(18) 01 EU ban on the import and placing on the market of seal products

This is an update on the ban on importing seal, walrus and sea lion products into the EU, and what’s exempt from the ban.

Subject to permitted exemptions, Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 applies an EU-wide ban on the commercial import and placing on the market of all seal products and any products containing such items.

The ban also covers products from walruses and sea lions.

For this regulation, ‘import’ is interpreted as declaring imported goods for free circulation.

This ban is in addition to the existing EU-wide ban on the commercial import of harp and hooded seal pup skins and any products containing such skin.

In October 2015, Regulation (EU) No 2015/1775 amended Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 by reducing the types of permitted exemptions.

References in CIP10/55 to Commission Regulation (EU) No. 737/2010 have been replaced by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2015/1850.

Exemptions to the ban

If you import under a permitted exemption, you’ll need a customs declaration.

You can still import seal products into the EU for free circulation, but only if they’re for the personal use of travellers and their families, or they result from traditional hunts by Inuit and other indigenous communities that:

  • contribute to their subsistence
  • aren’t conducted primarily for commercial purposes
  • are conducted in a manner which has due regard to animal welfare

Documents needed for exemptions

Where a consignment of seal products is being imported for release to free circulation and there’s an exemption for the personal use of travellers and their families, a seal catch attestation certificate must accompany the goods.

The attestation certificate must be endorsed by the relevant certifying authorities in the country of origin. A copy of the attestation certificate can be found in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2015/1850.

To claim an exemption, the certifying authority must be recognised by the Commission.

There’s no requirement for the attestation certificate to be presented to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) National Clearance Hub to obtain release for free circulation.

Importers or their representatives should retain the attestation certificate with other accompanying customs documentation in their records.

Personal imports

No documentary evidence is needed when the seals products are worn by travellers or are contained in their personal luggage.

Additionally, no evidence is needed where the nature and quantity of those goods don’t indicate they’re being imported for commercial reasons.

Where goods are imported after travellers have arrived in the EU, those travellers are required to produce both:

  • a document showing the goods were acquired in the originating country, such as a sales invoice
  • written notification of future import

This documentation must be endorsed by Border Force when a traveller returns to the UK, and should be kept by the traveller to show that goods are eligible for exemption if they’re imported at a later date.

It’s the traveller’s responsibility to present the required documentation to a Border Force officer for endorsement on arrival at a UK port.

Evidence of exemption isn’t needed when you transfer your normal place of residence from a third country to the UK.

You can email Border Force National Immigration and Customs Enquiries at bfnice@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

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