Brexit-related issues for the agriculture, agrifood, fisheries and forestry sectors

Importers of agricultural, agrifood, wood products ans products of the sea, live animals or animal genetic material from the United Kingdom

During the transition period (1st February 2020 – 31st December 2020), the rules remain unchanged, for trade in particular, and the United Kingdom continues to apply EU rules. However, we recommend you plan as soon as possible for the changes to come. From 1st January 2021, import rules will be governed by one of the following scenarios:

  • if an agreement is reached on the future relationship before the end of the transition period, on 1st January 2021 that agreement will define the rules that apply to trade with the United Kingdom. However, the adoption of an agreement with the United Kingdom will not exempt companies from sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) border controls;
  • if the negotiations on the future relationships do not result in agreement before the end of the transition period, on 1st January 2021 the United Kingdom will be subject to the legal provisions applicable to third countries with which the EU does not have a trade agreement. Those legal provisions entail putting on EU external customs duties, customs checks and (phyto)sanitary and security controls on entry into EU territory (including fisheries catch certificates), in addition to the EU’s non-preferential rules of origin. Requirements imposed on imports by the EU will apply: the obligation to accompany goods, live animals and genetic material with a (phyto)sanitary certificate, the reimposition of customs duties and checks (customs, (phyto)sanitary, security controls, etc.) on entry into the EU, and so on.
  • The future relationship, whatever its nature, will lead to changes that should be planned for. In any case, the rules applicable to goods imports (plants, plant products, animal feed and animal products), live animals and animal genetic material from the United Kingdom will change and trade will probably flow less smoothly. Longer travel times for goods are to be expected in an initial phase starting on 1st January 2021.

The French inspection services have taken the necessary steps for continuity of import logistics flows from the United Kingdom, in particular with regard to human and physical resources enabling implementation of border checks.

What do the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls on imports involve ?

SPS import controls applied to consignments from third countries are carried out at the border at the first point of entry into the EU. The checks must be conducted in specific inspection facilities notified by Member States to the European Commission – border inspection posts – the construction of which is the responsibility of the organisations managing the entry points (port concession holders, for example). These inspections are determined by EU regulations and are carried out ahead of customs clearance procedures. They involve a document check on the (phyto)sanitary certificate, to which may be added identity verifications and physical inspections requiring physical presentation of the consignment at the border inspection post (on a random basis or systematically in the case of certain trade flows, e.g. live animals).

To find out more, you can download a presentation of the French general directorate for food (DGAL) on SPS controls on goods imported from United Kingdom ( French-language version (PDF, 1.33Mb); English-language version (PDF, 1.33Mb)).

  • More information on SPS import controls;
  • More information on the (phyto)sanitary requirements applicable to imports from third countries to the EU can be found on the Impadon website;
  • The model sanitary certificates for entry of livestock and animal products into the European Union from the United Kingdom are those currently in force for all third countries. They are available on TRACES-NT (Certificates / EU Import / Blank Certificates).

For more information, you can download a leaflet on SPS controls on goods imported from United Kingdom (PDF, 4.44 Mo) .

How is the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food preparing for the possible impacts of Brexit on sanitary and phytosanitary controls?

While awaiting the outcome of the negotiations on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is preparing for the roll-out, starting on 1st January 2021, of SPS border controls for flows coming from and going to the United Kingdom.

Where imports are concerned, the Ministry is working in close conjunction with the organisations managing the entry points along France’s Channel/North Sea coast with a view to setting up new border inspection posts or resizing existing facilities. The Ministry’s human resources have been enhanced for the deployment of new import control activities.

Where exports are concerned, the Ministry is strengthening certification services at regional level (SRALs) and in the French départements (DD(CS)PPs), and is working in partnership with FranceAgriMer to organise training sessions for exporters and its own staff, with particular emphasis on “first-time” exporters who have been trading with the United Kingdom but have never exported to a non-EU third country.

What types of SPS controls apply to products travelling via the “landbridge” between the continental European Union and Ireland?

The “Landbridge” refers to road haulage between Ireland and the continental European Union going via the United Kingdom. This therefore concerns trade in intra-EU goods involving road transit through a third country for which sanitary controls will be required at the end of the transition period on 1st January 2021.

Exports: For goods despatched from the European Union to Ireland:

Please go to the Irish government's website.

Imports: For imports from Ireland to the continental European Union:

The nature of the border controls will vary according to the products concerned:

- No checks on plants or on animal feed of non-animal origin;

- Document checks as follows:

  • Based on the sanitary certificate for intra-EU flows where required (e.g. live animals);
  • Based on TRACES prenotification for other goods;
  • For certain categories of goods (animal by-products): a seal check at the border inspection post.

