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Exporting from East Suffolk

East Suffolk is home to many businesses supplying products locally, regionally and nationally. Many businesses, including small artisan producers, are seeing the potential growth opportunities in export, including to recognised new and emerging markets such as China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia but also potential opportunities in Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.

East Suffolk is well served by a comprehensive road network with access to a local rail network direct to the Port of Felixstowe, London Gateway, Tilbury and Harwich. Freight handling airports including Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, East Midlands and Heathrow are easily reached and the presence of local freight forwarders and freight agents, who can help with export arrangements, make the area well placed to meet your needs.

We are keen to promote and support local businesses and we have a strong, vibrant Economic Development and Regeneration Team with extensive contacts who can help you with sourcing appropriate funding (where available), business advice, mentoring or networking opportunities and events.

Before you decide to export, you first need to consider the import conditions of the country to which you are exporting. Useful information and contacts are available from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and from trade organisations such as the Institute of Export and International Trade. The UK Government has strong links with many countries and the Commercial Attaché at the British Embassy or High Commission in that country may be able to provide additional information. You can also contact the Commercial Attaché at the Embassy or High Commission of the country you wish to export to.

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 as well as your customers’ requirements and specifications. If your product is food or food related then you may need a health certificate as part of that export documentation. Some countries have specific health certificates that must be issued and others do not.

If there is no specific certificate available but the country of destination and/or your customer require one, then the local authority can issue certification to facilitate your export.

Planning for the future relationship with the EU

From 2300 hours on 31 January 2020 the UK will leave the EU and will enter the “Transition Period” until 31 December 2020. During this transition period the UK will be able to trade with the EU as now and so no changes are immediately required to what we currently do.

During the transition period the UK government will be negotiating the future relationship with the EU including on trade and the future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

This guide is designed to provide a starting point so that you can identify where you need to go for advice. It will be updated frequently, but the situation can change. 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.

At present “exports” to the EU do not usually require any form of certification and this will continue during the transition period. However, there are rules on what commercial documents must be produced and what those documents must contain.

Products from approved premises must have the identification mark or health mark applied. The current format of the health mark or identification mark will continue until the end of the transition period. The new format identification marks and health marks must not be applied during the transition period.

Products of animal origin

If you wish to export products of animal origin you may need an export health certificate.

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 need to contact APHA urgently 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 ensured that the procedures are in place to allow it.

Applying for an Export Health Certificate

Choose who will sign the certificate. If it is for Fishery Product then East Suffolk Council can sign the form. There is a fee payable Fees and charges schedule.

If you wish to use the East Suffolk Council service you must nominate us 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. If your product is for another product of animal origin then you must use a specially qualified vet.

Once an application for a Health Certificate is submitted to APHA, it is processed by them and then sent to the local Official Veterinary Surgeon (OVS) or the Local Authority Environmental Health Officer (EHO) (for fishery products only) where it is printed.

Once you have submitted your application to APHA and have the reference number you must instruct us to sign the form.

Please note - a certificate cannot be issued or signed by an Official Veterinarian (or EHO in the case of fishery products) if the consignment has already left the UK.

Applying for an Export Health Certificate (Non-APHA)

Export Health Certificates or Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export can be issued for countries not on the list, but these are not usually required by the Government of the Importing Country. They are usually requested by the import agent or the importer as part of their traceability and food safety management systems. Applications for these certificates are made to the local authority (not APHA) and are printed and signed by the local authority Environmental Health Officers or specially authorised Food Safety Officers. There is a fee for this service.

Export Health Certificates issued by the local authority

Applications for a Health Certificate to be issued by the local authority should be made at least five working days before the consignment leaves the manufacturing or distribution site in East Suffolk. If you do not give five days notice then you will receive a Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export if your application is approved.

Export Certificates will be issued once official control checks are carried out on the consignment. These checks could be documentary (from the documents provided with the application), identity checks (where the consignment is examined) or physical (where the consignment is also subjected to additional checks including organoleptic tests, visual examination and/or sampling).

Please be aware that Export Health Certificates cannot be issued once the product has left the manufacturing or distribution site here in East Suffolk. However, we can issue a Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export.

Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export issued by the local authority

A Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export can be issued at any time up until the arrival of the consignment in port. The certificate will confirm that, from the documents provided with the application, the product has been produced/manufactured or otherwise processed or stored at a premises which is subject to official controls including inspections.

A Premises Endorsement for Export will not detail the full contents of the consignment but will merely detail what type of products are covered by the Premises Endorsement for Export. It is important when you make your application that you insert a description that is 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 East Suffolk Council know you are handling at that premises. You will be asked to provide this description when you make your application.

Applying for an Export Health Certificate or Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export

Before making an application to the local authority for a Health Certificate or Food Safety Premises Endorsement for Export, please ensure that the product and country is not on the APHA list. If your consignment is going via another country including the EU you must ensure 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 to the local authority you will be asked to confirm that you have documentation to demonstrate that the products have either been:

  • Produced/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.


  • 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 and/or delivery or collection notes, temperature control, pest control records etc).

You must ensure 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 application to the local authority and it 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.

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 and you should see their website for further information.

Certificate of Free Sale

A certificate of free sale merely states that the product certified is available for free sale in the UK.

Currently the Government advises to download a copy of the form and submit it to the email address at the top of the form.

There is currently no fee for these. They are not widely accepted, and you must check whether they will allow the importation of your product into the destination country.

Fish Catch Certificates, Processing Statements and Storage Statements

Further 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.

East 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.