What do full border controls in the UK mean for your business?

After a series of delays, the UK government has finally announced plans to introduce full border controls on imports from the EU. We explain what this means in practice and what companies need to do to prepare.

After the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, it was always assumed that the UK government would (at some point) introduce full border controls on imports from the EU. the world the world However, the process was repeatedly delayed. Although UK exports of goods to the EU will be subject to full EU border controls from 1 January 2021, imports of goods from the EU to the UK will not. The main reason for the delay is the fear that further restrictions could disrupt the supply chain of goods.

What will change?
The government has now published a draft plan to bring import controls in the EU in line with the rest of the world. Security clearances are expected to be required from October 31, 2024; This applies to all types of products. For companies importing food from the EU, the restrictions will be introduced in phases as follows:

October 31, 2023: Health and/or phytosanitary certificates are extended to medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and foodstuffs and high-risk non-animal feed.

January 31, 2024: Documenting and extending risk-based identification and physical checks to similar products (NB: for medium-risk products, physical checks will only be performed in 1-30% of cases compared to a 100% control rate. High-risk products).

Noting the reliability implications of repeated delays, the draft paper insists that it is the government’s “express intention” to meet the October 31, 2023 milestone for new products and that companies should start manufacturing now. Consultation on the draft plan will close on 19 May 2023.

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What does this mean?
Imports from the EU are subject to the same restrictions as imports from the rest of the world. This means an increase in bureaucracy for imports from the EU, although with various simplifications and improvements in border control processes, imports from other parts of the world may benefit from a reduction in bureaucracy.

Practical consequences
For businesses dependent on EU imports, there are two main practical implications to consider:

Decomposition due to introduction of new regulations: While the gradual build-up of regulations is helpful, there may be disruptions as businesses and related organizations adapt to the new rules, particularly around Q4 2023, Q1 2024 and Q4 2024. Even if your business and your suppliers are well prepared, the lorry carrying your goods may be held up through no fault of your own – for example, due to the unpreparedness of others queuing to enter the UK.

Effect on a group of new productsCrewage means that goods you depend on are carried in a “mixed load” with other products (which are often more efficient and cheaper) as the government agreed in its draft plan that changes to new products would mean grouping those goods. This is no longer possible as other items in the load are subject to possible delays in physical inspections etc. This leads to higher costs.

Are your suppliers in the EU ready?
EU suppliers may not be aware of the planned changes and may be given a false sense of security by the UK’s slow pace of introducing border controls on goods post-Brexit. Cargo arriving at the border without proper documentation risks being denied entry, causing delays and additional costs. If you don’t have a direct relationship with your EU suppliers but rely on UK wholesalers, for example, it’s worth asking what those companies’ EU partners are doing to ensure they’re prepared for the changes.

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Source: lexology.com

Ferdinand Woolridge

 "Subtly charming analyst. Beer maven. Future teen idol. Twitter guru. Lifelong bacon fan. Pop culture lover. Passionate social media evangelist."

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