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VI-1 import certification postponed for six months

Published:  28 October, 2020

The government has announced a temporary suspension of wine import certification.

It said that VI-1 certificates will not be required for EU wine imported into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021. 

The six month suspension follows relentless lobbying by the WSTA for the paperwork to be scrapped, with the trade body having estimated that requiring these forms could cost wine importers £70m in the first 12 months alone.

A recent report from a committee of MPs into the impact of VI-1 wine import certificates also warned that the red tape would “cause chaos and price hikes”.

The “sensible extension of ‘business as usual’ by the UK government” was “late-breaking common sense” and showed that the WSTA’s arguments and lobbying efforts had at last been heard in Whitehall, said CEO Miles Beale.

“We have campaigned since the Brexit vote for the government to understand the damaging implications of imposing import certification requirements on wines imported from the EU – including burdensome paperwork, laboratory tests and significant additional cost for businesses,” he said.

There was however still a “significant risk” that VI-1 forms could cause permanent damage to the UK as an international wine trading hub and a very real prospect of job losses in businesses already dealing with the impact of Covid-19, he added. 

“Over half the wine some 33 million UK wine drinkers enjoy comes from the EU, and ultimately, the imposition of more, pointless VI-1 forms would mean reduced consumer choice and increased costs for the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink,” said Beale.

While Beale said the decision did not yet provide a “sensible, lasting solution it did offer some “breathing space for the importers and traders that we represent”. 

“The granting of a grace period makes clear that government now recognises the damaging impact that these forms would have on British businesses.”

Beale also took the opportunity to call on the government to use the additional time the grace period provides to commit to abolishing the requirement for VI-1 forms entirely. 

“This is the only way to meet the government’s stated aim of a level playing field for all wine imports, no matter their origin,” he said.