Since leaving the European Union on 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom has introduced sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions at its borders to control imports of animals, plants and all products derived from them. These restrictions will be tightened from the end of January 2024*. As a result, any movement of goods from France to the UK will have to comply with the new administrative formalities required by the country.
Introduction of SPS border control processes in the UK
What does an SPS inspection involve?
SPS checks involve verifying that sanitary and phytosanitary products imported from France comply with all the sanitary rules imposed by the United Kingdom.
An SPS inspection is carried out on a batch of goods covered by one or more veterinary or phytosanitary certificates.
The inspection takes place in three stages:
This is carried out systematically, regardless of the goods being imported. The inspection authorities will check the accuracy of the information provided at the time of pre-notification, as well as the sanitary and phytosanitary certificate and any other document required for importing the goods.
This is systematically carried out on live animals and products of animal origin. The inspection authorities will check that the information on the health documents corresponds to the goods being transported.
This is systematically carried out when live animals are transported. The inspection authorities will carry out a thorough examination of the goods. This may include taking samples for official analysis.
In the event of non-conformity, the goods will be immobilised pending rectification, if possible. Otherwise, the goods will be returned to their country of origin or destroyed on the spot.
What steps do I need to take?
From 31 January 2024*, live animals, animal products and “high priority” and “regulated” plants and plant products will have to be pre-notified to the UK inspection authorities. Goods must also be accompanied by a sanitary and phytosanitary certificate.
So, before the goods leave, you need to make sure that you have:
- All the documents required by the British sanitary and phytosanitary authorities. These must be presented at the SPS check carried out by the British health and plant health authorities.
- The French customs export declaration, or any document relating to import formalities in the United Kingdom.
Live animals and animal products
From the end of January 2024*, all imports of animals and foodstuffs of animal origin will have to be subject to pre-notification. In addition, a health certificate will have to be issued.
Physical checks on food of animal origin at border inspection posts will start in January 2024*.
In the case of live animals, these checks will begin in January 2024*.
Regulated” plants and plant products
By the end of January 2024*, all imports of low-risk plants and plant products, known as “regulated plants”, must be subject to pre-notification. A phytosanitary certificate will also be required.
In addition, physical checks on “high-priority” plants and plant products, which until now have been carried out at the place of destination, will be carried out from autumn 2023* at border inspection posts.
Use of the British information system IPAFFS “Import of products, animals, food and feed system”
Important: The steps described below are essential to avoid the rejection or destruction of goods due to unresolved major non-conformities.
It is crucial that both the French exporting company and the UK importer are registered with the relevant plant and animal health and safety authorities.
To carry out this pre-notification, the UK importer must be provided with information on the products, their origin, weight and species, as well as the reasons for and addresses of dispatch and destination.
In conclusion, good coordination between exporting companies and the importer, as well as compliance with deadlines and pre-notification requirements, are essential to ensure the successful export of goods to the UK without encountering problems related to major non-compliances.
Health and plant health certificates
From January 2024*, all goods of animal or plant origin leaving France for the UK must be accompanied by a (phyto)sanitary certificate.
This will accompany the goods until they pass through the UK border controls. It certifies that the goods being transported comply with the sanitary and phytosanitary conditions required by the United Kingdom.
In addition, all requests must be made at least 48 hours before the goods leave for the United Kingdom, excluding weekends and public holidays.
The CHED (Common Health Entry Document) electronic form therefore needs to be completed to include all the relevant and necessary information on the goods being transported.
The latter is divided into four categories depending on the goods imported:
- CHED-A, for live animals.
- CHED-P, for products of animal origin.
- CHED-D, for non-animal feed.
- CHED-PP, for plants and plant products.
Brexit: the new UK import procedure, the ‘Border Target Operating Model’
The UK’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is a detailed plan to guide border management following the UK’s exit from the European Union as a result of Brexit. The BTOM has been developed by the UK government to ensure the smooth operation of border controls and to facilitate trade and the movement of people between the UK and the EU. The specific content of the BTOM may evolve over time in response to political, economic and social needs and developments. It is essentially a set of rules, procedures and protocols designed to ensure the smooth passage of goods, people and services between the UK and the EU, while maintaining a certain level of security and border control. The BTOM procedure will be phased in from the end of January 2024* as follows:
- 31st January 2024* Sanitary and phytosanitary certificates required for medium-risk animal products and plants from the EU.
- 30 April 2024* Introduction of risk-based documentary, identity and physical checks for high-risk animal products, plants, plant products and food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU.
- 31 October 2024* Safety and security declarations for EU imports will come into force from 31 October 2024. At the same time, we will introduce a reduced data set for imports.
* The date mentioned in this document is provided for information purposes only and is subject to change. We undertake to communicate any changes to the effective date as soon as we receive this information from the relevant UK authorities.
Please also note that any information previously communicated is subject to updating and that we decline all responsibility for any decision or action taken on the basis of this indicative date.
- The Border Target Operating Model: Draft for Feedback. Government of the United Kingdom, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-target-operating-model-draft-for-feedback.
- Import of Products, Animals, Food, and Feed System. Government of the United Kingdom, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/import-of-products-animals-food-and-feed-system.
- “The Border Target Operating Model: Draft for Feedback (HTML Version).” Government of the United Kingdom, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-target-operating-model-draft-for-feedback/the-border-target-operating-model-draft-for-feedback-html.