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Agri-food players, how to continue exporting to the United Kingdom in 2021?

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Brexit
Customs, health controls... Discover the impact of the trade agreement concluded with the United Kingdom on your export procedures.

After the end of the transition period, the EU and the UK concluded a trade and cooperation agreement on 24 December 2020, which came into force on an interim basis since 1 January 2021.

This agreement notably determines trade conditions for export, with significant and gradual changes in tariffs and phytosanitary regulations.

New opportunities for duty exemptions

Since 1 January 2021, all trade between the EU and the UK is subject to a customs declaration. Exporters whose products are already exempt from customs duties retain their exemptions.

For others, exemptions are now possible, with two conditions:

  1. Their "rule of origin" (economic nationality) is in accordance with the agreement,
  2. A tariff preference was requested through the customs declaration (case 36 code 300).

You can check the validity of your exemption and, if necessary, the rules of origin applicable to your products on the European Access To Market platform.

You must justify this exemption via a certificate of origin or via the "knowledge of the importer" scheme. Beware, to justify the exemption via a certificate of origin above 6,000 euros, French companies exporting to the United Kingdom must obtain an export number (REX) on the Soprano REX platform. On the other hand, French companies importing products from the United Kingdom must justify the exemption from duty via the mandatory mention on the exporter's invoice.

This information is summarized in the infographic produced by the Directorate General of Customs and Indirect Duties (in French).

Enhanced plant health controls for agri-food products

Since 1 January 2021 and according to a three-step timetable, a system of health and phytosanitary checks has been put in place to access the UK market.

In the long term, the controls may include the examination of documents, an "identity check" of the goods (systematic for live animals or animal products) and a thorough examination called "physical control" (systematic on live animals).

From 1 April, documentary checks will be carried out. Exporters will be required to provide phytosanitary certificates.

From 1 July 2021, physical checks will also take place. They will cover all live animals, animal products, "high priority" and "regulated" plants. Non-compliance will result in the goods being immobilized or shipped back.

Learn more about Brexit-related health checks on the Department of Agriculture and Food website (in French).

Avoiding slowdowns and refusals at the UK border in practice:

There is a risk of a slowdown in the flow of goods and people as a result of the re-establishment of these formalities. You can rely on STEF teams' expertise to ensure that your food products are transported to or from the UK in the best possible conditions. Delegate your customs procedures to us in connection with the transport of your products: together with our registered customs representative partners in France and the United Kingdom, we will carry out these steps for you, but also for your customers.

In practice, for your goods to pass safely across the British border make sure:

  1. Your company and the British importer's are registered with their respective health authorities,
  2. A pre-notification to export a batch of goods to the British plant health authorities (Obtaining a "UNN" number),
  3. Customs formalities in France and the United Kingdom have been carried out,
  4. The goods meet the plant health requirements of the United Kingdom,
  5. They are accompanied by the necessary documents during their transport: waybill, MNR number... check the list of documents that must be in the drivers' possession (in French).
I secure my export to the uk