Exports and international markets

UK border updates

UK border updates

Changes in how businesses export and import through the UK border are coming into force. Get the latest updates on the UK border strategy and trading with Northern Ireland.

UK border strategy

The UK government's ambition is to have the world's most effective border which simplifies export and import processes, creates prosperity, and enhances security for the UK. The 2025 UK Border Strategy sets out this vision.

A Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) has been published as a draft on GOV.UK. This sets out a new approach to importing into Great Britain that'll be progressively introduced from the end of October 2023. The BTOM will implement the proposed changes through six transformations that include the Single Trade Window, Electronic Travel Authorisation, a review of the agencies and border checks and a new design authority to underpin the programmes.

For businesses trading with the EU that move goods from, to or through Great Britain, the current Border Operating Model will continue to be valid until the BTOM is validated and implemented.

Learn about the current Border Operating Model on GOV.UK.

Trade with Northern Ireland

Since the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect on 1 January 2021, there have been changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK government has published guidance on how to prepare if you trade and move goods in and out of Northern Ireland.

In March 2023, the UK and the EU formally adopted the Windsor Framework, which replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol. Once the new agreement comes into force, key benefits to traders will include:

  • Traders will have access to a new comprehensive tariff reimbursement scheme
  • The UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) will be replaced by the UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS)
  • UKIMS authorised traders will be able to move goods through a green lane, where supplementary declarations post movement will no longer be required
  • Bans on British products moving to Northern Ireland, such as chilled meats, will be removed
  • Expansion of the new NI Retail Movement Scheme will remove the requirement for health certificates and provide simplified processes
  • The MHRA, the UK regulator, will regulate all medicines made available in Northern Ireland
  • Individuals will be able to send parcels to Northern Ireland without any additional requirements

As negotiations are still ongoing, the NI Retail Movement Scheme is set to come into force in Autumn 2023, with other areas to follow in 2024. For now, there is no definitive timeline and currently traders should continue to complete declarations for GB-NI goods as they have been doing.

Customs Declaration Service (CDS)

Exporters have until 20 November 2023 to move across to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). Traders can either use an intermediary to create export declarations on their behalf, by authorising them through their Government Gateway Account, or traders can create their own entries through new software or the new export declaration online service.

The Trader Dress Rehearsal test environment is now live, and traders can test real data to check that the system is working correctly.

HMRC is expected to contact all export declarants in summer 2023 to ensure they are ready to make declarations through CDS and provide signposting to guidance. From September 2023 all export routes will be open for making declarations, this includes:

  • Export declarants who use a mix of routes including GVMS or inventory-linked locations
  • Export declarants that only use inventory-linked locations
  • Export declarants that only use Designated Export Place (DEP) movements
  • Export declarants using National Export System (NES) web service

After 30 November 2023, CDS will be live for the submission of all export declarations.