what’s occurring?

Today, the 30th April 2024, we see the implementation of the second and most feared phase of the UK’s much delayed border checks. Physical checks on products of animal and plant origin. Importers are struggling to come to terms with the reality that after five delays, these checks have finally arrived. However, port facility operators which will carry out these checks and should be bringing in the revenue, are also facing a huge headache. As 30% of food consumed in the UK comes from the EU, let’s find out what’s going on.

border control posts (BCP)

Physical checks on EU animal and plant imports will be completed at specially designated border control posts (BCP).  Not only are importers sweating on the extra costs and delays, the operators of these facilities are also under stress. Having invested millions of pounds into setting up these high spec facilities, they’re left with no idea how to recoup the costs of running them due to a lack of crucial details from Government.

From today, selected importers will have to submit animal and plant products posing a ‘medium’ risk to identity and physical checks at designated border control posts. Determining what is low, medium or high risk is in itself a complicated process.

The UK government has said they will approach these checks pragmatically and with a ‘light touch’ to begin with.  Whilst this does not give any concrete understanding of what this means, a light touch sounds like words to be feared for operators of these facilities that need them to be used, and used a lot.

Last month it was reported the BCP in Portsmouth could be demolished as repeated changes to the Border Operating Model has left the £24m site commercially unviable. From an expected 80 truck loads of produce a day, the port now expects only four or five. With an annual running cost of £800,000 a year fees to importers simply will not cover its costs.

An additional issue reported from port facility operators last week is that they still do not have access to the governments IT system. This is essential for invoicing importers and users, and therefore trying to recover costs. Defra stated that a technical fix would be made available but might not be ready for a few months. Whether retrospective charging is possible no-one currently knows risking the loss of crucial revenue for operators.

https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-brexit-border-target-operating-mode/

TRUCKING GOODS

Having an extra stop at a BCP in a time critical journey will create logistical headaches for transport operators who, for example, are faced with a 20mile journey to Sevington from the Port of Dover.  Together with an unknown delay period whilst these checks take place you can see how transporters will become hesitant to carry such products. Those that do will need to be amply rewarded causing financial pressures on supply chains.

For less-than-trailers loads (LTL) consignments this can bring in even more challenges with the whole truck’s cargo being directed to these BCP’s just for the sake of one consignment of many. Those shipping smaller consignments will find asking carriers to move products in medium risk categories very challenging.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/what-are-new-post-brexit-border-controls-starting-april-30-2024-04-22/

Physical Checks

Port Operators may be dreading the financial implications, but it’s nothing compared to what importers will experience.  Importers and UK businesses are bracing themselves for huge increases to the cost and transit time of their shipments, as well as a now complex weave of paperwork and preparation. These new rules will apply to meat, fish and dairy, as well as fruit and vegetables, things which we take for granted on our shelves in the UK.

A common user charge has been brought in by the government for plant and animal products entering Dover and Eurotunnel much to the dismay of the industry.

https://www.chamber-international.com/news/latest-news/port-of-dover-and-eurotunnel-common-user-charge-rates-and-eligibility/

The costs can be as much as £145 for every single consignment. Supermarkets may be able to weather these costs but for small delicatessens this will have a huge impact.

https://theloadstar.com/uk-government-defends-crippling-fee-for-plant-and-animal-product-imports/

The importer now has to decide whether these extra costs and delays levies on their products are commercially viable.  As happened with UK exporters during Brexit year one, many will think not, lessening the choice for the UK consumer. For those that can manage these challenges, they will have no choice but to pass on these costs to the UK consumer.  At that point, with the cost of living already sky high, can the UK consumer cope with even higher prices with less choice and even shorter shelf life?

Final words

As border checks tightens for fresh produce it will be interesting to see the real-world effects in the coming months. Budgeting and forecasting will be key for importers. The total costs for shipping as well as knowing where your goods fall in the risk categories is essential. It is a complex area but with the right freight forwarder it can easier and cheaper.

We are working closely with many food importers, some who thought their products were in the medium risk category. Upon consultation with our customs team, they were relieved to find out they were in fact in the low risk category, thereby avoiding checks. Our transport department works out the most efficient and supported route for your goods.

We are here to reduce the complexities for importers in determining the overall costs in time and money to their supply chain. As experts in customs and European road freight for 25 years we are leading the way in providing businesses with solutions to Brexits obstacles.

For customs and transportation advice concerning these new checks, IPAFFS, etc please contact us here https://www.jordonfreight.com/our-services/customs-brokerage/

or contact myself Steve Townley, Head of Customs, directly steve.townley@jordonfreight.com  Tel. +0044 (0)1394 286644