New border controls for UK imports from January 2024

New border controls for UK imports from January 2024 - John K Philips
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New border controls for UK imports from January 2024

As we enter a new year in 2024, a series of regulatory changes for UK imports will be taking effect in the coming months – and some in just a few weeks’ time.

While the government delayed border control checks that were due to start in 2023, as we reported last summer, it has since announced a schedule to introduce post-Brexit checks on plant and animal goods coming into the UK from EU countries.

The new system is intended to increase digitisation and reduce bureaucracy, but it will still involve more paperwork and increased trading costs for many importers.

So, if you run a business that imports goods into the UK, you should be prepared to comply with the border controls that will come into force in stages throughout 2024. Here’s a quick summary of what will be changing and how it could affect international trade and customs.

What are the new UK import rules in 2024?

The UK government is implementing the Border Target Operating Model – the full details of which have been published on its website – to improve safety, security, and sanitary controls after Brexit.

The first phase comes into effect in just a few weeks. From 31st January 2024, certain imports must have the required health certifications to be allowed into the UK from the EU.

From 30th April 2024, the second phase starts, which will introduce physical checks and further document checks on animal products, plants, and foods of non-animal origin from the EU. Goods that qualify from non-EU countries will be assessed via a risk-based approach.

The third phase takes effect from 31st October 2024, when safety and security (S&S) declarations for imports from the EU will become mandatory. This will happen alongside the rollout of a single trade window or portal for streamlined pre-arrival datasets – the government should publish more details about this in due course.

The new model categorises plant and animal products as low risk, medium risk, or high risk, with each category having different requirements. The full publication linked above explains which products are categorised at which risk levels, and what this means for the import process at each stage as the new regulations are phased in.

Are UK importers ready for the BTOM?

According to a poll by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) in October 2023, less than 20% of UK businesses understood how the upcoming border control changes would affect them. Only 8% claimed to completely understand the risk categorisations.

Despite this apparent lack of awareness of how exactly the new systems will work, 73% were at least clear about the timelines for the implementation of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) – meaning most UK import businesses should be ready for the end of January.

Just over half also believed that the changes would be beneficial for international trade and their business operations, thanks to planned simplifications and aligned processes.

Of course, the success of your business and smooth compliance with border checks depends on how organised you are – not just in keeping up with regulatory changes and related costs, but also your admin and logistics.

For example, storing your imported goods in a bonded warehouse when they arrive in the UK can give you more time to get your finances in order before having to pay customs duties, as this type of warehouse is effectively a customs suspension zone.

If you make bonded warehousing with an expert provider – like John K. Philips – part of your import process, we can also help with the associated paperwork and distribution when you’re ready to move your goods into the UK market.

Interested in how our bonded storage and integrated logistics solutions could help your import business in 2024 and beyond? Give the John K. Philips team a call on 01744 751 000, or fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you.

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