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Post-Brexit food checks finally launch

Having previously postponed implementation of post-Brexit food border controls five times due to worries about price inflation and port disruption and the cost-of-living crisis, EU exporters of animal and plant products will be required to present Export Health Certificates from today.

The introduction of the new border controls means that EU exporters face border bureaucracy for the first time since Britain left the single market in January 2021. 

By contrast, the EU immediately enforced border controls, leading to congestion and port delays, with British exporters initially struggling with the new regime, leading some to temporarily suspend exports to the bloc.

The UK’s new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is being introduced in three phases, starting today.

In this first stage EU exporters of animal and plant products, like eggs, dairy, meat and berries, will be required to present Export Health Certificates (EHCs) to British authorities, with physical checks due to start at the end of April 30 and safety and security certificates from the 31st October.

Several trade associations and the British Chambers of Commerce have warned of congestion and delays when the physical checks start and while as many as 1,000 trucks of fresh food may move through the short-strait ports during the peak winter period, this figure will be more than halved in April.

There is concern is that lack a of veterinary capacity in the EU might slow EHC health certification and there a risk that the UK’s new border infrastructure, processes and IT systems may not be ready for April.

The government has said all infrastructure and systems were ready or on track for April and while politicians might prefer to adopt a light touch to avoid delays and shortages, with a general election pending, importers need to be ready for checks.

The manufacturers trade body, Make UK, said in December that 90% of firms still faced problems doing business with the EU with customs and clearance the biggest barrier.

PSP Worldwide Logistics provide customs brokerage solutions, guidance and support in line with the regimes in force on both sides of the Channel.

To discuss your situation and to learn how we simplify EU/UK customs compliance, please EMAIL operators director, Michelle Redman.