Importing Polyamide and Melamine Plastic Kitchenware from China and Hong Kong

Why we have border controls

Europe wide controls are in place as harmful chemicals from plastics have been found to get into food.

The European Commission believes that there are not adequate controls over manufacturing in place. As a result, consignments are analysed before they are shipped and the results submitted to Port Health with a Declaration.

UK Customs is responsible for ensuring that controlled consignments are not released for free circulation unless confirmation has been received that the consignment is compliant.

Where border checks are carried out

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 are all approved ports.

UK Customs is responsible for ensuring that controlled consignments are not released for free circulation unless confirmation has been received that the consignment is compliant.

What we check

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

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

NB the above definition is not the same as the definition used in the Customs code.

Plastic materials and articles means:

  • materials and articles and parts thereof consisting exclusively of plastics;
  • plastic multi-layer materials and articles held together by adhesives or by other means;
  • materials and articles referred to in points a) or b) that are printed and/or covered by a coating;
  • 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;
  • plastic layers in multi-material multi-layer materials and articles.

Origin of the products requires different codes:

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

Technical limits

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.

Potential 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.

Smuggled Imports

Consignments not pre-notified to Port Health are illegal imports.

HMRC is responsible for ensuring that consignments of plastic kitchenware are checked before clearance is given. To prove that checks have been completed a copy of  the completed Declaration can be used.

Personal Imports

There are no detailed rules on personal imports.

What Documents are required?

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. (See an example declaration.)

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

The declaration is used as the prior notification and can be generated and submitted to Port Health using the PHILIS system. The prior notification can be made by the importer or an agent or representative, but an original declaration signed by the importer must be submitted.

Out of scope consignments

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

Examples of out of scope consignments:

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 refers to 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 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 products 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 information from the customs entry is not available to us

How we check imports at Felixstowe

Documentary checks are carried out on 100% of consignments, identity and physical checks (including laboratory analysis) are carried out on 10% of consignments selected at random.

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:

  • Commercial Documents (copy bill of lading, invoice, packing list)
  • Declaration (signed by the Importer not the agent)
  • Analytical results

The Declaration

Please read the guidance document (PDD completion guidance) before submitting your declaration on www.PHILIS.co.uk

  • A Declaration will be needed for every consignment. 
  • Separate Declaration documents will be required for consignments of melamine and polyamide. 
  • Declaration documents can be accompanied by multiple analytical results documents, details of each document need to be included on the document.
  • The Declaration document submitted to us needs to be an original document;
  • Supporting documentation including analytical reports can be copy documents.  

Consignments and Declarations 

All of the articles declared to us on a single Declaration document will be treated as a consignment. 

It will not be possible to change the defined consignment by adding or removing items once checks have begun.

Sampling activity is based on the defined consignment as notified to us by the Declaration document.

Where multiple items are included on a Declaration and any sampled item from that consignment is found to be unsatisfactory the whole of the consignment covered by the Declaration will be refused entry and dealt with in accordance with the findings of the analysis.

Where separate Declarations are submitted for items in a container these will be treated as separate consignments.

Analytical results documentation

Polyamide products – Testing for poly aromatic amines must have been undertaken and the results given. Details of the test undertaken should be included and the limit of detection of the test used provided.

Melamine products – Testing for formaldehyde must have been undertaken and the results given. Details of the test undertaken should be included.

We do not expect original analytical results documentation to be submitted. Analytical results documentation for products can also be used to cover numerous consignments arriving at different times. If that is the case, it is essential that analytical reports can be related to each consignment that arrives.

In carrying out the documentary check we will need to ensure that every item in each consignment is covered by an analytical certificate, so please make it clear to us if the certificates submitted relate to several items.

Completion of checks

Port Health will 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

There is no 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.

Satisfactory checks

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

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.

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.

What we charge for checks

Fees are payable for checking documentation and examination or sampling consignments, including analytical costs. A fee is also payable for additional controls in relation to any non-compliant consignments.

All fees must be paid prior to release.

Please see our schedule of charges.