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Agence fédérale pour la sécurité de la chaîne alimentaire


Information for foreign companies using Belgian ports/airports for trade of animals, products of animal origin, plants and plant products with Great Britain Version imprimable   |   Dernière mise à jour le 08.12.2020


As from the 1st of January 2021, European legislation, including on sanitary and phytosanitary requirements,  will no longer apply in GB.

From that date onwards, trade rules established in a new agreement between the EU and GB on their new relationship will apply. In absence of such agreement the general WTO-rules will apply.

In any case - even if the EU and GB conclude such new agreement, the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) will have to carry out certain import controls from the 1st of January 2021 onwards, particularly on products with risks to animal health, plant health and food safety.

Companies wishing to export to or import from GB must be aware that there may be a significant impact on the rules in force and the controls to be carried out on such products shipped to or from GB.


Import from GB

From the 1st of January 2021 onwards the procedure and the requirements will be the same as those for trade with non EU-member states (“third countries”).

The European Commission summarised this procedure and these requirements in notices to stakeholders. The updated notices can be found via notices for preparation (NL/EN).

As a European importer, don’t forget to notify your consignment in TRACES-NT at least 24 hours before arrival in the border control post (BCP) of the point of entry in the European Union and make sure that the consignment is accompanied by the right health certificate that is delivered by GB competent authorities.

If necessary, contact a customs agency that can advise you on the complete handling of the import process (e.g. import control, documents and other formalities) (Customs agencies)

Important remark :

Even after the transition period Northern Ireland will, on the basis of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, continue to follow the rules of the internal market and therefore continue to be treated as if it were part of a Member State with regard to sanitary and phytosanitary rules.


Export to GB

After 31/12/2020, GB will no longer be part of the European Union and will then be treated as a non EU-member state (“third country”) with regard to sanitary and phytosanitary rules (see remark with respect of Northern Ireland).

Export of animals and goods to third countries is subject to different rules than those that apply to the transport of animals and goods within the European Union.

The new rules applicable to import into GB will be announced in the "Border Operating Model". To date, this model is not yet complete. Details are still missing. It is therefore recommended to regularly consult this website and the website of the British government.

Your animals and goods will be subject to an export control by the competent authority of the member state of origin of the animals and goods, depending on the (phyto)sanitary requirements they have to comply with. If the result of the check is favourable, the competent authority will issue the documents needed to import the animals and goods into GB (e.g. health certificate, phytosanitary certificate).

The animals, goods and accompanying documents will also be checked upon arrival into GB. Import controls by the British authorities will be extended progressively to all regulated animals and goods. Import controls will only be carried out at a border checkpoint in the UK from July 2021 onwards.

From a given date animals and goods:

  • will have to be notified for import into GB via the electronic system IPAFFS (Import Plants, Animals, Food, Feed system) at least 24 hours before arrival of the goods
  • must be accompanied by the necessary documents (Export Health Certificate or Phytosanitary Certificate and/or Commercial Document) when imported into GB
  • will be subject to an import check, consisting of a documentary, conformity and possibly a physical check, at the UK border checkpoint

Important remarks :

  • Northern Ireland will, on the basis of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, continue to be considered as a Member State after the transition period with regard to sanitary and phytosanitary rules and therefore continue to follow the rules of the internal market.
  • Comply with customs requirements on imports through wider customs escorts and consider engaging an import agent in case you need one. If necessary, contact your importers in the UK and find out what requirements you will need to meet.

See also: Prepare to import goods into GB from January 2021


Freight to and from the Republic of Ireland

From the 1st of January 2021 onwards, Great Britain will no longer be part of the customs union and the internal market of the European Union (see remark with respect of Northern Ireland). This will have a significant impact on commercial freight between the Irish Republic and Belgium, passing through the territory of GB (so-called “GB Landbridge”), even if the European Union and GB manage to conclude an agreement on their future relationship by the end of the transition period on the 31st of December 2020.

Direct sea routes between Irish and Belgian ports are reliable alternatives for the GB Landbridge and are perfectly suited for avoiding red tape and congestion in British ports from the 1st of January 2021. Direct sea routes from Dublin to Zeebrugge (roll-on roll-off), from Dublin to Antwerp (containers), from Cork to Zeebrugge (roll-on roll-off) and from Cork to Antwerp (mostly containers) are already frequently used by various operators and others will be deployed soon (e.g. Drogheda-Antwerp).

As of 1st of January 2021, the Union transit procedure will apply to commercial freight between the Irish Republic and Belgium, using the GB Landbridge, for instance when it comes to the shipment of perishable goods, in accordance with the International Common Transit Convention of 1987.

Operators shipping goods from the Irish Republic to Belgium will need to use NCTS (New Computerised Transit System) for their transit consignments. Equally, they will be able to use the port community systems, offered by the ports of Antwerp (NxtPort) and Zeebrugge (RX/Seaport).

In terms of customs formalities, transit shipments coming from the Irish Republic via GB, without any modifications to the initial shipment, will be treated as Union goods, on which no tariffs, excise duties and VAT will be charged at arrival in Belgium.

In this light, T1- (certificate needed for shipment of non-Union goods) and T2- (certificate needed for shipment of Union goods) goods should not be mixed in one shipment, as this would result in additional red tape relating to non-Union goods crossing European external borders.

As regards sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods, products of plant origin shipped from the Irish Republic to Belgium and passing through GB will not be checked at arrival in Belgium. However, live animals and products of animal origin will be subject to documentary checks at arrival at a Belgian Border Control Post. An identity check (so-called seal check) will take place, if deemed necessary, and consignments will need to be physically checked at the Border Control Post in cases of suspected fraud or irregularity. Operators will be able to use TRACES-NT after the end of transition period for the shipments of live animals, while the port community systems of the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge can be used for shipments of products of animal origin.
Notre mission est de veiller à ce que tous les acteurs de la chaîne fournissent aux consommateurs et les uns aux autres une assurance optimale que les aliments, les animaux, les plantes et les produits qu’ils consomment, utilisent ou détiennent sont fiables, sûrs et protégés, maintenant et à l’avenir.

Infos pour l'exportation :  Unités locales de contrôle (ULC) de l'AFSCA
Infos pour l'importation :  Postes de contrôle frontaliers (PCF) de l'AFSCA
Informations générales : Contactcenter Brexit - Via le formulaire en ligne ou par courriel brexit@afsca.be
Tél.: 02/211 98 98 - Lundi, mardi, jeudi et vendredi de 9h à 12h30, ainsi que le mercredi de 13h à 16h30.