New import model to be introduced in 2024

20 Dec 2023

The introduction of border checks on food, animals and plant products imported into Great Britain from the EU have been delayed for the fifth time. The UK Government has confirmed that the first stage of the UK’s Border Target Operating Model will now begin in January 2024 instead of October 2023. This is three years after the EU introduced full border controls on UK exports into the EU.  

The model will simplify and improve the process for importing goods into Great Britain. However, it will not apply to goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, which will continue to be subject to the arrangements set out in the Windsor Framework.  

The model sets out safety and security (S&S) controls and sanitary and phytosanitary (S&P) controls. S&S controls will apply to all imports, while S&P controls will apply to imports of live animals, animal products, plants and plant products.  

For S&S controls, the model will minimise trader burden and maintain border security. The controls will make it easier to submit data though the Single Trade Window and remove duplication of data.  

The S&P controls will simplify and digitise health certificates and introduce trusted trader schemes, which allow certain traders to import into Great Britain with fewer checks. The trusted trader schemes are expected to be piloted before the end of 2023. 

The model will be introduced in stages throughout 2024. From 31 January 2024, imports of medium- and high-risk animal products, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin will require health certificates. From 30 April, documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks will be introduced for medium-risk food, animal and plant products. Checks for live animals from the EU are due to start in late 2024. 

From April 2024, imports of low-risk animal products, plants and plant products from non-EU countries will no longer require health certification and routine checks. Physical and identity checks will also be reduced for medium-risk animal products. 

According to the NFU, most UK farm sectors will welcome the introduction of checks as a vital part of levelling up the trade playing field. However, in horticulture, the model will move checks away from business premises to border control posts. This could increase costs and plant handling and biosecurity concerns.  

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