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UK Brexit Agri-foods customs controls delayed to ‘late 2023’

CONFIRMED: Much postponed Agri-foods pre-notification and documentation border controls delayed for 4th time from 1 July 2022 to ‘late 2023’.

The cost of living crisis, Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing border delays  mean the latest round of post-Brexit customs checks has been delayed from 1 July 2022 into late 2023 the UK government has confirmed today, 28 April 2022. The controls on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods (like cheese and meat against diseases such as swine fever) were originally scheduled for 1 January 2021 when the UK left the EU Customs Union following its exit from the EU after 31 January 2020.

Digital customs border by end of 2023

The UK said it would review how best to introduce the necessary SPS controls via risk assessments and using data and technology to smooth the process. This could result in the first digital or virtual border control regime in the world. The new plan will be published by the end of 2022 before coming into effect at the end of 2023.

Next round of phased Brexit border controls

Following the end of the UK’s Brexit transition period from 1 January 2021, there has been a phasing in on the UK-side of import and export controls to ease the changes from the UK leaving the EU Customs Regime. This imposed customs controls and potential tariffs on goods movements between the UK and EU for the first time.

The phased introduction of safety and security controls had already been delayed from 1 April to 1 October, starting with additional agri-food products will require pre-notification and documentation. This was then shifted to July 2022 due to delivery chain problems. The major Brexit customs declarations and tariff rule change still came on 1 January 2022  with the imposition of full import controls and declarations. This includes the ending of the deferred import declaration easement.

Full UK customs checks and declarations came into force on 1 January 2022.

WTO rules broken by UK?

This means EU imports continue to enjoy preferential treatment from the UK. Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, this is lawful until another WTO member – an upset non-EU state – files and wins a compliant. This can typically take five or more years, so unlikely to happen given the short term nature of this arrangement.

New customs declarations and border checks deadlines

Under the UK’s Border Operating Model, which sets the rules for customs procedures following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, importers of goods into the UK could defer their import declarations until 1 January 2022.

The latest revised timeframes, changing phases 2 and 3 of the Border Operating Model, announced this week are as follows:

Customs procedures Previous date Revised date
Prenotification on goods of animal origin and other high-risk foods 1 April 2021 Late 2023
Ending of deferred import customs declarations 1 July 2021 1 January 2022
Safety and Security Declarations 1 July 2021 1 January 2022
Sanitary and Phytosanitary border checks and pre-notifications on a range of animal and non-animal produce 1 July 2021 Late 2023
Border checks live animals and low risk plants and plant products. 1 July 2021 Late 2023


Controlled goods are excepted from the above timetable. Full customs declarations are required, and full checks apply today.


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