- Posted by Pattie
- On November 28, 2020
- 0 Comments
- Food Business Operator, Food Business Operators, NI Protocol, Protocol, Transition, transition period, UK Food Business Operator
Food Business Operators (FBOs)
Many UK FBO’s (Food Business Operators) , supply pre-packaged food based goods to Northern Ireland (NI) and to the EU. At present it is satisfactory for such businesses from GB, (England, Scotland & Wales) to display their own name and address on the packaging when they sell on the goods to the EU or NI. This is also the case if the food based goods are simply entering the food chain in these jurisdictions. From 1 January 2020, a UK Food Business Operators’ NI Address must be shown on the food label. No real clarification has been given as to what type of entity this NI or EU address has to be. In the meantime, Lets Letterbox can provide Food Business Operators NI Address which is a physical entity. Any FBOs based in NI however, will not have to change their procedures. They they will still be operating under EU labelling laws.
Background & NI Protocol
Negotiations took place between the UK and Europe after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. The Republic of Ireland (ROI) is still a member of the EU and there has been a long and complicated history between the the UK and ROI. So to prevent a hard border between NI and the Republic of Ireland, the NI Protocol was established. It was set-up as part of the “Withdrawal Agreement” produced by the negotiators during intense discussions. The NI Protocol allows Northern Ireland to continue to enforce the EU’s customs rules and EU rules on product standards. This means that there will be no checks on goods moving between NI and ROI. Crucially, it also allows trade to continue between NI and the rest of the UK. Article 6 Parts 1 and 2 of the Protocol states:-
“Nothing in this Protocol shall prevent the United Kingdom from ensuring unfettered market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to other parts of the United Kingdom’s internal market”
“…Having regard to Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom’s internal market, the
Union and the United Kingdom shall use their best endeavours to facilitate the trade between
Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom
UK-EU Trade Talks
UK businesses and in particular agri-food businesses and UK FBOs, are facing challenges at the end of the transition period. The Food and Drinks industry faces many uncertainties as the UK finally leaves the EU. As I write, (28th Nov 2020) ,trade negotiations between EU representatives and UK representatives are still taking place. We don’t know if a trade agreement between UK and EU is forthcoming. The aim of any trade agreement between the two would be to keep tariffs and checks to a minimum. If no trade agreement is reached, World Trade Organization (WTO) Rules will come into effect. However UK Food Business Operators and all UK businesses need to prepare for either outcome. This will ensure that they can continue to trade with the EU from 1 January 2020
UK Food Based Operators – Post Transition Requirements
Food labelling for UK based food products will become an issue after the transition period ends. Any food or drinks products that are placed on the EU market by Food Business Operators in GB, must continue to have food labels on their products. See Food & Drink Label Changes Post Transition
However these food based products must adhere to EU law. The labels must now show the name and address of the FBO responsible for complying with the EU food information rules. The GB address will no longer be sufficient. If the label only shows the GB address, the business will not be able to trade with the EU or NI. The address must be an EU address or a NI address, at which the GB producer is established. Importers of food based products into the EU or NI will also be required to have a EU or NI address.
Food Based Operators from the rest of the UK, need a Northern Ireland address (or EU address). This address must have the “knockability factor”. This means that the new address must not be a PO box. The person named on the food label must be easily contacted and the office address in NI or the EU must be a physical location. According to EU laws, EU citizens must be able to get comprehensive information about the content and composition of food products.
1st January 2020 Deadline
UK FBOs should get their new NI or EU address as soon as possible if they intend to put pre-packaged food products on the EU or NI markets. New food labels will have to be designed and produced. There is no transition period for this requirement. This is therefore an urgent consideration for FBOs in the UK as it will be implemented on 1 January 2020
Northern Ireland Office Address & Mailbox
NI businesses are in a unique position. If there is no UK-EU Trade Agreement, UK based businesses could face a raft of new legislation, paperwork, tariffs and checks . On the other hand, NI businesses are protected by the Protocol. They can operate in the same way as they do now. They can trade both within Europe and internally in the UK, without the need for laborious regulations and checks. Setting up an address or virtual office in Northern Ireland is an advantage not only to UK Food Business Operators, but to many other business sectors in the UK. Lets Letterbox in Belfast provides the perfect solution for UK businesses A new office address can be set up within a day and can provide your business with unfettered access to both the UK and EU markets.
We provide solutions for limited companies, small businesses and sole traders. Just follow these links to sign up Limited Company Service or LLP’s . Small Business/Sole Trader We provide registered office addresses, mailbox solutions and mail forwarding services. Our packages are designed to suit all budgets and are extremely cost effective
After the end of the transition period, UK businesses need to be prepared so that they can continue to trade with Europe on a level playing field. UK Food Business Operators in particular, face onerous new regulations. These problems do not need to be made any more difficult for UK businesses wishing to compete in the UK market. A Northern Ireland business address will help UK businesses in many sectors but no where more so than in the food and drinks industry. Preparation is key and now is the time to have your NI address in place. The NI address for FBOs is a grey area in terms of the whether or not the NI address for FBOs is an “established entity”. However, having the address in place would prove beneficial in the long term.