A Quick Guide to Importing and Exporting Fresh Fruit and Vegetables to, from and around the UK


All fruits and vegetables imported into or exported from the United Kingdom must comply with applicable quality and labelling regulations. Imports of fruit and vegetables (whether fresh, dried, tinned, processed or frozen) from third countries must meet the same hygiene standards and go through the same safety procedures as food produced in Great Britain. You do not usually need a health certificate to import fruit and vegetables.

Importing fruit and vegetables from the EU to Great Britain

The Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) inspects English and Welsh imports, whereas Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) inspects imported goods in Scotland. If HMI or SASA decide to inspect your shipment, they will inform you that you must apply for a certificate of conformity (CoC) issued from Great Britain.

The UK had announced a progressive application of additional controls and checks post-Brexit. However, the government has announced recently that the remaining import controls on EU goods will no longer be introduced this year. Instead, traders will continue to move their goods from the European Union to Great Britain as they do now.

Importing fruit and vegetables directly from non-EU countries to the UK

Before entering the United Kingdom, a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) is required for any items that must comply with the Specific Marketing Standard (SMS).

Unless your SMS shipment fits both conditions, you will need a CoC issued by the United Kingdom.

  • it comes from a nation with UK Approved Inspection Service (AIS) status 
  • it is accompanied by a Certificate of Conformity issued by the country you’re importing from (the country must have UK AIS status)

The following countries and goods have UK AIS status: India, Israel, Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey are members of the G20.

Most imports accompanied by a CoC from countries with UK AIS status do not need routine quality and labelling (marketing standards) checks. HMI or SASA will inspect a small sample at random to ensure that goods comply with the quality and labelling rules. 

Some commodities that must comply with the General Marketing Standard (GMS) will be examined to meet quality and labelling standards. If HMI or SASA decide to inspect your shipment, you must request for a CoC granted by Great Britain.

You must apply for a CoC on PEACH for GMS goods even if you are importing from a nation with AIS status and possess a CoC granted by that country.

Importing fruit and vegetables from non-EU countries to the UK via the EU

Fruits and vegetables in transit from non-EU nations through the EU to the United Kingdom continue to be evaluated by horticultural inspectors to determine whether an inspection is required at the border and to ensure compliance with UK marketing guidelines.

In England and Wales, HMI and PHSI may inspect produce governed by both marketing requirements and plant health legislation. SASA conducts product inspections in Scotland.

At the border, HMI and PHSI conduct the majority of quality and labelling (marketing standards) checks. PHSI may inspect produce at plant health facilities throughout the United States.

Suppose you import fruit and vegetables into the United Kingdom from a non-EU country, and a portion of your shipment is re-exported to the EU. In that case, your shipment must undergo import and export procedures.

Exporting fruit and vegetables from Great Britain to the EU

If you export fruit and vegetables from Great Britain to the EU, you must adhere to the import criteria for third countries outlined in the EU marketing standards laws.

To clear customs in Great Britain, SMS produce requires a CoC issued by Great Britain. This includes exports to the European Union. For GMS goods to clear customs, a CoC issued by Great Britain is not required.

You may also need an import CoC granted by the importing member state upon arrival into the EU. This relies on the risk assessment of the member state for GMS and SMS commodities. The European Commission has given the United Kingdom AIS status for produce.

AIS status enables GB exporters of British-grown produce to use a CoC issued by the UK while obtaining customs clearance in the EU. Prior to importation into the EU, a sample of shipments may be inspected to ensure conformance with EU marketing rules.

Approved Trader Scheme (ATS)

Approved trader status identifies a business as low-risk and reduces the number of conformity assessments. You can obtain approved trader status if you are a grower, packer, importer, or exporter, and your business consistently meets marketing standards requirements.

If you are a member of the ATS in the United Kingdom, you must remove the EU insignia from your food labelling and replace it with the GB badge. It would help if you only sold your current inventory with the EU logo in the United Kingdom until your current labels run out.

The GB label must contain the following:

  • ‘Marketing standard for fresh fruit and vegetables
  • number of the approved trader
  • ‘Great Britain’ or ‘GB’

Exporting fruit and vegetables directly from the UK to non-EU countries

Before delivering your shipment, you must comply with the country’s quality and labelling standards.

All SMS items must have a CoC issued by Great Britain to clear customs in the United Kingdom. GMS goods do not require a CoC issued by the United Kingdom to clear customs in the United Kingdom.

Before being exported from the UK to a non-EU country, most fruits and vegetables require a phytosanitary certificate. If you export fruits and vegetables to Northern Ireland, you should review DAERA’s export guidelines for plants and plant products.

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