Government delays introduction of VI-1 forms for wine imports

The UK government has delayed the requirement for the costly VI-1 certification to accompany EU wine sent to Britain in a move that has been welcomed by the WSTA.

Wine importers had previously been planning for a change in legislation, which would have come into force on 1 January at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The government has now said that VI-1 certificates will not be required for EU wine imported into Great Britain from 1 January to 30 June 2021.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has welcomed the move, but said it was still a temporary solution to what could be a major issue for the wine trade.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “We welcome the news that the new requirement on wine importers to provide import certification, or VI-1 forms, for EU wines has been postponed until 1 July 2021. This sensible extension of ‘business as usual’ by the UK government is late-breaking common sense and shows that the WSTA’s arguments and lobbying efforts have at last been heard in Whitehall.”

However he warned that there was still “significant risk” that VI-1 forms could cause “permanent damage to the UK as an international wine trade hub”.

“There is the very real prospect of job losses in businesses already dealing with the impact of Covid-19,” Beale said. “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.

“The decision does not yet provide a sensible, lasting solution, but it offers some breathing space for the importers and traders that we represent.”

The WSTA has said that the imposition of such requirements could cost wine importers £70 million in the first year alone.

VI-1 forms, which require wines to be submitted for lab testing before shipping, are one of several possible changes being made to the import process.

The government has also stated that there will be no change to the marketing standards requirements for importing wine into Northern Ireland from the EU. There will also be no change in requirements for wine imported into the UK from a non-EU country from 1 January 2021 to 1 October 2021.

With regards to wine exports to the EU, the UK will be classed as a ‘third country’ from 1 January. Wine exporters must obtain additional paperwork, including an EU VI-1 form, in order to ship their wine.

Exceptions to VI-1 requirements include wine designed for trade fairs in containers of up to two-litres and shipments of less than 100 litres, where the wine is in separate containers of up to 10-litres.

Stay tuned to the drinks business for further reaction.

Read more:

UK FINE WINE INDUSTRY ‘IN PERIL’ POST BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD

REPORT WARNS VI-1 FORMS WILL CAUSE ‘CHAOS’ FOR INDUSTRY

HOUSE OF LORDS SUPPORTS CALLS TO SCRAP VI-1 WINE FORMS

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