EU Food Imports Fish and Fishery Products

The EU is the most extensive importer of fish and fishery products, which makes it an exciting market. Before making any plans, you have to understand the regulations and controls in place and also, the relevant bodies to approach. For instance, the main body responsible for food safety is the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (SANCO).

EU Regulations for Fish and Fishery Products

EU regulations for fish and fishery products seek to ensure the fulfillment of citizens’ high expectations for quality and safety of their food. In this regard, there are process-oriented, and quality management controls in place. The Food and Veterinary Office further undertakes supervisory missions to exporting nations. So, how do you start exporting?

Starting Out

To sell products in the EU market countries have to be on the authorized list. SANCO handles the approval process based on the country’s inspection and control systems. The systems must ensure the fishery products conform to EU hygiene and health requirements. Negotiations for inclusion in the list of countries take place at the national level, by a competent local authority. Businesses communicate through this channel upon approval. Usually, each country has a unique code called the “EU number.” Follow this external link for the approved list:

The formal steps for approval for imports can be found here:

Approved Vessels and Establishments

For approved countries, the relevant national authority must inspect your facilities to determine if you met the eligibility criteria. Sometimes the Food and Veterinary office undertakes inspection missions to foster confidence.


Freezers, cold stores, processing plant or factory vessels should implement HACCP. This guarantees hygiene and health standards during packing and storage.

Microbiological Contamination

EU border inspections are thorough involving identity, documentation, and physical checks. Inspected products are expected to pass the microbiological contamination test, which can be difficult to control. Consignments can be destroyed or re-dispatched in special conditions.


Countries must establish as control plan to check on contaminants such as heavy metals, drugs or pesticides before shipping. To comply with EU requirements, you can test fish in recognized labs in your home country. Rejection of products with contaminants is usually costly.

Labelling Labs

Since 2014, the labeling laws have become strict than ever under Directive No 1379/2013. Labels have to contain information about the harvesting and production. The regulations also require declarations of harvesting area and fishing method used.

Fish Must Have Accompanying Certificates

In the past countries, such as Sri Lanka, and Cambodia has had their approvals revoked for failing to ship fish with a catch certificate. The law is in place to combat illegal fishing. Thus, an exporter this certificate is necessary. Fish products, on the other hand, need health certificates for the EU. Note that there are numerous laws, which affect different types of fish products. For more help you can find the full list of EU regulations for fish and fishery products; follow this link to the Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery products.

Another indispensable source is the EU export helpdesk.