Imports & Exports

If you’re importing or exporting food, you need to know about the regulations and comply with them. Failure to do so could cause delay or cause the enforcement authorities to take action.

Imports

All food intended for human consumption must meet the general food safety requirements of European Union law.

Importing food into Scotland is largely covered by European Regulation. As such, the majority of guidance which applies in Scotland applies across the UK and is held on the Food Standards Agency website, food.gov.uk. This page helps you to find the right section on food.gov.uk.

Legislation for Import of Food

Food which is intended for human consumption must meet the general food safety requirements of European Union (EU) law. Under EC Regulation 178/2002 these requirements are that food must not be unsafe, i.e.: injurious to health; unfit for human consumption. 

Apart from the general provisions of EC Regulation 178/2002, the specific legislation applying to imported food will depend on whether the food is of animal origin or not.

Food containing animal products includes:

meat, meat pies, salami, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, honey. 

Food that has no animal content includes:

fruit, vegetables, cereals, certain bakery products, herbs, spices, mineral water, fruit juices

Declarations

Specific legislation applies for certain products, for instance 'high-risk' products of non-animal origin under Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 which imposes import conditions on certain feed and food of non-animal origin, from certain non-EU countries which can only enter the UK through specific ports and airports approved as designated points of entry (DPEs) where official controls will be carried out. Specific controls are also imposed by specific EU implementing regulations and are given effect by Declarations under the Scottish Official Feed & Food Controls regulations and the Trade in Animal & Related Products regulations.

Search or browse current Declarations in force here.

Point of entry controls

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). Read full details of controls at Points of Entry into the UK.

Importing and testing food trade samples

Find out more about importing trade samples of food for test marketing, research and development or quality assurance.

Import restrictions

Additives

Contaminants

Banned and restricted products

Irradiated foods

Suppliers and import licences

Before importing goods, you need to be sure they’re safe and legal, and you hold any necessary licenses.

Understand suppliers and import licences.

Labelling

In Scotland, Food Standards Scotland has policy responsibility for general labelling (e.g. name of the food, ingredients lists, food allergens etc.) and nutrition labelling (e.g. Energy, amounts of fat, salt sugar etc.).

Contact enquiries@fss.scot for more information.

For advice on the labelling of specific products, please contact your local authority’s Environmental Health Department.

Read about importing into Scotland and food labelling.

For organisations concerned with Food Imports, see food.gov.uk.

Exports

Exporting food from Scotland is largely covered by European Regulation. As such, the majority of guidance which applies in Scotland applies across the UK and is held on the Food Standards Agency website, food.gov.uk.

Related Publications/Resources