Advice from Government on preparing for a no-deal Brexit

The UK Government has released a range of guidance materials on how businesses should prepare for a no-deal Brexit. On this page, we summarise the advice that is relevant to farmers and the wider food supply chain.

These cover:

Farming and growing Importing and exporting Labelling products and making them safe Protecting the environment EU labour

Farming and growing

The government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this parliament, expected in 2022: this includes all funding provided for farm support under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the current CAP. This commitment applies to the whole UK.

The UK government has guaranteed that any projects (such as Countryside Stewardship) where funding has been agreed before the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime. This means, in the event the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the UK government would fund any remaining payments to farmers, land managers and rural businesses due after March 2019. This would ensure continued funding for these projects until they finish.

No immediate action is required in respect of current active substance approvals, Plant Protection Products (PPP) authorisations, and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). These will all remain valid in the UK and EU after exit day as now.

In a no deal scenario, the UK would establish an independent standalone PPP regime, with all decision making repatriated from the EU to the UK. This would ensure that a stable regulatory framework for pesticides is put in place from the point we leave the EU by retaining the two main directly applicable EU regulations in national law, through the provisions of the EU Withdrawal Act.

To ensure that processes run smoothly, there would be an extension of three years to active substance approvals, which are due to expire in the three years after we leave the EU.

Elements of the current regime, which rely on EU membership, would no longer be able to operate in a no deal scenario e.g. the arrangements whereby EU countries can choose to mutually recognise product approvals and also parallel trade permits.



Plant variety rights

If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal, EU plant variety rights granted up to that point, including those held by UK businesses, would continue to be recognised in the remaining 27 EU countries. Those rights would also automatically be recognised and given protection under UK legislation, without rights holders needing to take any action.

Marketing seed and propagating material in the EU

Common catalogue varieties will be recognised by the UK – for the next two years.  Varieties with pending applications can make a UK application and the EU data will be recognised by the UK.  For seed potatoes, the proposed interim period is 1 year. Contact Defra for more recent updates regarding seed potatoes.

Varieties registered solely via UK National Listing would no longer be listed on the EU Common Catalogue and would not be marketable in the EU. UK certified seed and propagating material and UK DUS testing of plant varieties would no longer be accepted in the EU.

Marketing seed and propagating material in the UK

Varieties that are already registered on the EU Common Catalogue, but not on the UK list, are currently being added to the UK National List, which would allow them to be marketed in the UK after the interim period. Any business wanting to add varieties to the National List in this way should contact APHA. Email and phone numbers are on GOV.UK.

In a ‘no deal’ scenario, Defra intends to allow varieties on the EU Common Catalogue to be marketed in the UK for an interim period of two years after the UK leaves the EU, and to apply the same interim period to the marketing of EU certified seed and propagating material.

UK-recognised breed societies and operations involved in the trade and movement of purebred livestock and germinal products would no longer be recognised societies or operations in the EU.

A recognised UK breed society or breeding operation would no longer be automatically entitled to enter their pedigree breeding animals into an equivalent breeding book in the EU and would have no right to extend a breeding programme into the EU.

Importing and exporting

Simplified customs processes for UK businesses trading with the EU in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

There are various subjects covered, including:

  • Importing with/without an agent
  • Goods that will be modified
  • Goods in the UK temporarily
  • Moving goods across partner countries
  • Running a storage facility
  • Deferring duty

Arrangements for importers or exporters, using roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods between the EU and the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


Customs formalities will need completing in the EU before checking goods on to a ferry/train to come into the UK. They cannot happen upon arrival.


A combined safety and security, and customs declaration, must be completed by the exporter or customs agent before the goods get to the departure port.

The UK will need to establish a UK trade tariff in the event of a no deal. This is expected to be released end of January/beginning of February.

Customs and excise with the EU will work in the same way as countries outside of the EU. This would mean import and export declaration. The UK is looking to keep VAT procedures as close as possible to what it is now, although there will be some changes.

Businesses that export or import goods to and from the EU will need to register for an EORI number. Register for your number here:

The government will introduce postponed accounting for import VAT on goods brought into the UK. Regulatory aspects will be carried out by UK Trade Remedies Authority (TRA). 

The government will seek to bring into force bilateral UK-third country agreements from exit day, or as soon as possible thereafter. These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements and the same preferential effects with third countries as far as possible, whilst making the technical changes needed to ensure the agreements operate in a bilateral context.


Exporting all animal products and live animals will require Export Health Certificates (EHC) and will need to pass through Border Inspection Posts (BIP) to be signed by an official vet. The UK will have to change its health and identification marks on Products of Animal Origin (POAO) by removing EC. The UK will need to obtain third country status with the EU before any product can be traded; there is no clear indication when the EU will approve this. UK transporters will need to apply for new licences in order to transport live animals in the EU.

