Parallel imports Q&A

Q: What is a parallel import?
A: In simple terms a parallel import is a product currently being marketed in another country but is identical to an existing UK product.

Q: Is it legal?
A: Yes, provided it has approval from PSD.

Q: How do parallel imports get approved?
A: PSD needs to be satisfied the product is identical to the UK approved products. Until recently that meant it needed to be manufactured by the same manufacturer as in the UK. Now it does not, but identicality still needs to be established. Once approved, the importer then re-labels and / or re-packages the product so it has its own identity so the importer may market the product in the UK. Typically it costs around £1300 and takes about nine weeks to obtain.

Q: What information does the importer need to provide?
A:  The application is fairly simple, according to PSD, and does not require a chemical analysis or the importer to know the formulation, as PSD checks this with the regulatory authority in the country where the product is being imported from.

Q: Can a farmer parallel import products?
A: Yes, the procedure is similar to above, but ‘own-use’ imports may not be sold or supplied to anyone else.

Q: Why are products parallel imported?
A: Usually because the equivalent product is cheaper in another country than in the UK, although according to Syngenta’s Lorna Spicer it is becoming a less viable option as the pricing differential gets narrower. Another reason could be if the product’s availability is tight in the UK.