For more information, you can download the information sheet on the " landbridge ans SPS controls (PDF, 3.51 Mo) ".

What does import certification for fisheries products involve?

Among the most important checks on imports of seafood products is the requirement prior to customs clearance of a catch certificate relating to the consignment(s) of such products when imported into EU territory.

A catch certificate, for imports or reimports, is the document with which the UK authorities attest to the legality of the conditions in which the imported products have been caught. It is authenticated by the precise identification and signature of the authorities notified to the European Commission for that purpose.

Verification of the existence and compliance of this certificate for UK imported or reimported fisheries products is essential and must be taken into account and required by the company concerned. It must not omit to notify it in advance to the UK company with which it has made its purchase.

If this certificate is missing or non-compliant, the consequence will be that the consignment or consignments will be blocked by Customs.

What rules apply to travelling with domestic carnivores (dogs, cats, ferrets)?

For individuals travelling from France to the United Kingdom accompanied by domestic carnivores:

From 1st January 2021, the United Kingdom’s sanitary authorities will implement a series of sanitary and phytosanitary import requirements for animals, plants and the products derived from them.

In October 2020, the UK authorities indicated in the UK guide on the border with the European Union, the “Border Operating Model”, that EU arrangements for non-commercial movements of pets from the European Union into the United Kingdom will not be subject to immediate change in 2021.

Any change in the UK’s requirements with regard to travelling with pets will be communicated on the following website:

At this stage, your pet (dog, cat, ferret) must meet the following requirements in the case of non-commercial movements:

  1. It must be identified (with an electronic chip).
  2. It must have a pet passport or have an official veterinary certificate from a third country.
  3. It must be validly vaccinated against rabies (animals at least 12 weeks old for vaccination at the first time of vaccination against rabies; vaccine protection and validity are established on elapse of a period of at least 21 days).

N.B.: A blood test (rabies antibody titre) will also be necessary if the animal is arriving in the United Kingdom from an “unlisted country”.

N.B.: The pet may be placed in quarantine for a maximum of four months at the owner’s cost if the above requirements are not met.

The number of authorised animals is limited to a maximum of five (unless exempted for domestic carnivores participating in competitions, exhibitions or sports events. In these cases, the owner or the authorised person must present written proof that the animals are in fact registered as participants in an event of one of the above types. Such animals must in this case be over six months old).

Additional important points:

If your dog is going to Ireland or the United Kingdom, it must:

  • be at least three months old;
  • have been treated for parasitic worms (Echinococcus) between 24 and 120 hours prior to arrival, such treatment being recorded in the passport by the administering veterinarian.

Additionally, entry of dogs into the country on private vessels is prohibited in the United Kingdom.

Any change in the UK’s sanitary requirements will be communicated via the following link:

For persons travelling from Great Britain to France or the European Union accompanied by domestic carnivores:

NB : This section does not apply to people living in Northern Ireland. The EU rules regarding travelling with domestic carnivores within the EU continue to apply to Northen Ireland.

1/ From 31 January 2021, the "EU pet  passport" issued in Great Britain will no longer be a valid document for travelling with pets to the EU.

If you are living in Great Britain and travelling with a dog, a cat or a ferret from Great Britain to France, you should comply with the requirements imposed by Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 :

  • Make sure your pet is identified by the implantation of an electronic transponder or by a clearly readable tattoo if applied before 3 July 2011.
  • Make sure your pet has a valid anti-rabies vaccination (the animal was at least 12 weeks old at the date the vaccine was administered; the period of validity of the vaccination starts not less than 21 days from the completion of the vaccination protocol ; the date of administration of the vaccine does not precede the date of identification).
  • Make sure your pet is accompanied by a health certificate issued by an official veterinarian in the UK, together with a proof of vaccination against rabies and a document proving your pet is identified. The health certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issuance and has to be presented for import checks within these 10 days of validity. The health is valid for a total of four months within the EU and Northern Ireland.

2/ If you are living in the EU (or in Northern Ireland) and returning from Great Britain to the EU with a dog, a cat or a ferret from the Great Britain to France after a temporary movement to Great Britain, you will have  to  be  accompanied  by  a  duly  filled-in  EU  pet  passport.  This passport must attest a valid anti-rabies vaccination and has to be presented for import checks.

For more information, you can download  an information sheet on travelling to the European Union with one or more domestic carnivores (PDF, 449.75 Ko)

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