Once upon a time, importing caviar from the EU was dead easy, provided that you had good suppliers. I could email our suppliers what I needed and it would arrive a couple of days later, or even the next day. Imports from outside the EU were rather harder, but we seldom bothered as there are Agents within the EU who did all the hard work.

This happy situation dramatically changed on 1st January. The first problem was that nobody really knew what we were meant to do regarding imports. that might be Ok if you are importing non-perishable goods, but not ideal when importing caviar. As a result, many carriers refused to take perishables. the “How to Import” book was not published until mid February.

The next problem was the CITES requirements. As wild sturgeon are endangered, farmed sturgeon, and their eggs, come under the same regulations as ivory and Rhino horn. The first step is that our suppliers apply for an export permit, which they can get in 1-2 weeks. Then we make a mirror application for an import permit. The UK authorities endeavour to process an application “..within one month”!!!!!

The nest step is to assemble all the required paperwork, find a carrier willing to take it and then navigate through Customs. So the whole complicated and expensive process now takes 2 months instead of 2 days.

We thought that we had stockpiled enough to get us through this period, but no. Due to tremendous demand in the early part of the year, and the lengthy import process, we were Caspian Nocaviar for a very frustrating period. But we now have stock of most of our varieties and we know what is required so have established a rolling process of paperwork to ensure that normal service is the order of the day.

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