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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 opens in a new window  sets out this vision.

The final version of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) has been published which replaces the draft version. This sets out a new approach to importing into Great Britain being progressively introduced from the end of January 2024. 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 processes will continue to be valid until the BTOM is implemented in full.

Three of the major milestones for the introduction of the BTOM are:

  • 31 January 2024 — Export health certificates and phytosanitary certificates introduced for medium-risk animal products, plant and plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin imported to Great Britain from the EU. Pre-notification requirement will be removed for low-risk plant and plant products from the EU.
  • 30 April 2024 — Documentary checks and physical and identity checks at the border will be introduced for medium-risk animal products, plant and plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin imported from the EU to Great Britain.
  • 31 October 2024 — Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force and full customs controls will be applied to goods arriving into Great Britain from Ireland.

Learn more about the current Border Operating Model on GOV.UK opens in a new window

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.

You can read the guidance hereopens in a new window 

In March 2023, the UK and the EU formally adopted the Windsor Framework, which replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol. The UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) replaced with the UK Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS) as of September 2023.

Once the new agreement comes fully into force, key benefits to traders will include:

  • Traders will have access to a new comprehensive tariff reimbursement scheme
    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
  • The Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme will introduce a new way to move prepacked retail goods from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) into Northern Ireland. Full online registration launched in September 2023.

Learn more about the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme on GOV.UK opens in a new window

Customs Declaration Service

The majority of exporters have until 30 March 2024 to move across to the Customer Declaration Serviceopens in a new window

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.

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