Expert Advice for SPS Control Compliance

International trade in food, plants and animal products is governed by what are known as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls.

As an importer of SPS goods, your goods will require certificates, checks and inspections. These must be completed at the border before your products gain entry into the UK.

Our specialist training modules and bespoke consultancy services help importers prepare to ensure efficiency and compliance.


SPS Controls: A Definition

SPS controls are international rules designed to protect the health and safety of animals, plants, and consumers. Governments around the world, including the EU, UK and US, set requirements in accordance with international standards to protect their bio-security.

Consignments consisting of SPS-controlled products require additional certificates and undergo a series of checks before arrival in the destination country.

Products that fall under the SPS regime include food, plants, livestock, including products derived from animals, fish, shellfish or plants.

Importers must satisfy SPS controls in order for goods to pass border checks.

In brief, the process for importing SPS goods involves:

  • Obtaining certification, such as an EHC (Export Health Certificate) signed by an Official Veterinarian
  • Submitting an import pre-notification to country or port of arrival
  • Facilitating documentary, identity and physical inspections
  • Importing goods via a specified border control post (BCP)

You can find more details on SPS regulations, such as this Updated Guide to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Checks, on our resources page.

What are the Purposes of SPS Controls?

SPS controls are designed to protect human, animals and plant health. They stipulate a series of measures to minimise the risk of pests, diseases, harmful toxins, contaminants or other potentially dangerous hazards entering a country.

SPS controls between the UK and the EU are governed by the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This agreement provides a practical framework for sanitary (human or animal life) and phytosanitary (plant life) trade controls and enforcement.

It allows nations to set their own goods and food safety standards, provided they are substantiated by science, and also prevents strict health and safety requirements from being used by domestic organisations to protect business interests.


SPS Compliance Best Practices for Businesses

  • Do take heed of expert advice and specialist guidance

  • Do train your team and nominate staff to oversee SPS measures

  • Do keep accurate, consistent, up-to-date records

  • Don’t overlook updates/changes to SPS controls

  • Don’t ignore red flags or irregularities in your supply chain

  • Don’t forget: help with SPS compliance is close at-hand


Ensure Your Compliance

Expert Training Modules

Our specially-designed training courses help you and your team learn practical trade information in a clear and concise way. Find out more about ways to upskill and grow your business now.

clearBorder Bespoke Consultancy

Efficient. Clear. Practical. Trustworthy. These are just some of the elements that make our consultancy services the best in the business, allowing our clients to trade seamlessly across borders and grow their internatinal trade.


SPS Controls & Beyond with clearBorder

Streamline your internal systems, ensure you always provide the correct documentary evidence, and trade efficiently in safety and confidence.

  • Import & Export SPS Products with Ease
    Import & Export SPS Products with Ease

    We ensure your compliance with SPS requirements. Our expert advice and training allow you to trade smoothly and reduces the risk of expensive delays. Whether it’s obtaining a phytosanitary certificate, understanding the BCP (border control point) process, preparing for inspection, or proving origin, we will help you streamline your operations.

  • Minimise the Risk of Penalties and Delays
    Minimise the Risk of Penalties and Delays

    Failure to comply with SPS controls risks fines, prosecution and leads to expensive delay. Even unintentional breaches result in goods being seized or returned, often resulting in wasted product. In extreme cases you may face fines or even imprisonment. Our specialist guidance helps you minimise the risk of expensive errors.

  • Move Goods Ethically & Sustainably
    Move Goods Ethically & Sustainably

    Ultimately, SPS controls aim to protect human, plant and animal life. Compliance means you’ll not only ensure you are on a solid legal footing; you’ll protect your reputation too. You can grow your brand, your markets and your customer experience in a sustainable way.

  • Ongoing Compliance with Future Regulations
    Ongoing Compliance with Future Regulations

    We’re experts in SPS controls. We keep up-to-date with regulations so that our clients don’t have to. SPS controls change in response to emerging threats, diseases and political upheaval. We ensure our clients are always compliant with current regulations and ahead of future changes.

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Types of Goods Subject to SPS Controls

Food, animals, plants and products produced from them fall under SPS controls. This can also include soil, seeds and used machinery. For example:

  • Live animals and/or livestock
  • Products of Animal Origin (POAO), like soups or sausages
  • Fish, shellfish, or derived products
  • Plants and plant products, like cut flowers
  • High-risk food not of animal origin (HRFNAO), like some nut varieties
  • Animal by-products, like pet food or leather
  • Seeds, semen or embryos
  • Used agricultural or forestry machinery

If you’re wondering whether your company deals with SPS goods, or how to handle them, contact the clearBorder team today for expert insight and clear guidance.

