Date: 30.08.2023

Food border checks delayed for 5th time

The UK was set to roll out new health certification requirements for medium and high-risk goods originating in the EU, such as meat and dairy, from October, but there is now official confirmation from No 10 that last week’s Financial Times report was correct and the government is postponing border controls until January 2024.

Plans to roll out controls on all goods entering Britain post-Brexit were initially meant to begin at the start of 2021, around the same time the EU introduced strict requirements on all UK food exports.

However, import controls have since been delayed four times over the past two years, with the October 2023 deadline’s move to January the fifth to be delayed. 

“Having listened to the views of industry, the government has agreed to a delay of three months for the introduction of remaining sanitary and phytosanitary controls” it said in a statement.

New physical checks on imports, due to come into effect in January, will now start in April.

According to a survey of EU suppliers by the Cold Chain Federation (CCF), the delay could avoid disruption during the Christmas trading window, with 39% of European food producing businesses supplying goods to the UK unaware of the new rules.

However, the National Farmers Union has campaigned vociferously against further postponement to checks, arguing that it is unfair to British producers, as it continues to give EU farmers a competitive advantage, while UK exporters have had to endure checks on food exports to the bloc for the past two years.

Under the new post-Brexit import rules, due to come into force from 31st October and now pushed back a further three months, export health certificates signed by a qualified certifying officer would become mandatory for every consignment of ‘medium risk’ meat, dairy and fish products exported from the EU to the UK.

The CCF had written to ministers, sharing their survey’s findings, requesting that the October implementation be moved back to the 31st January 2024, because they believe that the government needs to deliver a much wider and better resourced communications campaign, to increase awareness among EU businesses.

The CCF said that with so much stress, cost inflation and other pressures in the food supply chain this year, moving the start date to January 2024 could make a big difference.

Their survey also found that 78% of EU businesses believed costs will increase to their UK customers as a result of the new rules, and while 60% said they planned to continue servicing UK customers at the same frequency after the new rules implementation, 10% had planned to reduce the frequency and 7% planned to stop altogether.

With the current regulations for imports of foodstuffs remaining unchanged, there is a further three months to prepare your suppliers for the changeover and keep your supply chains running freely. 

We can guide you on the new import procedures and help you to educate your suppliers, with full support for all your import and export documentary needs.

Metro are at the forefront of customs brokerage solutions for the food and drink industry, with our automated CuDoS declaration platform and dedicated team of customs experts, reacting swiftly to any changes in the UK’s trading regimes.

To learn how we can simplify and automate customs declarations for your businesses, please EMAIL Andy Fitchett, Brokerage Manager, to review the options.