Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides answers to our most frequently asked questions. Click on a question below to see the answer.

If you can't find the information you are looking for in the FAQs below then the following resources may be useful:

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Will Ashford Port Health be charging from the go live date?

Yes we will be charging from go live, in line with Dover and other Port Health Authorities in the South of England.

+ Are your charges subject to VAT?

No, these are statutory charges and are therefore Outside the Scope of VAT.

+ Do we have an idea of what controlled goods will be subject to checking at the BCP and when?

Ashford Port Health will be responsible for:

  • Products of animal origin i.e. (POAO): Fish and Meat
  • High Risk Foods Not of Animal Origin (HRFNOAO): Fruit, Vegetables and nuts.
  • Catch Certificates in regards to preventing Illegal Unregulated Fish Imports (IUU)
  • Organic Certificate to check the province of goods
  • Controls concerning plastic products that come into contact with food.
  • Composite products containing POAO

As of the 7 June, 2021 Ashford Port Health will be undertaking IUU online documentary checks for EU imports, if the IUU is from a third country then the import will need to be presented at a designated BCP.

From the 1 January 2022 there will be a requirement for pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods. Full Customs declarations and controls will be also introduced from this date as previously announced.

From the 1 July 2022 the BCP will be starting physical, identity and sampling checks.

Also on site but not processed by Ashford Port Health will be APHA who are responsible for the import of live animals and plants. More information on their processes can be found on the government website.

+ How long should a release /process take?

This will vary depending on the product being imported, the risk associated with the product, the amount of paperwork required and the location of the products to be checked on the trailer. It will be the responsibility of the agent or importer to ensure that all documents are present and correct, paid for, and that the BCP has been notified in order for the process to run smoothly.

+ What percentage of the imported stock needs to be checked? How is this percentage determined?

From 1 July 2022 100 % of the documents will be checked and a percentage of imports will be selected for physical and identity checks at the BCP, this will be on a risk based criteria developed by DEFRA. The exact percentages will be confirmed in the near future.

+ Do the BCP charge per trailer or per commodity code?

Charges are based on the size of the consignment per commodity code. This again will depend on how the imported products have been registered on the health certificates etc. If the product is register as one commodity code, there will be one charge.

Please be aware that you may receive extra charges if you do not comply with the pre notification requirements.

+ Would I be fined if there are delays on the other side of the Channel and I cannot pre-notify the BCP?

You should do your best to notify us of any arrivals as soon as possible. If there are delays on the other side of the channel, the arrival will be delayed but the notification can still take place. Once we are operational we will be linking our website to pick up any delays notified on the Eurotunnel website to assist you.

+ How will I pay the fees?

Prior to arrival, you will need to register onto IPAFFS/PHILIS DES, set up a personal account. There will be two options available to you:

  1. You can pay by BACs and set up an integrated finance account. A minimum balance will be agreed depending on your quantity of imports and frequency. The fees of each imports will be automatically deducted and a warning message will appear when the balance is reaching a minimum. This is the preferred option for companies making large volumes of imports each day/week.
  2. You will be able to pay as you go with a credit card if you wish to do so. But you will be required to send proof of payment by email before your imports are cleared to proceed.

At the end of each month a statement will be available to you.

Log in or Register for PHILIS DES to complete your COI/IUU pre-notification

+ Can we notify you by e-mail or do we need to enroll?

Notification will be made prior to arriving onto the PHILIS DES /IPAFFS system once we are operating as a border control facility. You can enroll for PHILIS DES and pre notify us through concerning IUU clearances from 7 June 2021.

+ What documents do I need to import HRFNAO into the UK?

High risks foods subject to controls not of animal origin must also be entered onto the IPAFFS system and you may also need a certificate of analysis and phyto sanitary certificate from the country of origin as well as other supporting commercial documents. Please check on the Food Standards Agency web pages for up to date guidance.

+ What happens when the checks have been done?

Once all checks are complete the authorized officr will complete section 2 of the CHED certificate. This will be returned to the importer or agent in order to accompany the consignment to its destination.

If all checks and documents are satisfactory then the consignment will be free to go to its destination.

If the checks are unsatisfactory, the importer will be notified and several options will be available, dependent on the severity of the non-compliance.

Please see Chapter V of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 and The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulation 2011 for more information.

+ What should I do with my paperwork, does it have to accompany the consignment?

Yes please keep the originals which should travel with the load and in case it is called into the BCP for official controls purposes.

These documents are crucial for the purposes of traceability which is legal food safety requirement.

+ At present the checks are being made in France, will this continue once the BCP is operating? Would we need one check in France and another in Sevington?

We would advise that the importer / agent registers onto PHILIS DES and uploads all documentation prior to goods leaving the country of dispatch. A pre notification is advisable with a minimum of 4 hours prior but this is subject to change.

