Date: 16.05.2024

Importers concerned at cost of Brexit trade checks

Delayed five times by the UK government, post-Brexit physical border checks of animal products, plants and plant products through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel were finally implemented on the 30th April 2024. However, importers of affected products express concern about additional costs.

The common user charge (CUC) was also introduced on the 30th April for commercial movements of animal products, plants and plant products through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.

It covers imports, goods in transit and goods eligible for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks at a government-run border control post.

The CUC applies to small imports of products such as plants, seeds, fish, salami, sausage, cheese and yoghurt. The flat-rate of £10 or £29 per commodity has been capped at £145, “specifically to help smaller businesses”, Defra said.

Health certificates were introduced in January on EU goods ranging from cut flowers, to fresh produce including meat, fruit and vegetables, but physical checks for the goods came into force two weeks ago.

Physical checks will be based on the “risk” category that goods fall into, so high-risk goods, such as live animals, will be subject to identity and physical checks at the border.

Products that present a medium risk to biosecurity will also be checked, while low-risk goods, such as canned meat will not require any checks.

But businesses, especially smaller companies, have raised concerns that the new checks from the EU could disrupt their supply chains and despite the £145 cap will increase their costs, with one importer interviewed by the BBC, suggesting “the checks would cost his business between £200,000 and £225,000 per year.”

Controls for SPS goods from the rest of the world are long-established and traders are aware of the responsibilities and inherent risk of goods moved from the rest of the world, but the extensions to goods moving from the EU is catching them out.

An additional CUC cost of £29 for a single commodity is minimal, but if you have four trailers carrying five or more commodities arriving every day then you easily add £200,000 plus to your supply chain.

There have been some easements with Customs, which allow fewer inspections and there are processes which can reduce costs, but preparation is key and the correct documentation is critical in ensuring a smoother frontier transition.

Metro are at the forefront of customs brokerage solutions, with our automated CuDoS declaration platform.

We can automate your CHED import notification, on the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) and simplify customs compliance, to safeguard your supply chain and cut costs.

To learn more about CUC or CuDoS, or how we can simplify and automate customs declarations for your business, please EMAIL Andy Fitchett, Brokerage Manager.