why are there new border controls?

The food and drink industry are bracing themselves for new brexit border checks on fresh food from the EU such as meat and dairy at the end of this January 2024. This is part of a phased system where the import of animals (and products thereof), food and plants are placed into risk categories of low, medium and high.

Although many thought Brexit was done in January 2021, it wasn’t. This new border control measure has been in the wings waiting for a long time, and for UK industry is the most dreaded one.

Before Brexit the standard of free-flowing goods was assured due to the regulatory framework of the single market. Now we are diverged from what some argue are higher standards in the EU, and with our third country status with the EU, full border controls were inevitable.

The implementation date has been pushed back by government multiple times over concerns of cost and disruption. Now however the government is keeping steadfast with their timing to introduce new border control measures on 31st January 2024. The new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) introduces additional requirements for importers including vet-signed health certificates for meat and dairy products which in a time when there is already a lack of veterinary capacity could prove dicey.

what impact can businesses expect?

Although the UK government is hailing the checks as part of a ‘world -class border system’, this could become problematic as Britain imports up to 70% of its fresh food from the EU in the winter months on as many as 1000 trucks daily.

The additional costs will be found in extra documentation, staffing and further border delays. This will lead some EU exporters to reconsider the UK as a viable market, and UK importers no doubt with regular headaches on their hands.

All this feeds into an economy already under pressure as the expectations are that the consumer will be presented with less choice and higher prices. Although this may not be immediately apparent it will be a consequence of this final Brexit dividend, drawn out over the course of this year.

when are the changes happening?

When:   31st January 2024

Who:     EU exporters shipping to UK  ‘medium risk’ plant and animal products (including milk, dairy products that contain raw milk, meat and meat products).

What:    Required now to provide officiated health certificates

When:   30th April 2024

Who:     EU exporters shipping to UK  ‘medium risk’ plant and animal products (including milk, dairy products that contain raw milk, meat and meat products).

What:    Required to provide officiated health certificates and experience physical border checks

When:   31st October 2024

Who:     UK importers from EU

What:    A requirement for Safety & Security (S&S) declarations becomes mandatory.

what does this mean for my business?

Since Brexit, sourcing products has become more difficult and this has led to supply issues as well as increased pricing. Many EU exporters simply stopped their business with the UK making consumers choices more limited.

With these new changes being implemented goods can expect random sample documentary checks. Even low risk goods may need import licences and to provide pre-import authorisations to UK authorities. This all add up to make it even more difficult to fulfil customers demands.

If importers have already been proactive and have been working closely with their supply chain partners there is a chance the impact will be lower, but certainly not nil. Working with a logistics company knowledgeable in fresh food will be key in advising best protocols and dealing with issues quickly.

what can i do to limit the risk to my goods?

Here are our top tips for getting ahead of the new Brexit Border Controls.

  1. Communicate between buyer and seller to identify risks ratings and ensure that all certification and documentation is in place.
  2. Speak to your customs agent that they have good knowledge of the forthcoming changes and have plans in place for inspections and/or paperwork discrepancies.
  3. Talk to your carrier that they are informed of these changes and advise them of any key requirements or risks.
  4. Have contingencies in place if your goods are part of a groupage consignment. Find out if there is a danger of hold ups and consider alternative arrangements* to minimise risk.
  5. Check your contracts with customers for delay clauses and whether inspections costs can be passed on.
what’s next?

Our next article will focus on the 30th April when we will see phase 2, the physical checks, be implemented. Many UK growers of soft plants such as raspberries and strawberries start life in the EU. Young plants are considered high-risk and would be 100% subject to checks, risking damaging or destroying these delicate products. There’s also the UK’s structural problems with BCP’s (Border Control Posts) operational capacity seemingly in disarray.

It’s all going on – if the government stay fixed this time with the dates.

We’ll know more very soon and if you need any advice* do not hesitate to contact us here

The Jordon Team