New UK import rules 2024: A complete guide

New UK import rules 2024: A complete guide

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New rules for importing goods from Europe to the UK come into effect in January 2024. 

Despite officially leaving the EU’s single market in January 2021, the UK has delayed introducing full border controls several times due to concerns over cost and disruption. However, we now know that these post-Brexit checks on plant and animal goods coming into the UK from EU countries will begin at the end of January 2024.

So, What does this mean for businesses that import goods into the UK? Our latest article provides a summary of the changes coming into effect and how you can prepare for these stricter border controls.

What are the new UK import rules?

The UK government has set out its new Border Target Operating Model in a bid to control imports of animals, plants and all products derived from them.

Lord Benyon, minister for biosecurity at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said, “Protecting UK biosecurity through effective border controls on the goods that we import is so important. These border controls safeguard the food that we eat, and protect animal and plant health across the UK.” Source.

The new import rules will be rolled out throughout 2024 in three phases:

Phase one

Food and drink from the EU is categorised into high, medium and low risk categories under the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).  

From 31st January 2024, European businesses exporting ‘medium risk’ plant and animal products to the UK will have to submit extra paperwork known as health certificates.

Phase two

From 30th April 2024, physical checks to medium risk products will be introduced. Existing inspections of high risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to Border Control Posts.

Phase three

From 31st October 2024, safety and security (S&S) declarations for imports from the EU will become mandatory.

What does this mean for businesses? 

Businesses that import food products, live animals, animal products, plants or plant products into the UK will need to prepare for the upcoming changes.

The first step is to identify the BTOM risk category for the animals and animal products you plan on importing. You can do this by referring to the Import Risk Categories document which provides a summary of how different types of animals and animal products are categorised. 

Risk Categories and Import Procedures

Let’s explore the specific requirements for each category:

Low BTOM risk category

To import low-risk goods into the UK, you will need to notify the authorities through the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) prior to the arrival of the goods. No health certificate is required for the low-risk category, however consignments falling under this category must be accompanied by a commercial document from the supplier.

Medium BTOM risk category

Similar to low-risk goods, the importation process for the medium-risk category also involves notifying authorities via IPAFFS before the goods arrive in the UK. From January 31st 2024, a health certificate issued by a competent authority in the country of origin is mandatory for medium-risk goods. From 30th April 2024, these products may also be subjected to physical checks.

High BTOM risk category

In the case of products in the high-risk category, similar procedures apply. It is mandatory to notify the authorities using IPAFFS before the goods arrive in the UK and a health certificate is also required. High-risk category consignments already undergo physical import checks, which will continue unchanged.

How well your business performs and how easily it meets border check requirements rely on your level of organisation. This involves not only staying updated on regulatory changes and associated costs but also managing your admin tasks and logistics efficiently.

For example, digitising your paperwork and getting the required forms signed electronically is one step you can take to get organised and make the transition easier. Instead of wasting time emailing individual documents to the authorities, Signable can help to streamline this process and automate the document sending process for you.

Enhance compliance with Signable

Prepare for the new UK import rules by taking a proactive step towards better organisation and embracing digital solutions. Digitise your paperwork and utilise electronic signatures to simplify these additional administrative tasks and logistics. Sign up for a free trial today and make the transition smoother and more efficient with Signable.