Brexit: the UK’s new import border controls from the EU

12 Dec 23

Almost four years since Britain officially left the European Union, supply chains continue to grapple with the aftershocks of Brexit. The UK Government continues to refine its legislation regarding border regulations, and has recently introduced a comprehensive timeline of its plans to control the importation of animals, plants and FMCG goods from the EU.

In this week’s blog, we delve into the implications of these tightened restrictions and provide insights on how logistics operations can prepare for the upcoming changes.

Current regulations

EU imports are currently subject to less red tape when compared to arrivals from the rest of the world. Safety and security declarations are not required, and stricter controls typically apply only to agri-food imports. Consequently, documentation and imports from the EU are generally easier to complete.

However, in 2024, this will change significantly, as the government plans to gradually introduce new border controls. In August, the finalised rollout plan for the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) for EU imports was unveiled and its impact on businesses will be significant.

Border Target Operating Model (BTOM)

BTOM encompasses more stringent rules, regulations and procedures to facilitate the smooth passage of goods between the UK and the EU. The complete implementation of safety and security declarations for all goods under BTOM is set for October 31, 2024. The changes will be phased in as follows:

January 31, 2024: Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certificates will be extended to medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin. These requirements are required by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). Categories such as ‘low,’ ‘medium,’ and ‘high’ will determine the level of documentation and regulatory checks required.

April 30, 2024: Documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks will be introduced on medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.

October 31, 2024: Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force. Simultaneously, a reduced dataset for imports and the use of the UK Single Trade Window will be introduced to streamline processes and reduce duplication across different pre-arrival datasets. This includes Safety and Security, Sanitary and Phytosanitary and pre-lodged customs declarations.

For more information, read the full government documentation.


The post-Brexit landscape remains dynamic, with regular amendments and changes. Staying informed and fully prepared is critical; hence why it’s important that businesses closely monitor news and government outlets to stay updated on the latest changes. This ensures that operations are fully informed about the requirements going forward.

TrackTrans’ Transport Management System (TMS) serves as an indispensable resource, tracking goods from order to delivery with real-time updates. Our TMS can integrate with other systems designed to handle documentation – ensuring comprehensive data management, minimising delays, avoiding penalties and ultimately – making operators’ lives easier.

Try TrackTrans’ free demo today and keep your operation under control in an uncertain environment.

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