United Kingdom delays checks on EU goods until the end of 2023

Bart Mariën

Senior Director - Customs and Trade Compliance, Europe

When Brexit formally went into effect, The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020. A transition period that was in place - during which nothing changed - ended on December 31, 2020. As of January 1, 2021, the rules governing the new relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom took effect.

The European Union immediately introduced customs checks on goods arriving into the customs territory from the United Kingdom, while the United Kingdom opted for a phased approach to introduce border controls.

On January 1, 2022, the below changes went into effect:

  • Full import customers declarations needed for all goods brought into the United Kingdom;
  • Customs controls at all ports and other border locations;
  • Proof of origin on hand when claiming zero tariffs based on the EU-UK Trade Deal and Cooperation Agreement

In principle, the next wave of controls would be introduced in July 2022. Due to the increasing energy costs and the situation and effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the decision was made to delay this wave of controls until the end of 2023.

This decision is most likely also driven by the fact that imports from the European Union to the United Kingdom fell by 25% compared with imports from the rest of the world.* By delaying the introduction of these control measures until the end of 2023, importers in the United Kingdom can save costs and it can encourage European exporters to increase their business with the United Kingdom.

The following controls are delayed from July 2022 until the end of 2023:

  • A requirement for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks currently at destination to be moved to a Border Control Post (BCP)
  • A requirement for safety and security declarations on EU imports
  • A requirement for health certifications for further SPS imports
  • A requirement for SPS goods to be presented at a BCP
  • Prohibitions and restrictions on the import of chilled meat from the EU**

The delay will give the UK government the necessary time to evaluate how these processes can be implemented in an improved manner and how it can fit within the new Target Operating Model to have a new seamless digital border. This digital border should lead to a smoother flow of the legitimate trade based on risk analysis and data made available by the different stakeholders.

The decision to delay the controls will have no impact on exporters from the European Union, nor on importers into the United Kingdom. The current processes remain applicable until the implementation at the end of 2023. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly. 

*The Centre for Economic Performance, **The UK Government