Exports and export certification


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the UK Central Competent Authority (CCA) for International Trade. It is responsible for negotiating new export markets and for ensuring continued access to those export markets. Find out what you need to do to export or move food, drink and agricultural products.

Our role is to provide assurance to Defra that food and drink exported from the UK has been produced in accordance with UK legislative requirements. It is a Food Business Operator's (FBO's) responsibility to check their export meets the requirements of the destination country.

If you're commercially exporting food from the UK, it's your responsibility to make sure that you're aware of any restrictions and what export conditions apply. You need to do this before food can be exported. Read a step by step guide on exporting goods from the UK.

Export certification

Certain countries, including the European Union (EU) require that some UK food and drink exports are certified by a UK certifying authority before being exported.

Defra provides information on export certification for exporters. You can also learn more about exporting to Northern Ireland.

Before you export food and drink products from the UK, you must check if there are any specific restrictions with:

  • your customer
  • the authorities in the destination country
  • the relevant country's foreign embassy in the UK

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is not responsible for issuing any type of export certification.

Individual countries will have specific requirements in terms of the types of documentation needed for products being exported. The requirements will differ depending on the country and the specific type of product.

There is no single source of information of those individual products to country export requirements. When commercially exporting food or drink from the UK, it's your responsibility to check the restrictions and export conditions that apply before you export.

In Great Britain (GB), the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for issuing export health certificates (EHC) for certain products of animal origin (POAO) to specific countries. Find out how to get an export health certificate.

In Northern Ireland (NI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for issuing EHCs for POAO.

Local authorities can provide export certification for certain products not covered by official EHCs issued by APHA. This can relate to products that are:

  • not of animal origin
  • processed meat products
  • manufactured food and drinks

The type of certification that needs to be provided is specific to the product being exported and the requirements of the destination country.

You should provide the information you have gathered on the import requirements of the destination country to your local authority. This will inform what the export certification needs to say. Find a professional to certify export health certificates in Scotland.

The minimum required by non-EU countries in such certification is usually confirmation that the product is:

  • produced in accordance with domestic hygiene rules
  • fit for human consumption
  • freely available for sale within the UK

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) can also provide Certificates of Free Sale for the export of certain processed food and drink products.

Guidance on exporting food and feed

Defra has published the following guidance for businesses on the rules for exporting products of animal origin, including to EU countries.

Defra guidance on the new rules for exporting or moving high risk food and feed of non-animal origin (HRFNAO) from GB to EU countries or NI is available at exporting or moving HRFNAO.

Shellfish trading requirements

Pectinidae (e.g. scallops), tunicates (e.g. sea squirts, sea cucumbers and sea urchins) and marine gastropods (e.g. winkles and whelks etc.) which are harvested and landed in GB, are permitted to be traded without a Site Identification Number (SIN) code (previously called GBR code), as they are not filter feeders as specified in the relevant regulation.

All other live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) will need a SIN code

Before they can be placed on the market for human consumption and be eligible for export health certification they will require to have passed through one of the following types of approved premises – a fish auction, a dispatch centre or a processing establishment. See the Scottish list of approved food establishments.

The shellfish sector will continue to be kept informed on any updates to requirements for completing their movement documents.

Registration and inspection of fishing vessels

Fishing vessel owners in Scotland are legally required to register their fishing vessels as food businesses, and be inspected by the relevant local authority to enable their catch to be exported. See a list of vessels registered in Scotland.

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. Here is a letter to all fishing vessel owners in Scotland for further information and LA contact details. The responsibility to register with, and have your vessel inspected by the relevant LA, rests entirely with food business owners, so fishing vessel owners should contact their relevant LA now.


If you are a LA or food business looking for further information on fishing vessel registration or the new logistic hubs, please contact enforcement@fss.scot. Industry suppliers can contact the APHA helpdesk for export enquiries: exports@apha.gov.uk

Businesses approved to export to the EU

You can view a list of businesses approved to export to the EU and check your TRACES number on the Gov.uk website.