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UK’s Border Target Operating Model published


Published: 05 Sep 2023 Update History

The government has set out how controls applicable at the border will be simplified and digitised.

The UK government has developed and now published a new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM). The aim of the BTOM is to simplify and improve the process for importing goods into Great Britain. 

The BTOM sets out the government’s approach to safety and security (S&S) controls and sanitary and phytosanitary (S&P) controls. S&S controls apply to all imports while S&P controls apply to imports of live animals, animal products, plants and plant products. 

For S&S controls, the model tries to minimise trader burdens and maintain border security while remaining aligned with international standards. It does so by: 

  • Reducing the number of mandatory data fields from 37 to between 20 and 28, depending on circumstances;
  • Making it easier to submit data through the proposed Single Trade Window;
  • Improving the use of data by government to remove duplication; and
  • Removing requirements for certain types of movement. 

For S&P controls, the model focuses on three aspects: 

  • A new global risk-based approach;
  • Simplified and digitised health certificates; and 

An ‘Ecosystem of Trust’ to allow authorised importers to use facilitations to make importing easier. 

Timeline for implementation 

31 January 2024 – the introduction of health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food, and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. The removal of pre-notification requirements for low-risk plant and plant products from the EU. 

30 April 2024 - the introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food, and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. Existing inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to Border Control Posts.  

Imports from non-EU countries will also be simplified by the removal of health certification and routine checks on low-risk animal products, plants, plant products from non-EU countries, as well as reduction in physical and identity check levels on medium-risk animal products from non-EU countries. 

31 October 2024 - the requirement for S&S declarations for imports into Great Britain from the EU or from other territories where the waiver applies will come into force from 31 October 2024. Alongside this, a reduced dataset for imports will be introduced. Use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication, where possible, across different pre-arrival datasets. 

Importers should already be preparing for the first milestone and should be starting to prepare for the second and third milestones. Further detail will be published in due course. 

Northern Ireland 

Goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland will be subject to the arrangements set out in the Windsor Framework. There is separate guidance on this. 

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