+ What are the payments options?

The importer / agent will be able to register for a PHILIS DES account. A minimum balance will be agreed depending on the imports and fees will be deducted automatically. A notification will be sent to the account holder when the account is reaching a low balance in order for them to do a top up and a monthly statement will be available.  You will also be able to pay with a credit card if needed.

More advice on fees can be found on our website.

+ What happens prior to the Sevington site being in operation? Can we use any of the BCP’s that have a clearance authorisation?

Depending on the product and the individual BCPs level of authorisation, any import at this point can go to another port i.e. Southampton, Felixstowe, Heathrow or Dover for pre notifications. Once Sevington is operational checks must be made here as it will be the first point of entry into the UK.

+ There are concerns regarding delays. What are the contingency plans regarding perishable foods?

Eurotunnel will have in place a contingency plan in case of delays with options for holding stock, but this would have to be discussed with Eurotunnel. We will have cold storage at the BCP for holding stock, due to physical checks/sampling, if required.

We are advising that to reduce the delays, all paperwork can be uploaded early and fees paid to allow a fast process through the BCP.

The time scale for checks at the BCP will vary on the number of commodities to check, the amount of sampling required and the location of the stock on the trailer.

+ Will Sevington be operating on a 24/7?

Yes, Ashford Port Health at Sevington will be operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

+ What would happen if the original documentation gets lost on the way to the BCP?

Where an original certificate has been lost or destroyed, the competent authority of exporting country may provide an authenticated copy of the original certificate. CODEX rules allow for replacement certificates to be issued. Commission advice is that these should be used in limited circumstances such as lost or destroyed certificates and for minor mistakes in the original certificate. They should not be used for more fundamental problems such as misrepresentation of the consignment. Replacement certificates should include the reference number of the cancelled certificate. Further guidance on replacement certificates can be found at point 4.2.2 in the transit guidance.

+ Who will deal with import duty?

The BCP would not be dealing with import duty.  This is solely the responsibility of HMRC and more information can be found on the HMRC website.

+ Which CHED certificate do I need?

As follows:

  • CHED A: Animals
  • CHED PP : Plants
  • CHED D: Food and Feed not of Animal Origin
  • CHED P: Food and Feed of Animal Origin

+ When do I need Catch Certificate?

One catch certificate will be required for each Commodity/Species of Fish.

To Import fish to the UK from another country (excluding EU fish into Northern Ireland), you will need a catch certificate validated by the competent authority of the country where the fishing vessel is registered or licensed.

The format of catch certificates will vary depending on which exporting country produced them, but they will all ask for specific information such as:

  • Vessel name
  • Catch species
  • Estimated weights

For fish that has been stored or processed you may also need the following documents validated by the competent authority:

  • Processing statement filled in by the processor
  • Documents showing the fish was stored prior to export

Port Health Authorities in Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales), or fisheries authorities in NI, will check these documents for UK freight imports. Fisheries administrations are responsible for checking catch certificates for direct landings into the UK.

The import of Tuna and Swordfish requires both a catch certificate and an analytical report.

Comprehensive and up to date guidance can be found on the government website.

+ Does the change in the EU Composite product legislation apply to me?

For Imports, the new change of legislation does not apply to the UK and the rule still apply as follows. If a composite product contains <50% meat extra checks are required.

For Exports of composite products the UK needs to comply with the new EU legislation and checks will be carried out based on the risk factors and shelf stability.

+ Does my health certificate need to be in English?

Export Health Certificates (EHCs) must be drawn up in one or more of the official languages of the European Union, understood by the certifying officer and by the BCP. This means you only need to provide EHCs in English and the language of the member state of entry into the EU. You are not required to provide a translation for the member state of destination, if different from the member state of entry. Changes will be made to EHC online in mid-May to reflect this, removing the third language of the certificate altogether. Until then, the third language version can be discarded.

+ What do I need to do prior to importing fish & fish products?

Imports of fish and shellfish to Great Britain must be:

Pre-notified on IPAFFS and accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of origin

Health certificates need to be completed and signed by a qualified certifying officer. At the point of entry, all goods will be subject to documentary and ID checks and a small proportion of goods will be subject to physical checks.

Imports are also subject to customs formalities including the need to complete a customs import declaration and to pay any applicable duties and VAT.

+ Can I import live fish to the UK?

You need authorisation from the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), CEFAS to import live fish, molluscs and crustaceans for:

  • Ornamental purposes
  • Farming
  • Human consumption
  • Scientific research
  • ‘Put and Take’ fisheries (where catches can be taken home)
  • Public aquariums and zoos
  • Spas and medical use (nibble fish)

All sources must be approved by the FHI who will check that the source country you are importing from is approved and can meet the animal health certification requirements for import into the GB.

