Movements or imports of certain non-animal origin food from non EU countries and Great Britain (GB) into Northern Ireland (NI) are subject to food safety public health import requirements which include importers registering as food business operators with their district council and submitting the necessary import paperwork for the consignment of food or feed being transported.
Consignments are risk assessed and inspected by authorised District Council staff at Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne ports. Some consignments may be randomly chosen for inspection at the port facilities in NI.
Food and feed of non animal origin
To import food of non-animal origin, you will need to be a registered food business with your local District Council. You can register your food business online and use this online system to make changes to your registration.
All food and feed for human and animal consumption imported into NI must comply with EU food and feed safety regulations and related requirements.
High risk food and feed of non animal origin
Some foods of non-animal origin are considered high risk food of non-animal origin (HRFNAO) because they pose health risks associated with the country of origin. That is why they are subject to either:
- temporary increased controls listed under Annex I of Regulation 2019/1793
- emergency measure listed under Annex II of Regulation 2019/1793 with
This regulation is usually updated every six months, with commodities being removed, added or remaining within the Annex lists. You can find an overview of all country specific requirements on the Foodstuffs with current European Union restrictions page.
Examples of HRFNAO include:
- groundnuts such as peanuts in shell from Bolivia or Madagascar
- dried grapes (raisins) from Turkey
- herbs such as coriander and basil from Vietnam
As an importer it is your responsibility to think about the foods or feeds you trade and where they originate from. You will need to check your traded goods against those foods or feeds listed in the Annexes of Regulation 2019/1793 (as amended). Consolidated versions of the regulation are available on the Eur-Lex website. You can get more information from the district council in whose area the port, which you will be bringing your consignment into, is located.
You also need to consider whether the ingredients in the foods or feeds you are importing or moving are considered high risk. Compound foods are those listed in Table 2 of Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2019/1793. They include confectionery, chocolate, bread, pastries, cakes and biscuits, that contain HRFNAO ingredients listed in Annex II due to the risk of aflatoxins. If the high-risk ingredients are in excess of 20% of the final product, the food will be subject to import checks.
There are currently no HRFNAO which originate from GB. However, high-risk foods and feeds not of animal origin imported into GB and then transported to NI will be subject to controls in NI.
HRFNAO movement and imports requirements
HRFNAO have specific import requirements and must enter NI through a designated point of entry (POE). The requirements include:
- Importers of HRFNAO into NI should be registered on TRACES NT, an EU online platform used when importing or exporting certain products including food of animal origin and certain food of non-animal origin. You can find guidance on how to register on TRACES NT on the TRACES Trade Control and Expert System
- Importers must pre-notify the arrival of HRFNAO into NI using a Common Health Entry Document (CHED-D) on TRACES NT. This must be done at least 24 hours prior to arrival. A model for a CHED-D is in Annex II Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715. When completing the CHED-D document the importer must include the vehicle registration number (VRN) or the container registration number (CRN) (box I.27 on the CHED-D)
- Importes require additional import documentation attached alongside the CHED-D on TRACES NT:
1. For HRFNAO listed in the Annex I of Regulation 2019/1793 this includes commercial documentation (such as invoices and packaging lists that supports the information declared in Part I of the CHED)
2. For HRFNAO listed in Annex II of Regulation 2019/1793 this includes an export health certificate (EHC) relevant to each consignment. The EHC is signed by an authorised officer of the local authority from where the food is despatched. Defra as the responsible government department for export matters will provide further guidance on EHCs
FSA terminology explainer: What is meant by the term 'consignment'?
A consignment means a quantity of goods covered by the same official certificate, official attestation, or any other document, conveyed by the same means of transport and coming from the same country.
Temporary increased controls
There are temporary increased controls for some HRFNAO from certain non-EU countries (including those imported into GB and moved into NI). This is due to a known or emerging risk, or because of widespread non-compliance with food law.
You can find a list of the food of non-animal origin subject to a temporary increase of controls at points of entries in Annex I of Regulation 2019/1793. This list is reviewed by the Commission at least twice a year.
For food that has these specific import requirements as outlined in Annex I of Regulation 2019/1793, the person responsible for the consignment must complete a Common Health Entry Document (CHED-D) through TRACES NT in advance of the arrival of the consignment into NI. A model for CHED-D is in Annex II Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715.
The vehicle registration number (VRN) or the container registration number (CRN) (box I.27 on the CHED-D) used to transport the consignment must also be provided in the CHED-D on TRACES NT along with copies of commercial documentation.
Prior notification of 24 hours is required for the import of high risk foods and feeds not of animal origin. Foods and feeds must be presented at a point of entry (POE) designated for the receipt of that foods or feeds. POEs include Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne port.
The increased control mechanism means that competent authorities such as District Councils for high risk foods not of animal origin and DAERA on high risk feeds not of animal origin will:
carry out checks on all the documents accompanying the consignments
conduct identity and physical checks, including laboratory analysis, at a frequency set down in Annex I of Regulation 2019/1793 for the specific commodity being imported
Emergency measures are in place for a range of food commodities coming into NI if a food is likely to pose a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment.
Annex II of Regulation 2019/1793 lists the foods from certain countries subject to special conditions for the entry into NI due to contamination risk by, for example mycotoxins including aflatoxins, pesticide residues, chemical, microbiological and other contamination e.g. unauthorised dyes, additives. This list is reviewed by the European Commission at least twice a year.
In addition, there are a number of emergency measures under other legislation with import conditions that are specific to each measure:
genetically modified (GM) rice from China - GM rice from China cannot move into NI from GB and can only be imported directly from China into NI or via other EU Member States (MSs)
food from Japan post Fukushima - food from certain prefectures in Japan cannot be moved from GB to NI and can only be imported directly from Japan into NI or via other EU MSs
You can find more details on common restricted foods from certain countries including China and Japan on the NI import requirements for restricted food stuff page.
Annex IIa of Regulation 2019/1793 lists the foods from certain non-EU countries that are prohibited from being imported into NI.
For foods with emergency measures you must have:
Common Health Entry Document (CHED-D). A model for CHED-D is in Annex II to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715
Official certificate, also known as an export health certificate
Certificate of analysis (CoA) (obtained from an official laboratory)
If you want to move products from GB into NI, you can find out how to get the Export Health Certificate and Certificate of analysis in Scotland, Wales and England on GOV.UK website page Exporting or moving high risk food and feed of non-animal origin to the EU or Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.
Point of entry checks for HRFNAO
Document checks can be carried out, and the products cleared before the food products arrive at the point of entry into Northern Ireland. To avoid delays it is essential that all necessary documents are complete, accurate and submitted within the notification timelines. The 24-hour pre-notification period will allow point of entry (POE) staff time to raise any errors with importers and ensure a swift journey through the POE as possible.
Identity and physical checks
This a visual inspection to ensure that documents accompanying the food consignment match the labelling and the content of the consignment.
A physical check is a check on food which may include checks on:
the means of transport
Sampling for analysis and laboratory testing may be done and any other check necessary to verify compliance with food law.
Please note that it can take 3-7 days for a laboratory to provide sampling results for HRFNAO. During this period, the consignment will remain under Customs control.
There will be a 3-month grace period from certification, from 1 January 2021 through to 1 April 2021 for authorised traders such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers.
If you are moving food of non-animal origin from GB to NI, you will not require official certification, such as export health certificates, phytosanitary certificates or marketing standards certification.
You can find more information about the grace period for HRFNAO on the GOV.UK website page Exporting or moving high risk food and feed of non-animal origin to the EU or Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.