New post-Brexit custom rules for goods arriving from the European Union (EU) to the UK kicked in on Saturday, with a leading British food industry body warning that the new border controls could lead to major food disruptions.
The new rules, which took effect on January 1, state that importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries.
Businesses will no longer be allowed to delay completing full import customs declarations on non-regulated goods for up to 175 days – a measure that was introduced to cope with the disruption of Brexit.
The British Frozen Food Federation said the new restrictions on animal and plant products from the EU could result in major delays at ports in the new year because some in the supply chain, especially logistics companies on the EU side, may not be prepared for the customs changes.
The new measures require businesses to complete all the necessary paperwork at least four hours before goods can arrive at UK borders, or they risk being turned back at the border. Animal and plant-based products must also have statements of origin certificates, according to the updated regulations.
While drivers must declare their goods and origin certificates, checks are expected to be minimal until the rules ramp up beginning in July, when much stricter inspections are expected to come into force.
The concerns about the new rules are highlighted by the fact that the UK imports five times the amount of food that it exports to the EU, with almost 80% of all the food that British retailers import coming from the EU, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).