You can get an unlimited fine if you import fish or shellfish without authorisation.

+ Should I use a Customs Clearance agent?

Customs agents are there to facilitate a professional service between HM Customs & Excise and importers/exporters. Agents have significant understanding of the Customs rules and regulations applicable and are therefore best suited to provide assistance.

+ What supporting customs clearance documentation do I require?

Basic documentation would be:

  • Shipping document (Bill of Lading – original or fax)
  • Supplier’s Commercial Invoice
  • Packing list

Other documentation required for specific goods would be:

  • Certificate of Origin
  • Preference Certificates
  • Health certificates ( for foodstuffs etc.)
  • Certificate of Analysis (COA)
  • Organic certificate

Note: Importers should check before they ship if any special documentation is required.

+ What happens if an organic consignment arrives in GB without an endorsed Certificate of Inspection (COI)?

If an organic consignment arrives without an endorsed COI (either the original or a copy), the consignment cannot be cleared as organic. The goods must be either re-labelled, removing all reference to organics, re-exported as non-organic or destroyed.

+ How do I get clearance to export goods to the EU?

As for importing, you will need to contact the BCP to let them know that you will be using in the EU that is designated to handle the products you are exporting from GB to the EU. You select the country you are landing in and then select what you are bringing in and it will give you the BCP's able to handle that commodity.

+ What is an identity check?

An identity check involves checking that the stamps, official marks, official labelling and/or health/ID marks on the product or its packaging match with those recorded in the documents for the consignment.

+ What is a physical check?

A physical check is defined as "a check of the product itself, possibly including sampling and laboratory testing".

+ Can I import from approved establishments in EU countries?

To import from EU member states, you need to manually enter details of the approved establishment in IPAFFS:

On the ‘Traders addresses’ page, select ‘Add a place of origin’, then select ‘Create a new place of origin’.

In the ‘Place of origin name’ field, enter the full name of the exporting establishment, then its authorisation number. You can check the name against the EU’s lists of approved establishments.

In the ‘Place of origin’ fields, enter the full address, telephone number, country and email address for the approved establishment where requested.

Save these details. Then you can add the approved establishment to your pre-notification. Details will be saved to your address book so that you can use them again.

+ Can I import from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, San Marino, Faroes or Greenland?

If there is no option on IPAFFS to select the approved establishment from a drop-down menu, you need to enter details manually following the same process as for EU countries.

+ When a haulier is used to collect goods from an Exporter in the EU to bring to an Importer in the UK, who is responsible for uploading documentation and pre notification prior to arriving?

The Importer/Agent is responsible to pre-notify in IPAFFS and PHILIS DES. The importer will have to deal with the Exporters to ensure all the paperwork is ready and submitted in order for him to upload it. If any documents are missing, the Importer will have to liaise with the Exporter to correct this before the consignment leaves its origin. Then the original paperwork will have to go to the consignment. The haulier doesn’t have to complete anything regarding paperwork for SPS checks.

The importer is responsible for the goods and any decisions that are made regarding them. If a product is stopped and detained or rejected, it is the Importer’s responsibility and they will be responsible of all the charges.

The Haulier has a binding obligation with the Importer to deliver the goods, if they do not stop at the BCP if requested then they will be committing a serious offence. As per his transport contract, he is responsible for the load as he receipts it. So he will be subject to potential prosecution if he fails to comply with the instructions of PHA and he/she will be reported to Border Force.

+ Who will police the hauliers who bypass the ports?

They cannot decide to go through a BCP or not. From 1 January 2022, they will have to pre-notify via IPAFFS all consignments.

From 1 July 2022, full checks will be on place and consignments from EU will have to enter the UK through a designated BCP, be pre-notified and accompanied by a Health Export Certificate, where they might be subject to Identity and Physical checks. No animal or product may be brought into England other than at a border control post designated for that animal or product.

Failure to comply with that is an offence, and an In-land enforcement authority will seize any consignment brought into England other than through a border inspection post approved for that animal or product.

+ What is the procedure for importing tomatoes?

In regards to tomatoes from, these are not of interest to Port Health as such. The APHA has got their own criteria for ID the consignments for checks. They have got their own systems such as PEACH and other systems. When some commodities need to be pre-notified and APHA then determines selection for checks. In practice – we then end up sometimes checking on same consignment for different reasons (us for pesticides, APHA for bugs- and logic suggest at last one of them passed). It has been confirmed that there are no current diseases / bugs for tomatoes, but is always worth checking with APHA.

+ What is the procedure with shipments that are actually imported into the EU from third countries and have had their IUU checks carried out in the EU?

Up until 1 July 2022 if a consignment is coming from the EU, we would need see evidence that all the checks have been done. i.e. Validated CHED, Copy Customs Clearance showing that the goods have been cleared for European Trade and any other relevant documents.