SPS Control Regulations & Agencies

SPS controls are generally derived from the WTO (World Trade Organization) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This “sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards.”

In addition, a number of standard-setting bodies and observer organisations participate in the application of SPS controls.

This includes bodies such as the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (for food safety), WOAH (founded as OIE) (for animal health and zoonoses), and FAO International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) (for plants).

Within the UK, the Trade Specialised Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, as part of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), administers SPS controls.

SPS Certificate & Documentary Requirements

Knowing which certificates you need to fulfil your SPS control obligations can be a time-consuming, laborious and confusing process.

Our tailored consultancy services and training modules help you to prepare and ensure ongoing compliance.

For UK and EU imports, you’re likely to need a certificate such as an EHC (Export Health Certificate) or Phytosanitary Certificate signed by an Official Veterinarian or plant health inspector. You’ll also need to make a pre-notification to inform the port of arrival.

At the BCP (Border Control Post), your product will undergo documentary check and possibly a physical inspection, before being granted entry to the UK.

Other countries have equivalent SPS import requirements. Contact us for more information.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Importers who fail to comply with SPS controls may face costly penalties. These can range in severity, depending on the nature of the infringement.
Seizure and destruction of consignments
Financial penalties for importers or drivers
Import or export licences revoked
Criminal prosecution and imprisonment

Ensure you have clear, expert support to keep your business compliant with SPS controls.


Meet the clearBorder Team

Christopher Salmon
Chief Executive
Christopher Salmon
Christopher Salmon founded clearBorder to help businesses optimise trade. He has wide experience across trade and borders, working with businesses of all sizes and sectors as well as being closely involved in government border modernisation programmes. Christopher oversaw the border during the UK’s exit from the EU as Senior Adviser to Michael Gove MP. He has experience across all aspects of border processes, from IT systems to business requirements and port infrastructure. Christopher was raised on a farm in mid-Wales and has over 20 years’ experience across government, business and in politics at local and national level.
Khyati Amin
Senior Consultant
Khyati Amin
Khyati Amin leads clearBorder’s strategic consulting work. She brings extensive experience as a strategy consultant with KPMG and deep knowledge of borders, supply chains and UK Government programmes from her work with clearBorder. She has worked on projects across sectors and led teams covering growth strategy, due diligence. Khyati brings extensive experience of market analysis and business development from work with her faKhyati brings extensive experience of market analysis and business development from work with her family business, one of the largest industrial piping suppliers in India. Khyati speaks native Hindi.
Mary Calam
Mary Calam
Mary is clearBorder’s chairwoman, responsible for providing a sounding board for the CEO and internal team and assuring corporate governance. Mary has extensive expertise in risk, governance and strategy, having worked at senior levels across the public and private sectors. Her government career spanned law enforcement, counter terrorism and national security, latterly as Director General for Crime, Policing and Fire in the Home Office. On leaving government, Mary joined McKinsey & Company, serving government and private sector clients around the world. She now holds a number of non executive director and trustee roles in public and private sector organisations and works as an independent consultant.
Rizwan Khan
Customer Accounts
Rizwan Khan
Rizwan Khan manages clearBorder’s training services and provides on-hand advice to businesses moving goods. Rizwan supports clients with customs requirements, paperwork, SPS processes, audit preparations and recordkeeping. He assists customers with training courses and detailed import and export queries. Rizwan brings extensive experience at the front end of customs and border processes from his work DHL Global Forwarding, Alpi and his time at clearBorder. Riz is an avid Liverpool supporter.
Sarah Rice
Senior Consultant
Sarah Rice
Sarah Rice leads clearBorder’s operational consultancy work. Sarah has 20 years of experience in customs and borders, including 15 covering export controls and advanced manufacturing. She has worked with advanced manufacturing, defence goods, dual-use items, research institutes and experimental technologies. Her expertise covers UK and US export control regimes (ITAR/EAR). Sarah has a degree in law and professional qualifications covering UK, US, and EU border controls.
Ugne Dapkeviciene
Business Support
Ugne Dapkeviciene
Ugne brings extensive business operations and office management experience. She is expert at navigating complex business processes and ensuring the smooth operation of business processes with UK and international clients. Ugne is a native Lithuanian speaker.


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