make sure imported products meet European Community standards.

Imports are checked at a Border Control Post (BCP) approved to handle each type of product. Felixstowe is approved to inspect imports of all categories of food and feed (except chilled feed imports subject to official controls).

We follow a rigorous process which includes document checks and physical product checks 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 separate inspection facilities at Felixstowe, covering refrigerated products and ambient temperature products. An allergen inspection area is also available for nut products.

The facilities are approved by FSA and the European Commission and are audited by inspectors from the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office to ensure that standards are maintained.

The border control 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

Food and feed that poses a risk to health is specifically controlled by EC law, it includes products identified as having an emerging risk. Products subject to aflatoxin contamination (including nuts, dried fruit and spices), and pesticide contamination.

For a complete list of other foods with current EU restrictions, please refer to the Food Standards Agency website.

The list of emerging risk products is reviewed every six months. 

Common Entry Document (CED)

Importers must notify the authority responsible for the BCP of the intended arrival of all controlled products and this notification must be made at least one working day before the expected arrival of the consignment. Notification is by submission of a CED with part one completed. TRACES can be used to generate the CED.

The CED is also used by the BCP to show the outcome of the checks. The model of the CED is provided in Annex IV of Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/1793.

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

The CED is generated and submitted to port health using the TRACES system.

How we check imports at Felixstowe

Documentary Check

All CED controlled imports are subjected to a documentary check including an assessment of the CED, health certificate and results of sampling and analysis (where required) and accompanying commercial documentation, which will include bill of lading, invoice and packing list.

Identity Check

Consignments may also subject to an identity check to verify that the product, labelling and other necessary product and or package information conform to the declaration on the health certificates and EU legislative requirements.

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 on specified products from specified countries and the European Commission reviews the rate every six months.

Satisfactory checks

On satisfactory completion of the checks, consignments may be released for free circulation into the Community. Consignments may also be released for further processing or alternative uses such as for 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 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

Under Article 1(3) of CIR 2019/1793 personal imports of controlled food and feed imports are permitted provided that the gross weight does not exceed 30kg, and the person importing the consignment can prove that it is not intended to be placed on the market but is for their personal consumption or use.

What we charge for checking imports

As an importer you are responsible for the cost of checking products. There a standard charges for checks, additional charges, may be added for laboratory examination or analysis if required. 

All charges must be paid before the consignment can be released for free circulation.

For details, please refer to our fees section.

More Information

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for policy and legislation for NAO imports. They maintain a website with imports information and provide advice and guidance.