Importing Meat

Importing Meat into the United Kingdom

Most food and drink products imported from the EU have no restrictions.

Most regulations are for food and drink that are imported from countries outside the EU. In this case you may need:

  • health certificates
  • import licences

Importing products of animal origin

  • Imports refer only to products which come from outside of the EU. Importing products of animal origin (POAO) or fishery products has potential hazards which all involved businesses should be aware of. 

This includes the following food groups:

  • meat, including fresh meat, meat products, minced meat, meat preparations, poultry meat, rabbit, farmed game meat and wild game meat
  • eggs and egg products
  • milk and milk products
  • honey gelatine and gelatine products

Importing composite product containing animal produce must follow similar rules.

A composite product is:

  • foodstuff that contains both processed animal products and products of plant origin, for example, salami
  • where the processing of the primary product is essential to the production of the final foodstuff 

Importing from a non-EU country
Those involved with importing products of animal origin from a non-EU country are required to

  • notify the BIP in advance of arrival of any POAO consignments
  • submit the relevant documentation to the BIP, including an original health certificate. The type of certification required is dependent on the product type and country of origin
  • present the goods to the BIP for veterinary checks to take place
  • pay for all charges for the inspection of the goods retain the CVED, issued upon clearance, for one year at the first point of destination of goods in the EU

Food supplements which are packaged for the final consumer containing glucosamine, chondroitin, or chitosan, do not need to be imported through a Border Inspection Post and are not subject to veterinary checks.

Border inspection posts
Border Inspection Posts (BIPS) handle products of animal origin which is being imported into the UK. These products must be presented at a designated border inspection post (BIP) for veterinary checks to be carried out.

Goods that fail these checks will not be allowed into the UK and may be destroyed. Animal products entering the UK from other EU Member States must have undergone import checks at a BIP where they entered the EU.

For a full list of controls see Commission Decision 2007/275/EC

There are two types of BIP which handle products of animal origin – those who handle products intended for human consumption and those who don’t. There are some exception posts which can process both.

See a list of the different types of UK BIPs on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affair.

Free circulation within the EU
Free circulation is the movement of food products freely within the EU without custom checks. Goods that fail checks upon entering the UK must be re-exported outside of the EU, destroyed.

Imported goods can receive free circulation within the EU once they have received a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED).

Once the CVED has been issued, the produce of animal origin is given free circulation within the EU. Blank CVED and guidance for completion

For information on charges for veterinary checks see the appropriate legislation for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).

Importing test samples of food containing POAO 
Including meat, honey or dairy products. 

If you want to import samples of POAO, then you must check what and how much is allowed and complete an authorisation form. For further information contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Find and download the POAO authorisation application form.

If APHA provides you with an authorisation exempting your product or products from checks at Border Inspection Posts, then these samples may be brought into the UK without the need to be accompanied by certification. But they must be accompanied by the original authorisation form.

However, if they are to be used in taste testing, they must be safe for human consumption, and also

  • not be contaminated
  • be from an approved non-EU country (see European Commission)
  • have been heat treated
  • only be consumed by employees and trade customers (i.e. representatives of companies that may purchase future products) who must be advised that the products have not been subjected to imported food checks at any Border Inspection Post on entry to the UK. Authorisations are not issued for samples intended for taste testing by the general public

Importers must ensure that their goods are safe and legal before they are purchased from producers and imported into the UK, therefore they may wish to test their products before importing them.

Public Analysts, who are skilled scientists, are available to test that food samples comply with food safety requirements by undertaking chemical analysis and/or by arranging for microbiological examination, although there is no legal requirement for importers to do so.

See our list of Official Food Control Laboratories in the UK.

In addition, there are several other laboratories in the UK and abroad that would undertake the work that importers may require. The importer could then arrange for the analysis report to form the basis of their quality controls for their supplier.

Importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin if there’s a no-deal Brexit

What you need to do to import animals, animal products, high-risk food and feed into the UK after a no-deal Brexit.

