What to expect at UK custom borders in the future

Changes are coming at custom borders for imports to the UK. Our blog covers what we know so far about the new Target Operating Model for imports.

The Government’s 2025 UK Border Strategy sets out to have the world’s most effective border. The vision is to simplify processes for traders as well as create a more secure border. In April 2022, the government postponed the introduction of import checks on EU goods, with a statement that the new Target Operating Model (TOM) is set to be announced this autumn.

Two freight containers, one showing the flag of Europe and the other showing the Union Jack flag
Image by kjpargeter on Freepik

Here is what we know so far:

The single trade window

The concept of the single trade window is that the trader will only have to enter their shipment information once. The technology will then do the necessary to replicate the information and talk to intermediaries as required. This simplified customs procedure will be more efficient by improving speed and accuracy for the trader, as they will not have to keep inputting the same data multiple times on multiple platforms. The data will be submitted in advance of the goods reaching the customs border, this will be assessed, and a decision will be taken on whether a physical check will be required once the goods arrive.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods  

The following details have been given about SPS goods, although it should be noted that the policy is still evolving until the official announcement in the autumn.  

The import process for SPS goods consists of: 

  • pre-notification,  
  • certification,  
  • document checks and,
  • physical checks.  

We understand that commodities will be categorised into low, medium and high risk. This will define the process for the trader. For example, we expect low risk commodities will not need to be signed by a vet. Medium risk goods are likely to have a reduced number of checks and if you are considered a trusted trader, the percentage of checks will be reduced further.  

Ecosystem of trust

Part of the UK Border Strategy is the ecosystem of trust, which is a “trusted trader scheme”. Compliant traders will gain a “trusted” status which will benefit the importers and exporters. To gain ‘trusted’ status,  authorities will make decisions based on how often the trader ships goods, what is being shipped, its true origin and operational compliance. To uphold trusted status, operators may need to have premises inspected or record keeping audited.   

As stated by the government: 

For a compliant and trusted trader, an Ecosystem of Trust could deliver a more frictionless import/export experience and would enable government enforcement agencies to be more focused on those who are deemed to be a higher risk.

Stay updated on the TOM

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Further information

If you have a question, or would like further information, please contact our Regulation team by emailing regulation@seafish.co.uk 

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