A-Z: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Port health

Belfast is home to one of the busiest ports in the UK and Ireland and is the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland.

The Port of Belfast handles a wide range of products, including dry goods, commercial items, petroleum and oil.

Our role

Although we don't operate the Port of Belfast, we're responsible for making sure the port meets environmental health standards. 

Our duties include: 

  • carrying out inspections on board ships and other vessels to check they comply with food safety and hygiene standards
  • inspecting the port for signs of pests 
  • overseeing the import of food into Belfast 
  • monitoring the port for infectious diseases
  • checking the quality of water provided to and stored on ships
  • issuing ship sanitation and exemption certificates

Ship sanitation certificates

Under the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, all ships and other vessels engaged in an international voyage between countries must hold a valid ship sanitation certificate. 

We issue these certificates as one of our responsibilities under the Public Health (Ships) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008.

Ship sanitation inspection charges

There is a charge for carrying out an inspection and issuing a ship sanitation certificate.

These charges are issued nationally by the Association of Port Health Authorities (APHA). 

They are applied as follows: 

Size of ship Cost of inspection and certificate issue 
Ships with up to 1,000 gross tonnage £85
Ships from 1,001 to 3,000 gross tonnage £120
Ships from 3,001 to 10,000 gross tonnage £180
Ships from 10,001 to 20,000 gross tonnage £235
Ships from 20,001 to 30,000 gross tonnage £305
Ships with more than 30,000 gross tonnage £360

There are some exceptions to these charges:

  • vessels with a capacity of between 50 and 1,000 persons - £360 
  • vessels with a capacity of more than 1,000 persons - £615

Extra charges, based on actual costs, may be added for exceptional costs such as launch hire, out-of-hours duty, travel and extended or re-inspections of ships due to control measures.

Extensions to a ship sanitation certificate will be charged at £55.

If you need a Ship Sanitation Inspection please contact your agent or our Port Health Team directly.

Products not of Animal Origin 

EC Regulation 882/2004 is the main legislation setting out the checks required on food imports. This is implemented into law by The Official Feed and Food Controls (NI) Regulations 2009. 

Specific checks are imposed by: 

  • Commission Regulations (EC) 669/2009 which applies to products that may be an emerging risk
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EC) 884/2014 which applies to food and feed products of known risk of aflatoxin contamination 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EC) 885/2014 which applies to food products of known risk from pesticide residues

Products controlled by these regulations must enter the EU through a designated point of entry (DPE). Belfast is a DPE and the products entering it are checked by our Port Health Team. 

Importers and food business operators must pre-notify us at least one working day before the physical arrival of a consignment by completing Part 1 of the Common Entry Document (CED).

This is available in Annex II of Regulation 669/2009 and guidance on completing the CED can be found in Annex II. Visit for these application forms.

We charge a fee of £47 for carrying out the required documentary check, and there may be additional costs for sampling. 

Plastic Kitchenware: Conditions of Import from China

New controls have been introduced for imports of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware that originated in, or is consigned from China and Hong Kong (CN code ex 3924 10 00).  

For more information on the legislation visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Products which are subject to this regulation, can only enter the United Kingdom through specific ports and airports which have been approved. Belfast is an approved port.

Importers and food business operators must notify Port Health at least two working days before the physical arrival of a consignment by submitting a declaration and an attached laboratory report of analysis for each consignment of plastic kitchenware.

We charge a fee of £47 for carrying out the required documentary check, and there may be additional costs for sampling. 

Products of Animal Original


We charge fees to cover the costs of standard documentary checks – this includes administration, invoicing, documentary checks, facilities and consumables in line with current legislation.

Under Directive 97/78/EC and Regulation 136/2004 we must have a National Monitoring Plan to detect residues, pathogenic organisms or other substances dangerous to health. This involves taking samples from consignments. 

We charge £5 per consignment to cover the costs of all sampling which takes place over the year. This fee is subject to review on a yearly basis depending on the annual FSA risk analysis and throughput.

The fees are applied to consignments from all over the world (except New Zealand). 

Size of ship Cost of inspection and certificate issue
Ships with up to 1,000 gross tonnage £80
Additional tonnage
Between 7 - 46 tonnes
Additional £6.55 per tonne
Over 46 tonnes £305.56 per consignment


In previous years the cost of sampling was met by an internal agreement between DARD / Port Health and the agency AFBI (agency responsible for operating accredited laboratories).  Due to government cutbacks this funding has been withdrawn and DARD / Port Health now have to move to full cost recovery for the laboratory charges for these consignments.  This will now be incorporated into the overall cost of the checks.

If any products are selected for sampling it may take up to 14 days for results to be received.

Please note that a non-compliant consignment fee, decided on a case-by-case basis, will also be charged for those consignments which do not meet import requirements. Fees must be paid before consignments can be released, once checks have been completed.

These charges are subject to review and may change at short notice following guidance or instruction from the Food Standards Agency, the European Union or the Association of Port Health Authorities.  

Contact us
Port health
028 9035 1199
Port Health
5 Corry Place
Belfast Harbour Estate