The process for notifying the UK authorities about imports will change after Brexit.

Import from a non-EU country
You’ll no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

You’ll need to use the UK’s new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for imports of:

  • live animals
  • products of animal origin (POAO) subject to veterinary checks
  • high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
  • germplasm
  • animal by-products (ABP) subject to veterinary checks

Health certificates and other documentation currently used for imports will be accepted by the UK for 6 months after Brexit. You’ll then need to use a new UK health certificate.

High-risk food or feed of non-animal origin
You must continue to import high-risk food or feed of non-animal origin into the UK through a designated point of entry (DPE). Find out which DPE you should use.

Live animals, germplasm, POAOs and ABP
You must continue to import live animals, germplasm, POAOs and ABP into the UK through a UK border inspection post (BIP). Find out which BIP you should use.
You must use IPAFFS to notify the UK BIP at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.

Import from a non-EU country via the EU
The process for transit consignments coming to the UK via the EU depends on what you’re importing.

POAO and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin
You must use IPAFFS for imports of animal origin and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin. You must also get your consignment checked at a UK BIP or DPE.

Live animals, germplasm and ABP
Live animals, germplasm and animal by-products can use any UK port if they have:

  • full veterinary checks at a recognised EU BIP
  • a valid CVED sent to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

If full veterinary checks have not been carried out, consignments must be checked at a UK BIP and use IPAFFS. You will not be able to use IPAFFS for transit consignments that do not enter the UK through a UK BIP and should follow the EU imports process.

For imports to Northern Ireland, email scanned copies of the CVED and health certificates to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) at as soon as they’re available. 

Import from an EU country
You’ll no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Initially the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) will not be used to notify of EU imports and you must use the IV66 form to notify UK authorities.

You must also follow this process if you’re importing to the UK from:

  • the crown dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man)
  • Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein
  • Iceland, except for live animal imports, which still need to be notified on IPAFFS and enter via a BIP

You must notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland at least 24 hours in advance for live animals and germplasm coming from the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

APHA only needs to be notified of germplasm from Iceland – live animal imports from Iceland will need to be notified on IPAFFS.

Importers must continue to notify APHA for:

  • equines and certain ABP consignments travelling under a DOCOM (notify APHA when the consignment arrives)
  • live animals that have to be notified under Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations (TARP) (for example, insects, reptiles and amphibians) but do not need a health certificate or official documentation

Imports from the EU will not need to be accompanied by a health certificate, unless a health certificate was required on the commodity before Brexit.

Check the import information notes on the APHA vet gateway if you’re not sure what documents you need. 

The process for EU imports is:

  1. UK importers must notify APHA of imports into the UK by submitting the IV66 form.
  2. APHA provides the importer a Unique Notification Number (UNN).
  3. Importers give the EU exporter/Official Veterinarian (OV) the UNN – this must be added to the commercial documentation or health certificate (if one is required).
  4. The UK importer is responsible for providing APHA with the completed health certificate (if one is required), which will be manually matched to the notification they previously raised.
  5. Once received, APHA will undertake all checks required on the health certificate.
  6. Where appropriate, APHA will undertake a risk-based post-import check (as happens currently).

Importing food and feed
The process for importing feed and food from the EU to the UK won’t change after Brexit.
There will be no additional controls or checks. You will not need to use IPAFFS.

Importing ABP not for human consumption
There will be no additional controls or checks for category 3 ABP imports from the EU after Brexit.

You may not be permitted to import category 1 and 2 ABP from the EU after Brexit. Defra will update this guidance when the process is confirmed.

Documents for transporters
Read the guidance on preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit.

If you’re a UK transporter transporting live animals in the EU, you’ll need to appoint a representative in an EU country. You’ll also need to apply to the relevant government department to get a:

  • transporter authorisation
  • certificate of competence
  • vehicle approval certificate
  • journey log (where necessary)

Other import requirements

You will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU. You must: