Non-Tarrif Barriers

Non-tariff barriers are policies, rules or regulations as opposed to tariffs on products, that are imposed by governments that add costs or hindrances to trade between countries.

Product regulations: 

Product regulations come under two major headings:

  • Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures 
  • These regulations define what criteria a good needs to meet, in order to sell on the market. They also define the process by which a good has to be produced.
  • They exist to protect the public interest, although they often restrict market access and competitiveness for exporters.

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

  • Technical barriers to trade (TBT), more commonly known as ‘tariffs’ are rules, regulations or standards which can obstruct the  movement of goods across borders.
  • They exist to protect human health and safety, animals and plant life as well as the environment but often make it difficult to export goods overseas.
  • TBT’s involve imposing technical regulations and assessment processes to ensure goods conform to standards. (
  • TBTs are mainly applied to manufactured goods, such as safety standards for cars but also include labelling requirements on foodstuffs.


Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS):

SPS measures are regulatory measures relating to food and agricultural products.  They are implemented to protect:

  • Animal or plant life or health from risks of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms.
  • Human or animal life or health from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs.
  • Human life or health from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests and prevent or limit other damage from the entry, establishment or spread of pests.

The WTO’s “Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures” sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards.

As specified by Gov UK, from January 2021 new processes will be applied to the following imports:

  • «Animal products (including fishery products and live bivalve molluscs)»
  • “High-risk food and feed not of animal origin»
  • «Live animals (including live aquatic animals for aquaculture and ornamental purposes and equines)»
  • Plants and plant products»

The following processes and requirements will apply to these goods:

  • Import pre-notifications
    • As the importer, you need to submit details of your consignment in advance to the relevant regulatory body for your good.
    • IPAFFS (Import of Products Animals Food and Feed System) will be used by importers to pre-notify SPS imports.
  •  Health certification (e.g Export Health Certificate or Phytosanitary Certificate)
    • A document confirming that your product complies with the health requirements of your destination country.
    • Live animals will require inspection from an official veterinarian.
    • EHCO (Export Health Certificate Online) service will enable exporters to complete export health certificate (EHC) and phytosanitary certificate (PC) forms online (replacing the RoW EHC process).
  • Documentary, identity and physical checks at the border or inland.
    • Certifications and other relevant documents will be examined at the border and are must accompany the consignment at all times.
    • A visual inspection of your consignment will be conducted to ensure the goods content matches the documentation.
    • To ensure your goods comply with the SPS requirements, a physical check will be conducted. E.g temperature sampling, animal checks, labelling and packaging.
  • Entering through a Point of Entry with a ‘Border Control Post’ (BCP)
    • From July 2021, specific goods will need to enter the UK at a certain entry point to ensure the necessary checks can be conducted more thoroughly and efficiently.
    • A BCP is an inspection post where imports are checked against regulations and their accompanying documentation.
    • As an importer or exporter, you must ensure your goods travel through the relevant entry point.
    • Importers should inform the correct BCP of the arriving consignments prior to their arrival using the pre-notification procedure.
  • Additional import requirements will apply to:
    • Animal By-Products (ABP) not intended for human consumption.
    • Products of Animal Origin (POAO).
    • Fishery products and live bivalve molluscs.
    • Live aquatic animals for acquaculture and ornamental purposes.
    • High-Risk Food and Feed Not of Animal Origin (HRFNAO)
    • Live Animals and Germinal Products
    • Equines
    • Plants and Plant Products.