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IUU Catch Certificates

Fish market

Combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU): 

Illegal fishing has environmental, social, and economic impacts. As well as direct impacts on the sustainability of fish stocks and efforts to manage fisheries as a sustainable resource, there are also indirect impacts on local fishermen and communities who are dependent on fish stocks for their own consumption and livelihood. 

Europe wide import controls, introduced by the EC in 2008, aim to cut out Europe as a market for illegal fish. 

To prove that an imported consignment is compliant with regulations, it must be accompanied by a catch certificate issued by the government that manages the fishing vessel. 

Port Health works with the Marine and Management Organisation (MMO) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to ensure that controls are properly applied. 

Third Country origin

Products Subject to Import Checks

The Regulation applies to marine caught fishery products.

Freshwater and farmed (aquaculture) fish and marine fish imported for ornamental purposes fall outside of the scope of the Regulation (see Regulation 1005/2008, Annex I https://www.legislation.gov.uk/eur/2008/1005/annex/I

Composite Products


Products made up of fish and other ingredients may be covered by the Regulation. If the product falls under CN Code 03, 1604 or 1605, a catch certificate will be required. This applies where there is any wild caught fish content.

You may be asked to provide written confirmation from HMRC Tariff Classification team https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ask-hmrc-for-advice-on-classifying-your-goods of the commodity code for your goods.


Importers are required to notify Port Health of the intended arrival of the consignment two working hours prior to arrival.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00.

For example, if you have a consignment which is due to arrive on Saturday at 13:00, this would need to be pre-notified by 15:00 on Friday, before the consignment is landed.

The importer will be required to register for a PHILIS account to enable completion of the online pre-notification form, which may take several days to be approved. Once approved, a confirmation email will be received by the importer, which will contain their log in details and organisation number.

A ‘help’ section can be found under the support button within the PHILIS system once you have logged in, which provides information on how to submit a pre-notification. You will have to complete the mandatory boxes and then save and submit the pre-notification. A box will appear stating ‘Submitted successfully’.

Supporting documentation (catch certificate, sea waybill, invoice, packing list etc.) can be attached to the pre-notification or e-mailed to porthealth@dover.gov.uk

Documentary Check

All imports will be subjected to a documentary check to ensure that the catch certificate and associated paperwork relates to the consignment and that it is valid. The catch certificate format will be checked along with the stamps and signatures of the Flag State. Vessels will be checked against the list of known IUU vessels (vessels previously found to have been engaged in illegal fishing activities). Further checks may be carried out on catch areas and Regional Fishery Management Organisation information, where applicable.

Where there may be a discrepancy between the catch certificate and associated paperwork, additional checks may be undertaken on the consignment, including identity and physical checks.

Satisfactory Checks

Upon satisfactory completion of the IUU checks, the paperwork will be signed and stamped by the Port Health Authority and returned to the agent. The agent will need to submit a copy of the endorsed catch certificate to HMRC, to enable the consignment to be released.

Unsatisfactory Checks

If significant issues are discovered during IUU checks, which are in breach of the Regulations, a referral to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will be made.

Products failing to satisfy import conditions may be re-exported to a country outside the UK (provided the receiving country competent authority is in agreement). If the consignment is deemed to have been fished illegally it could be confiscated or destroyed (at a cost to the importer).

Documents you need to submit

When Port Health are completing IUU checks on an consignment, there are certain documents that we will need to see to be able to endorse the catch certificates and release the consignment.

These are:

Original catch certificate(s)

Required when the country exporting the fish is the same as the country the fishing vessel is flagged to (this may be a printed electronic version dependant on the country issuing the catch certificate, e.g. Norway).

Original processing statement (Annex IV) and copy catch certificate(s)

Required when the fishery product(s) are processed (before export) in a country that is not the same as the flag state of the catching vessel.

Original storage document with copy catch certificate(s)

Required when the fish is stored (before export) in a country that is not the same as the flag state of the catching vessel and/or processing country.

Importer’s declaration

All catch certificates submitted (original and copy) must have the Importer’s declaration section completed by the importer or their representative.

As an alternative a Multiple Catch Certificate Summary Document can be downloaded, completed, signed and submitted with the catch certificate documentation. 

Copy commercial documents

Bills of lading/CMR, invoice and packing list

We have put together an IUU Importer Checklist to help you ensure you have all documentation needed for a fish consignment.

Due to a change in our processes please can you include your IMP reference number when submitting any pre notification on PHILIS.

EU Origin

Since 1 January 2021, EU origin marine caught fishery products which are imported into Great Britain fall within the scope of the IUU Regulations. 

There currently is not an IUU Customs hold on consignments of fish from the EU covered by the IUU requirements. Importers will still need to pre-notify Port Health of these imports and submit their IUU documents in advance to PHAs, in-line with the IUU Regulations. The only exception to this will be for imports of Bluefin Tuna and Antarctic and Patagonian Toothfish which will be subject to a Customs hold. Imports from non-EU countries will continue to have a Customs hold on fish products.

Fees and Charges

Fees are payable for checking documentation and examination or sampling consignments should it prove necessary.

Our current fees and charges can be found here

Please email porthealth@dover.gov.uk to set up a payment account prior to the arrival of an Import.

Port Health Contact