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The UK is now a third country.

What does that mean for EHCs?

The latest news and updates will appear here. Last updated 05/03/21.

Well it is done. Whichever side you are on. The United Kingdom has left the European Union. We are a third country. We are no longer in the single market or the customs union. The impact on the import and export of anything is drastic enough, but particularly where products of animal origin (POAO) are involved and export health certificates (EHCs) are needed, the changes are even more significant.

The UK has agree a free trade agreement with the EU, although Northern Ireland is effectively still within the single market and customs union, with an effective border down the Irish Sea. There was very little in the way of detail on phytosanitary checks and GB is therefore subject to the same import requirements as any other third country would be.

These requirements are laid down in EU regulation 2019/628 and 2017/625. These lay down ‘model’ EHCs for each type of commodity and how they should be completed.

It is probably fair to suggest that they were designed for full containers of primary  products eg fresh meat, fish etc coming from far-away third countries, rather than the mixed, highly processed, ‘just in time’ loads that typically cross the English Channel and Irish Sea hundred of times a day.

DEFRA have uploaded around 100 new EHCs for export to the EU on form finder. The list covered various commodities including fresh meat, meat preparations, meat products, dairy, raw dairy, fish, egg, honey, gelatin/collagen, pet food etc. Full details about these and the application process can be found here.

So what do we know so far?

  • The UK has been given a favourable health status – column A for dairy and no special guarantees for meat. Steps are in place to gain controlled housing status for pork exports
  • The EHCs are fiendishly complicated to complete with numerous boxes
  • The groupage/GEFS scheme is helping simplify the process for exporters of mixed loads such as supermarkets
  • There is confusion over what goes in some boxes eg means of transport for lorry and ro-ro ferry-‘road vehicle’ or ‘ship’; it should be the means by which it leaves GB
  • Border control posts are interpreting very different versions of EU law in terms of what they will and won’t accept. The EHC almost has to be tailor made to fit the specific BCP
  • Minced meat and meat preparations (sausages, burgers etc) can only be sent frozen
  • The EHC has to be completed and signed in English and the BCP language. Not the destination language, although some countries do seem to expect this
  • Most exporters are underestimating the time and complexity of the operation, in particular how much supporting evidence from higher up the food chain is needed
  • Many hauliers, especially those doing groupage work, have suspended EU travel due to the delays
  • Volumes of exports are significantly down on normal


DEFRA are in regular consultation with the EU commission to try to resolve these issues and are feeding back any useful information to OVs.

Remember that we CANNOT sign an EHC once goods have left the UK.


The NI protocol has meant that NI is effectively both still within the UK and the single market. To avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland this means a customs/regulator border down the Irish Sea.

Members of the UK trader scheme can avoid paying tariffs.

Members of the authorised trader scheme (eg supermarkets and their suppliers) can avoid most EHCs during a 3 month grace period (extended until 30/9/21, subject to legal challenge), by self certifying. They can also ship ‘prohibited and restricted’ goods eg chilled mince and sausages, although certification by an OV is needed for these on a bespoke EHC.

There is also the movement assistance scheme, which can allow OVs to claim part of the cost of certification direct from the Government, with the exporter paying any balance.


All change! On 21st April the EU’s new model EHCs comes into place – EU regulation 2016/429.  As soon as we have got use to one way of doing things, it will all change. Further information can be found on this page.

Why should I chose Amivet as my official vet?

There are relatively few vets who specialise in the export certification field and it is important to choose someone who has experience. At Amivet Exports we are more than happy to work with clients to offer a ‘tailor made’ service.

We have a large team of official vets and certification support officers throughout the UK and we aim to be as flexible as possible. You will also get a named contact, so you will get a familiar contact that can get to know and understand your business. For further information and a free, informal discussion about your export requirements, including what products you may need an EHC for, please contact us.

Work with us – we will try our very best to come up with a unique solution for every client that works for both parties

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