UK publishes plans for post-Brexit border checks | Fieldfisher
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UK publishes plans for post-Brexit border checks


United Kingdom

The UK Government has published a new post-Brexit draft Border Target Operating Model (“BTOM”)[i] which will impact all businesses moving goods into the UK.  The BTOM is now open for a six-week consultation period.

The introduction of these border controls has been successively postponed since the UK left the EU single market and customs union at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, when the EU introduced full border controls on all imports from Great Britain. The government has sought to develop ways to minimise the delays and administrative burden that such controls would cause. The draft proposals aim to strike a balance between guaranteeing the security of goods entering the UK and ensuring that trade flows freely.

The draft BTOM proposes three milestones for the introduction of controls on imports into Great Britain (“GB”):

  • 31 October 2023: the introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU;
  • 31 January 2024: the introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. Imports of Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will also benefit from the new risk based model. The border controls will be weighted against the risks posed both by the commodity and the country of origin. Inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will be conducted at Border Control Posts;
  • 31 October 2024: Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force together with a reduced dataset, down from the current 37 to 24 mandatory fields. The remaining 13 fields will be optional. Safety and Security requirements will be removed for certain outbound freeport goods, outbound transit and fish from UK waters landed in non-UK ports.

Checks will be introduced on Irish goods moving from Ireland directly to Great Britain, while Northern Irish goods will retain unfettered access to Great Britain, whether moving goods directly, or indirectly through Irish ports, under the arrangements set out in the recently agreed Windsor Framework. None of the additional controls set out in the draft BTOM will apply to imports into Northern Ireland from the EU, providing Northern Ireland traders with full access to the EU market.

Key features of the draft BTOM include:

  • to reduce the need for physical checks for many types of goods;
  • to conduct checks away from ports, to avoid disruption to traffic;
  • to rank goods (high, medium and low) according to their level of risk to human, animal or plant health;
  • to use technology to streamline import trade processes. The Single Trade Window, to be fully operational by 2027, will enable traders to submit information only once and in one place. It will make it easier to submit Safety and Security data and remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets, for example by allowing the use of Transit Security Accompanying Documents in place of separate Safety and Security and Transit declarations;
  • to introduce simplified export health certificates in Spring 2023 for animal products, and digitised export health certificates in 2024, leading to more automated use of data;
  • to pilot trusted trader assurance schemes where authorised importers of plants, plant products and some animal products may be eligible for streamlined controls. To qualify they will need to provide enhanced assurances and evidence that they are meeting the regulatory requirements and standards. They will be allowed simplified processes and avoid full customs inspections.

A six week engagement period will now take place, with the final Target Operating Model to be published later this year. But the government has made clear that it firmly intends to proceed with the first milestone on 31 October 2023, the introduction of health certification on medium risk animal products, such as meat, dairy, fish and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin imported from the EU, and phytosanitary certificates for phytosanitary goods imported from the EU. Businesses should therefore work with their supply chains to prepare for this change now.


Fieldfisher's London International Trade Team can help you understand the impact of these changes on your business and help to manage your supply chains and online services.

For more information please contact Andrew Hood (Partner, International Trade): +44(0)330 460 6568

* The contents of this notice do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

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