EU Exit

Requirements for businesses now that the transition period has ended.

Answers to commonly asked questions about legislative changes

Last updated 15 January

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020 which means we have left the Single Market and Customs Union. If your business deals in food or animal feed, your responsibility to make sure it is safe will continue from January 2021.

There are now new requirements for exports and imports because we have left the Single Market and Customs Union.

Leaving the EU hasn’t changed our primary focus at FSS - we’re still protecting the interests of consumers in Scotland in relation to food and drink. Everything we do is aimed at making sure food is safe and it is what the label says it is, and helping consumers make healthier food choices.  We will carry on focusing on these aims.

Transition of EU legislation into UK/Scottish law from 1 January 2021

We are working with Scottish Ministers and others across the UK, to ensure that there will continue to be effective food and feed laws in place across Scotland. 

Read more about food and feed law after the end of the transition period.

New requirements from 1 January 2021

As of 1 January 2021 a number of requirements are different if a business trades with the EU in any way and it’s important that as a food or feed business that you are aware of these and have taken the necessary steps.

Businessess approved to export to the EU

See an up to date list of businesses approved to export to the EU, you can also check what your TRACES number is:

Importing and exporting

The process for importing and exporting goods to and from the EU has changed.  Visit the UK Government website for guidance which outlines action you may need to take:

You can register to view webinars for exporters of animals and products of animal origin to the EU. Previous webinars are available on YouTube:

Read guidance to help with ensuring you have the correct paperwork for live animal and animal product checks at the EU border.

We have been working to make sure we have access to new systems such as the UK’s Imports, Products, Animals, Food, and Feed System (IPAFFS) which replaces the EU TRACES system. In addition we are advising Scottish Ministers on new and existing Border Control Posts (BCP’s).

Read more about food and drink exports, including about moving goods to Northern Ireland.

URGENT REQUIREMENT - Registration and Inspection of Fishing Vessels

Action is required by fishing vessel owners in Scotland register their fishing vessels as food businesses as required by legislation, and be inspected by the relevant local authority to enable catch to be exported.

If vessel owners fail to meet this legal requirement their catch will not be permitted for export to the EU from 1 January 2021.

If you intend to export your catch, either directly or indirectly, to any EU Member State you must contact your Local Authority (LA) Environmental Health Department to register as a food business with them, and make arrangements to have your vessel/s inspected by LA officers. This letter to all fishing vessel owners in Scotland explains further.

It should be recognised the responsibility to register with, and have your vessel inspected by the relevant LA, rests with food business owners, so contact your local authority as soon as possible.

Read more about the requirements.

Export Health Certificates 

You need an Export Health Certificate (EHC) to export live animals and animal products to countries to the EU and to move live animals and animal products to Northern Ireland.

EHC’s will be required for all export consignments from Scotland to the EU which contain either Products of Animal Origin (POAO) or Composite Products.

An EHC is an official document confirming consignment information, and attesting that the consignment complies with EU health standards and regulations so that your product(s) can be successfully exported from Scotland to the EU. Without this you cannot trade with the EU.

  • Apply for EHCs for export from Scotland to the EU using the online service.

Defra has published guidance on Export Health Certification for POAO away from the premises of origin.

Products of animal origin, including composite products

Products of animal origin (POAO) and “Composite Products” (which include processed POAO and products of plant origin), being exported from the UK to the EU need to have export documentation. This includes products going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

To help deal with this new requirement, FSS will be resourcing an EHC signing service at a small number of existing logistics hubs in central Scotland. Initially intended for existing users of the logistics hubs, this additional service should reduce some of the burden on existing sources of signed EHCs, such as Local Authorities. Exporters who are unable to, or decide not to, use the logistics hubs should apply to their own Local Authority.  

Health and ID marks

There have been changes to health and ID mark requirements for POAO produced in the UK and placed on the market in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or exported outside of the UK.  

  • Read our guidance about the changes to health and ID marks, including sizing and dimensions.

Food and animal feed safety risk analysis from January 2021

Risk analysis is the process by which we assess, manage and communicate food and animal feed safety risks. It will ensure Scotland continues to enjoy high standards of food and feed safety and consumer protection.

Regulated products authorisation

Regulated products and processes are those food and feed products and processes that until 31 December 2020 required authorisation by the European Commission (EC) following a risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

From 1 January 2021, in GB, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency took over responsibility for ensuring a risk assessment is undertaken and providing risk management recommendations to Ministers, who will decide whether an authorisation is appropriate. Risk assessment will be undertaken based on expert advice from independent technical experts / Scientific Advisory Committees/Joint Expert Groups on a GB basis.

Regulated products include:

  • extraction solvents
  • feed additives
  • feed for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS)
  • feed (detoxification processes)
  • flavourings
  • food contact materials (active/intelligent materials)
  • food contact materials (plastic additives)
  • food contact materials (recycled processes)
  • food additives
  • food enzymes
  • genetically modified organisms as food and feed
  • irradiated food
  • novel foods (full application)
  • novel foods (traditional food notification)
  • smoke flavourings

Read more about the GB authorisation process from 1 January 2021.

Nutrition and health claims

An authorisation process is required for new nutrition and health claims and, working with the other administrations, Scotland has taken on responsibility this function which was previously carried out at EU level.

EU Citizens

Food Standards Scotland welcomes the valuable contribution our friends and colleagues who are EU citizens make, and we would encourage any EU Citizens who have not yet done so to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Guidance is also available for frontier workers who want to continue working in the UK or who wish to begin employment in the UK.

Other sources of information

Scottish Government

Information from the Scottish Government on Brexit and how it may affect people and businesses in Scotland.

UK Government

Information from the UK Government on getting ready for Brexit, including preparing your business, visiting the EU, living and working in the EU and staying in the UK if you're an EU citizen.

Scotland’s Enterprise and skills agencies

Advice for businesses in Scotland about preparing for Brexit from Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.