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Brexit import checks suspended for six months to avoid border issues

Date: March 12, 2021

Category: Industry news

Checks slated to begin in April and July postponed because border posts are not ready

Brexit import checks suspended for six months

The UK Government has announced that import checks set to begin in April will be deferred for six months, with other measures delayed until 2022 as the necessary border infrastructure will not be complete on time.

The news has been welcomed by trade associations and retailers that had warned of severe supply-chain disruption and empty shelves if the new customs regime had come into force as planned.

The UK has been trading under new export rules since January. Confusion over detail and the new bureaucratic burden on companies has been partly blamed for a 38 per cent drop in British export numbers compared with this time last year.

UK customs agents were set to introduce sanitary and phytosanitary controls on live animals, animal, plant and some meat products from 1 April. Without the correct paperwork and health certifications, these importers faced the prospect of goods being turned away at the border.

This is good news for British industry and those who have been concerned about the upcoming changes to import and export checks.

“It is important that businesses now use this additional time to work together with their suppliers in Europe to prepare for these changes in the last quarter of this year and into 2022.”

Chris Tyas, chair of GS1 UK and the acting director of food supply for Defra’s Food Resilience Industry Forum

From 1 July, physical inspections were set to take place on all goods entering the UK at 30 dedicated border-control posts, many of which remain unconstructed.

In a statement to Parliament, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove stated that the UK’s border-check policy would be working to a revised timetable to avoid disruption, and that most customs processes would be pushed back to 2022.