Controls at point of entry into the UK

Last updated:
28 December 2011
Some products can only come into the European Union (EU) through specific ports. For example, animal products (such as meat, dairy foods and fish) can only enter through a port with a Border Inspection Post (BIP). Some other foods that are not of animal origin have similar rules.

Products of animal origin (POAO)

A range of controls exist for POAO imported from outside the EU to protect both public and animal health. Imported POAO must be presented at a designated BIP for veterinary checks to be carried out and consignments failing the documentary, identity and physical 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.

See a flow chart showing the process for importing POAO into the UK (pdf document).

BIPs may be approved to handle either POAO intended for human consumption or POAO not intended for human consumption (e.g. feathers, hides, blood products) or both. See a list of the different types of UK BIPs on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs website.

Examples of animal products imported for human consumption that must be checked include:

  • Meat, including fresh meat, meat products, minced meat, meat preparations, poultry meat, rabbit, farmed game meat and wild game meat
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Fish and fishery products
  • Milk and milk products
  • Honey
  • Gelatine and gelatine products

For a full list of products see Commission Decision 2007/275/EC (pdf document).

Once a consignment has passed veterinary checks, a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) is issued and the POAO is permitted free circulation within the EU. Free circulation is where food products can freely move within the EU without customs checks (although there may be national controls where there are risks to public health). Consignments failing veterinary checks must be re-exported outside of the European Community or destroyed. See a copy of a blank CVED and guidance for completion (pdf document).

Importers of POAO from a non-EU country have certain responsibilities at the point of entry into the UK. In particular they 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 consignment 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

For information on charges for veterinary checks see the appropriate legislation on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website:

Food not of animal origin (non-POAO)

Specific emergency controls are in place for certain food products not of animal origin from specified countries to reduce known human or animal health risks. See a list of such foodstuffs with current EU restrictions at the link below. Where emergency controls exist, there is usually a requirement for the Port Health Authority to conduct documentary checks and sampling for analysis or examination.

Importing through a suitable port

Most non-POAO may enter through any port, although importers should contact the port or contact the local authority in whose area the port is situated, to check that the port has the necessary facilities in place to handle food.

Importers should also be aware that some products from specific countries are subject to emergency controls and can only enter into the UK through designated ports. These are products likely to be contaminated with aflatoxins (such as nuts) and uncultivated wild mushrooms that may be contaminated with radiocaesium following the Chernobyl power station incident. Lists of designated ports for these products can be found in the Commission Decision and Regulation below.

You can also access a list of UK designated points of import (DPIs) for Regulation (EC) No. 1152/2009 and a list of UK designated points of entry (DPEs) for Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009

Designated ports for uncultivated wild mushrooms contaminated with radiocaesium from specific non-EU countries