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Border Chaos: New Import Customs Rules


The UK border is in chaos. The implementation of the second stage of the post-Brexit Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) caused huge disruption.



 

Stage 1, which came online in January, required imports designated as medium- or high-risk to be accompanied by export health certificates.

 

Stage 2, which came into effect, in May requires imports to undergo physical checks at the border. This is the source of the mass disruption seen at Dover and Hull, where IT systems failed under the strain. A system error seemed to be preventing clearances, causing huge backlogs as shipments failed to be released.


Stage 2, which came into effect in May, requires imports to undergo physical checks at the border.

 

These IT issues did not appear to be limited to one location and were occurring across the country, with government agents having to clear shipments manually. Time-critical shipments of perishable goods were being held for hours.

 

Across the industry, shippers were already worried about the implementation of the Border and Transit Office Model (BTOM). The introduction of common user charges for plant and animal products entering the UK through Dover and Eurotunnel brought cause for concern. These charges were recently announced in early April, with a flat rate of either £10 or £29 per commodity. The charges are capped at £145 per consignment.

 

“The charges threaten to cripple SMEs in the fresh produce and plant sectors”  Nigel Jenny, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC)

 

Retailers have been collaborating closely with their suppliers to get ready for the introduction of physical checks on food imports. In spite of this, it's difficult to predict the full impact of these changes, as we have seen in the recent border chaos.

 

There are still a lot of unknown factors, such as the level of preparedness of EU suppliers, and how the checks and potential delays could affect the supply of food. We can only wait and see how this plays out.

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