Government considering postponing EU-to-GB import controls currently due for 1 October

Thu 9 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

The government is considering delaying checks on imports on goods entering Great Britain from the EU to avoid disruption to supply chains in the run-up to Christmas.

Some industry figures believe an announcement could be made within days as officials look at the pros and cons of the decision, according to an exclusive report in Politics Home.

Second postponement

The government is mulling a postponement to the introduction of new rules at the start of next month for imports of animal-origin products, including meat and dairy goods.

Under the current timeline, firms importing products of animal origin and certain animal by-products will be required to get export health certificates from 1 October.

From this time, firms trading these goods, and those moving high-risk foods not of animal-origin, are also required to pre-notify their goods movements on DEFRA’s online systems.


These requirements were originally due to come in from the start of April but were postponed in March due to concerns that businesses were not ready for the new rules, having been struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

With supply chains now strained by the international shortage of HGV drivers, there is concern that European companies exporting to Britain will not be prepared for the October deadline.

Government line

The government’s official line is that businesses should continue to prepare for the 1 October deadline.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Our position remains that businesses should continue to prepare for import checks in October and January.”

However, according to Bloomberg, the retail and hospitality industry is expecting and preparing for the postponement of the new rules.


Reuters reports Irish Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also saying that he expects the UK to delay the introduction of checks following a meeting in London with Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

“The expectation is that the United Kingdom will announce a further extension of the grace periods, not just in relation to Northern Ireland but also imports from the EU and Ireland into the UK,” Varadkar said.

The government has already extended grace periods for goods moving into Northern Ireland to create “space” for further negotiations on the implementation of the NI Protocol.

Driver shortage impact

A host of companies including McDonald’s, KFC, Co-op and Ikea have already faced supply chain problems in recent weeks due to the ongoing driver shortage in the UK.

Today, Morrisons said the crisis will lead them to push up retail prices towards the end of the year, reports the BBC. 

Border Operating Model

Under the revised timetable, announced in March, firms were given extra time to prepare for the changes being brought in under the Border Operating Model (BOM) – the post-transition system for customs checks on imports from the EU into Great Britain.

Under the revised timetable announced in March, other controls will be bought into effect at the following times:

1 January 2022

  • Entry Safety and Security (ENS) declarations required for all imports 
  • Frontier declarations required for all imports unless traders are authorised to continue to use Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) or Entry into Declarant’s Record (EIDR)
  • Additional pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates required for low-risk plants and plant products
  • Physical SPS checks on high-risk plants and agri-foods and feed (including products of animal origin and high-risk foods not of animal origin) will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination

March 2022

  • From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products

Free webinar 

The IOE&IT is covering the expected rule changes for foods and agricultural goods in a free webinar it is running in association with the Digital Trader Services on 13 October.

You can register to the webinar here.