We are getting numerous requests for help and guidance about Brexit, and although there is much still to be answered, we have tried to summarise what we do know. This is of course a rapidly moving field and we are keeping up to date and passing on information as and when we receive it.
As things stand, if the UK leaves the EU at midnight on 31st October 2019 without a deal or transition agreement in place, it will then become a ‘third country’.
Products of animal origin (POAO) may then require an Export Health Certificate (EHC), signed by an Official Vet (OV) to travel to the EU and need to enter via a Border Inspection Post (BIP).
DEFRA released a batch of nearly 100 new EHCs for export to the EU before the intended Brexit date in March. However this list was then taken down and no date has been set for it to be reinstated. The list covered various commodities including meat, dairy, fish, egg, gelatin and collagen. The definitions of ‘animal product’, ‘composite product’, ‘processed’ etc are complex and governed by EU regs 853/2005, 28/2012 and 2007/275. The attached guide may be of help.
From what we understand now (and this may change), the exporter will apply to APHA with the relevant EHC and a new ET169 application form. They may bulk apply for identical EHCs and can apply up to 7 days in advance.
The EHCs will be sent in encrypted format for the OV to print on plain paper, stamp and sign, once any necessary checks and supporting evidence has been obtained. A scanned certified copy will be made and sent to the exporter – we believe this needs forwarding to the BIP 24 hours in advance of arrival. It is still not clear if we have to return a copy to APHA same day (as TRACES) or within 7 days (as most EHCs now) – given this may become a 24/7 situation.
It is thought the physical hard copy must accompany the consignment ie go with the driver, to present at the BIP.
Remember that we CANNOT sign an EHC once goods have left the UK.
Questions that we cannot yet answer…
1 What if the driver loses the original EHC?
We don’t know if the BIP will accept the certified scan copy in exceptional cases or if a ‘cancel and replace’ would be needed. We are not aware of APHA planning to provide an out of office emergency service for this so potentially a lost EHC on a Friday evening may mean a lorry sitting in a port until the Monday or even Tuesday.
2 What goods will need certifying?
As a rule of thumb – all meat goods and most other goods containing >50% POAO that are either not heat treated and/or are not shelf stable. So for example a supermarket shipping raw milk goods, pasteurised milk goods, eggs, poultry, beef and pork on one lorry may need 6 or even more EHCs just for that one lorry. If they ship 10 lorries a day, that could be 60 EHCs!
3 What about consolidators?
If a forwarder is consolidating a load from say 5 different exporters in one lorry, then it is not clear if the forwarder or the 5 individual companies should apply for the EHCs. If done separately, the certifying OVs will be unable to add any seal details as these will not be known for sure in advance. Equally if one part of the shipment is refused due to incorrect EHC, will the rest be condemned due to contamination risk?
4 Consignee details
EHCs are normally for a shipment to a single consignee in the destination country. If, say, a supermarket wants to ship to 10 individual stores in the destination country, do they require 10 EHCs or can they set up and ship to a company set up in that country? Does that company need to have a physical presence there?
5 What documents do we need to sign?
Until we see the final EHC layout, we cannot say for sure. This may include evidence of country of origin, oval health mark, processing details, disease freedom etc. If non-UK origin, we may need the CVED (common veterinary entry document) that accompanied the goods into the UK.
6 What about the volume of goods?
It will certainly be a challenge – we have extra OVs and CSOs (certification support officers) on standby to cope with the extra volume and are aware that it may be a 24/7 operation in some cases.
7 How can I make it easy?
No simple answer on this one without completely reworking your distribution systems. There will inevitably be delays and teething problems:-
Day 1 for day 2 may simply not be possible in every case
If you can arrange loads so all the dairy is on one lorry, the meat on another etc, that would help but is often impossible
Arrange your shipments in as short a window as possible – it is much quicker to check 6 lorries all loading and going out in a 2 hour window than to have one every 4 hours as there will be a lot of waiting around and poor use of OV time
Checks – it will be impracticable to examine every single product going on every shipment – we will have to rely on spot checks and risk assess the goods going on a case by case basis
Work with us – we will try our very best to come up with a unique solution for every client that works for both parties
Of course if we get a deal or transition period (even if last minute), then we will carry on as normal for the time being!
So please get in touch if you have any further questions….