Exporting from West Suffolk

West Suffolk is home to businesses supplying products locally, regionally, and nationally. Many businesses import and export goods including food items which may have certain restrictions placed on them to do so.

Find information and contacts on:

If you are planning or considering exporting it is essential that you:

  • obtain details of the import requirements for the country you hope to export to,
  • your customers’ requirements and specifications.

Get started: GOV.UK – Export goods from the UK: step by step

There are different types of certificates depending on the type of product you export. If your product is food or food-related then you may need either:

  • an export health certificate or
  • a food safety premises endorsement for export

Some countries (including the EU) have specific health certificates that must be issued, and others do not.

  • A Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export can be issued by a local authority.
  • Products of animal origin (POAO) will need an Export Health Certificate which is issued by the Animal Plant Health Authority (APHA) and signed by an official veterinary surgeon (OVS).
  • Some fishery products can have the Export Health Certificate signed by a food competent certifying officer (FCCO), however West Suffolk Council do not offer this service.

Guide to trading with the EU

On the 31 December 2020, the Transition Period ended and new rules for exporting came into effect.

This guide is designed to provide a starting point so that you can identify where you need to go for advice. It is intended to facilitate your export and not provide definitive advice or guidance for your business. You are responsible for identifying the needs of your business and your market. There are rules on what commercial documents must be produced and what those documents must contain.

Food safety premises endorsement for export issued by local authority

A food safety premises endorsement for export (or attestation) can be issued at any time up until the arrival of the consignment in port. The document will confirm that, from the documents provided with the application, the product has been produced or manufactured or otherwise processed or stored at a premises which is subject to official controls including inspections.

Before making an application to the local authority for a food safety premises endorsement for export:

  • make sure that the product and country is not on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) export health certificate list.
  • If your consignment is going via another country, including the EU, you must make sure that you check this on the APHA website. This is because different rules and certification requirements may apply. Many consignments travelling via the EU, or European Economic Area (EEA), and then transferring to another aircraft, vessel or port will require an application to be made to APHA (and this may be different if the freight is being transhipped in that port or is transiting that country). Please contact APHA to confirm before submitting your request.

When you make your application:

  • it is important to insert a description of the food products. This must be acceptable to the importing authorities and importing company. You should check this with your import agent. Many exporters use the manifest description, but this is a decision which you must take. Remember that the description must include all the products in the consignment, and be for products which West Suffolk Council know you are handling at the premises detailed in the document. You will be asked to provide this description when you make your application.
  • you will be asked to confirm that you have documentation to demonstrate that the products have either been:
    • produced or manufactured or otherwise processed by you, and that you have appropriate production records to demonstrate the correct application of your food safety management system including traceability of ingredients used in the products, and/or
    • have been obtained by you from a known and reputable supplier and that you have appropriate records to demonstrate the correct application of your food safety management system including traceability of those products (such as receipts, invoices, delivery or collection notes, temperature control, pest control records and so on).

You must make sure that you have these documents available should they be required as part of our checks. You may be asked to email these to us, or we may examine them as part of a site inspection visit. If you have them to hand you can attach them to your online application.

If you make an incorrect application to the local authority that should be made to APHA, we will refuse the application and advise you to contact APHA. The application fee will still be charged, and no refund will be given.

Currently, applications for a food safety premises endorsement for export (FSEFE) must be made by email. Please contact food&safety@westsuffolk.gov.uk for a template and further advice. This process is due to change shortly and all FSEFE will be applied for, and paid for, online. The document will then be emailed with an electronic signature. If hard copies with ink signature are required this will available by an application form. Please note that there will be an additional fee charged for hard copies.

Products of animal origin

You may need an export health certificate to export products of animal origin (POAO).

There are specific requirements for importing foods to China including pre-approval of the manufacturers, exporters and pre-notified signatories for health certificates. This process can take some time and you will need to contact APHA if you wish to consider such exports. It is strongly recommended that you do not enter into a contract to export to China unless you have made sure that the procedures are in place to allow it.

A fishery products export health certificate may be signed by a food competent certifying officer (FCCO). West Suffolk Council do not provide this service. A list can be found on:

All other products of animal origin will be signed by local official veterinary surgeon (OVS).

When you apply for your certificate you must nominate the OVS or the FCCO on your application to APHA before you submit it to them. There is currently no fee charged by APHA for the processing of the request.

Once an application for a Health Certificate is submitted to APHA, it is processed by them and then sent to the local OVS or FCCO.

Please note, a certificate cannot be issued or signed by an official veterinarian (or FCCO in the case of fishery products) if the consignment has already left the UK.

Other documents that may help facilitate your export

Certificate of Preferential Origin

In order to claim reduced import fees or to meet other import requirements you may be asked for a certificate of preferential origin. This certificate merely states where the product originates from. They are issued by the relevant Chamber of Commerce and a fee is chargeable. A reduced fee may be available to members of the Chamber of Commerce, but you do not have to be a member to apply for one. Other documents may be requested by your import agent or export agent. Suffolk Chamber of Commerce have many of these available.

More information

You should always consult with your customer or agent in the EU and engage the services of a professional and experienced freight agent in the EU (preferably in the country where the product enters the EU).

There is information provided on a wide range of issues including information and advice which is geared or directed to specific sectors, such as food and drink, available online.

West Suffolk Council officers are ready to help if you need advice on food safety. Closer partnership between business and local authorities means safer food and better public protection.

We are keen to help you and your business thrive and we have a strong, vibrant Economic Development team with extensive contacts who can help you with sourcing appropriate funding (where available), business advice, mentoring or networking opportunities and events.

Brexit and the future

The Government has published a policy paper GOV.UK - Summary: The UK’s new relationship with the EU. This gives an overview of what the UK-EU free trade deal means in practice now that the UK has left the EU. The document also includes a broader guide to ‘life after Brexit’ with links to guidance on the range of actions businesses and citizens may need to take.

Businesses can also use the GOV.UK - Brexit Checker tool , which will provide a personalised list of the most up to date actions that businesses need to take.

Digital guide for food and drink businesses

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published an updated version of the digital guide covering the key actions food and drink businesses may need to take now the UK has left the EU. If you wish to view this digital guide, please contact foodandsafety@westsuffolk.gov.uk

The details can also be found at: GOV.UK - Food and drink businesses: working with the EU