Step-by-step guide

Step-by-step flowchart 

The majority will continue to enter the UK as they do now, as they are low-risk. Exceptions are; plants and plant products managed under the EU plant passport regime, plants and plant products moving within the UK and plants and plant products that come from non-EU countries, but travel to the UK via the EU without an EU country carrying out plant health checks.

UK businesses holding EU authorisations for GM food or feed, or for animal feed additives, will need to designate a representative established in the EU.

Labelling products and making them safe

Regulatory decisions on proposed GMO trials will continue to be made within the UK as they are now on a devolved basis.

Regulatory decisions on marketing GMOs will be made within the UK rather than at EU level, but the same risk assessment process will be applied. Defra and the devolved administrations are discussing whether decisions will be taken jointly on a UK-wide basis, or separately in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UK businesses would only be able to export GMO products to the EU if the GMO in question has EU marketing approval. Similarly, EU exports to the UK of GM products would be dependent on there being approval for marketing here.

Any EU decisions authorising the marketing of GMOs which are in force on the day we leave the EU will remain applicable here until the expiry of the current EU consent period (details of EU decisions under Directive 2001/18).

For UK exports of GMOs to non-EU countries, the rules in Regulation 1946/2003 as converted into UK law will continue to apply.

Food businesses will have a 21-month transition period for the most significant changes to food labels.

However, use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK.

For pre-packed products sold in the UK, the label would need to include the name and a UK address of the responsible food business operator. The food business operator is the business under whose name the food is marketed in the UK or, if that operator is not established in the UK, the importer of the product into the UK.

An EU address alone would no longer be valid for the UK market. Similarly, a UK address alone would no longer be valid for the EU market and an address within the remaining EU member states will be required following EU exit. A UK address together with an EU address on the label would mean that the label is valid for both the UK and EU markets.

Logos on packaging would need to change. There would be a grace period to use up existing stock. UK organic operators would not be permitted to use the EU organic logo. UK organic operators may continue to use their control body’s logo. Defra has commissioned research on organic logos used worldwide which will provide evidence for developing any future UK logo.

UK businesses would only be able to export to the EU if they were certified by an organic control body recognised and approved by the EU to operate in the UK. To do this, UK organic control bodies will need to apply to the European Commission for recognition.

UK control bodies are not permitted to make these applications until the UK becomes a ‘third country’.

There will be a three-year transition period for the new UK Geographical Indication scheme's logo. The new UK logo will be available from 29 March 2019 so producers have the option to make GI labelling changes before the end of the adoption period, if they wish.

There are two issues for UK producers of GI products to consider:

  • the use of a new UK logo on products marketed in the UK
  • the preparation of an application for GI status in the EU, or other steps that producers may wish to take in order to protect product integrity - applying for trade mark protection, for example

The criteria for managing existing substances and new substances exhibiting characteristics of POPs would remain the same. Future updates would be in accordance with Stockholm Convention decisions and agreed scientific and technical progress. The Secretary of State, Scottish Minister, Welsh Minister and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland are responsible for ensuring that these substances are not produced and do not reach the market once identified in accordance with restrictions set out in the annexes to the legislation. Competent authorities in the relevant country should be contacted if there are any concerns about a substance.

The UK would establish an independent standalone biocidal products regime.

The UK would put in place a stable regulatory framework for biocidal products from the point of exit, by retaining the BPR and its subsidiary regulations in national law using the provisions of the EU Withdrawal Act. At the time of exit, the national regime would be essentially the same as the current EU framework, with changes made only where they are required to enable the regime to operate effectively in a national context.

This would ensure continued levels of protection for human health and the environment and give certainty to UK businesses putting biocidal products on the market.

The FSA is not planning to change approval numbers, but the health and identification marks would need to change after 29 March 2019.

The UK would not be entitled to use any abbreviation in the health and identification marks that implies membership of the EU. The form of the health and identification marks would therefore need to change.

Protecting the environment

The UK’s legal framework for enforcing domestic environmental legislation by UK regulatory bodies or court systems is unaffected by leaving the EU and continues to apply. Environmental targets currently covered by EU legislation are already covered in domestic legislation. Permits and licenses issued by UK regulatory bodies will continue to apply as now.

There is no change to the UK’s deep commitment to domestic and international efforts to tackle climate change. The UK’s Climate Change Act is domestic legislation and will be unaffected by exiting the EU.

EU Labour

Workers in the UK will continue to be entitled to the rights they have under UK law. The government will make small amendments to the language of workplace legislation to ensure the existing regulations reflect the UK is no longer an EU country. These amendments will not change existing policy.

EU citizens will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. The scheme will open by 30 March 2019 with the deadline of applications 30 June 2021.

While the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board seeks to ensure that the information contained within this website is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect thereof and, to the maximum extent permitted by law, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused (including that caused by negligence) or suffered directly or indirectly in relation to information and opinions contained in or omitted from this website.