Ministers delay imposing post-Brexit customs checks on EU imports

Ministers delay imposing post-Brexit customs checks on goods coming from the EU amid fears extra red tape would cause food shortages over Christmas and hammer firms as they try to recover from coronavirus crisis

  • Ministers today announced further delay to the introduction of customs checks
  • New checks on goods coming from the EU to the UK had been due from October
  • Will now be phased in across 2022 as ministers try to avoid further disruption

Ministers today announced a further delay to the introduction of full post-Brexit import checks on goods coming to the UK from the EU as they try to prevent border chaos.

Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office Minister, said full import controls will now be phased in across 2022 to give businesses more time to recover from the coronavirus crisis.   

The UK was supposed to be introducing a fresh wave of border rules on imports of animal origin and certain foods from next month.

There were fears the added paperwork would hammer firms as they try to get back on their feet and concerns the red tape would combine with ongoing HGV driver shortages to cause food supply chain disruption over the Christmas period. 

Business chiefs welcomed the ‘sensible’ decision but warned they ‘want certainty’ from ministers about how the new regime will work and guarantees that the rollout will go smoothly. 

Ministers today announced a further delay to the introduction of full post-Brexit import checks on goods coming to the UK from the EU. The Port of Dover is pictured in April this year

Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office Minister, said full import controls will now be phased in across 2022 to give businesses more time to recover from the coronavirus crisis

The decision to push back the introduction of the checks will give firms more time to adjust to post-Brexit arrangements. 

It will also give the Government more time to get new systems in place while also reducing the risk of adding to border disruption problems. 

The EU imposed its post-Brexit checks on UK imports in full from January but Britain has opted for a gradual shift to the new rules for goods coming from the continent. 

Today’s announcement represents the second time the Government has delayed the introduction of more checks, having taken a similar decision in March this year.   

Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced from January as was previously announced, but safety and security declarations will now not be required until July. 

Lord Frost said: ‘We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls.

‘Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022.

‘The Government remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required.’

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘The announcement of this delay is sensible given the ongoing issues with ensuring trader readiness, the need to build more border control posts and the skills shortages crisis. 

‘Food checks would come in at the time of year with the lowest imports from the EU.

‘But businesses want certainty from Government. Ministers need to show them how they plan to step up rates of EU trader readiness for the new controls.’ 

New paperwork rules on the movement of certain food products which had been due to come into effect from October will now be rolled out in January.

Physical border checks on those goods will now start in July next year instead of January. 

New requirements for Export Health Certificates, which were due to be introduced next month, will now be introduced in July.    

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