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Direct Landing of British Fish to the EU: What Customs Treatment?

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

(FREE) Does British Fish, caught in international waters, require an export declaration? We explore...

The European Union (EU) is by far the world’s biggest importer of fish, seafood and aquaculture products. Import rules for these products are harmonised, meaning that the same rules apply in all EU countries.

Imports of fishery products into the EU are subject to official veterinary controls and certification. This requires UK public authorities to carry out the necessary inspection and controls throughout the production chain, which cover all relevant aspects of hygiene, public health and, in the case of aquaculture products, also animal health.

The UK authorities must guarantee that the relevant hygiene and public health requirements are met. EU hygiene legislation contains specific requirements regarding the structure of vessels, landing sites, processing establishments and on operational processes, freezing and storage. These provisions are aimed at ensuring that food is produced safely and that contamination of the product during processing is prevented.

Imports are only authorised from approved vessels and establishments (e.g. processing plants, freezer or factory vessels, cold stores), which have been inspected by the UK authorities and found to meet EU requirements. When it signs the export health certificate, the UK authority is certifying that it provides the necessary guarantees, carries out regular inspections of vessels and establishments and takes corrective action, if necessary.

Imports of fishery products from the UK must enter the EU via an approved Border Inspection Post under the authority of an official veterinarian in the EU Member State in question

Each consignment is subject to a systematic documentary check, identity check and, as appropriate, a physical check. The frequency of physical checks depends on the risk profile of the product and also on the results of previous checks.

export requirements

As a result of the strict import requirements, companies will need to fulfil a long list of requirements to land fish caught by a UK vessel directly in the EU. It is clear that UK flagged vessels must meet sea fishing statutory requirements.

Other requirements

There is labelling, health and identification mark requirements for fish from Great Britain to the EU.

Origin of caught fish

  • Fish caught beyond the UK's territorial waters, and beyond the EU's territorial waters, by a UK registered vessel that is then landed into either a UK or EU port is UK origin fish. The export formalities out of the UK and import formalities into the EU would need to be completed.

  • Fish caught beyond the UK's territorial waters, and beyond the EU's territorial waters by EU registered vessels and landed into either a UK or EU port is EU origin fish.

Direct landing of fish in the EU

There a wide range of conditions that need to be fulfilled for a direct landing of fish in the EU. In a nutshell, British flagged vessels wishing to directly land in the EU also may need to complete a:

• prior notification form

• pre-landing declaration

• catch certificate

• other certificates, such as a captain's certificate.

Landings must be made at IUU or NEAFC designated ports for landings of vessels from third countries. Vessels must wait for permission to land by EU fisheries authorities. The vessel may be inspected when it lands.

Customs export declarations

The current guidance on Gov does state that export decs do need to be made for directly landed fish.

Exporting or moving fish from the UK - GOV.UK
Download PDF • 294KB

The guidance reads: “You must comply with HMRC guidance on customs requirements for exporting to the EU. These rules apply to exports:

  • exports from Great Britain to the EU of fish caught by a UK flagged fishing vessel

  • exports from Great Britain to the EU of fish imported from another country, that have been stored or processed in the UK

  • direct landings in EU (NEAFC) ports by a UK flagged fishing vessel”

Other sources

Step-by-Step Guidance by Gov: How to export maritime products from GB to the UK

How to export marine fishery products to the EU from 1 January 2021 - Exporters_V14
Download PDF • 178KB

A clear reference to exporting:

Dutch Ministry: Import requirements for fish into the EU (SPS measures)

Dutch Ministry - What requirements must fish and seafood comply with to be allowed on the
Download • 394KB

Irish Guide to Fish trade with third countries

Ireland - fisheries-customs-formalities-post-brexit
Download PDF • 380KB

What does the Border Operating Model say?

No mention of export declarations:


Download PDF • 4.25MB


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