Target Operating Model: UK government publishes long-awaited plan for post-Brexit import controls

Wed 5 Apr 2023
Posted by: Richard Cree
Trade News

Target Border Operating Model

The UK government, in collaboration with the Scottish and Welsh governments, has today (5 April) published its long-awaited draft plan for introducing remaining import controls on goods entering Britain from the EU.

The Border Target Operating Model (TOM) published today (5 April), sets out a plan to realise the ambition laid out in the 2025 Border Strategy, to create the most effective border in the world.

According to Sky News, one aim of TOM is to reduce post-EU exit checks on goods entering the UK from the EU.

Investment backing

Backed by over £1bn in investment, the model takes what the draft release calls “a data-driven approach to managing the border, utilising technology to reduce huge quantities of paperwork firms are currently required to complete when importing”.

TOM also includes a shift to a more targeted, risk-based system for checks, “underpinned by evidence and data”. After a period of consultation on the draft, the model will be released across three milestones between the end of October this year and October 2024.

The new approach applies to security controls for all imports, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls for imports of live animals, germinal products, animal products, plants and plant products. It sets out how controls will be delivered through simplifications, digitalisation and the UK’s new Single Trade Window.

Trusted Trader schemes will be introduced to further reduce checks on goods shipped by frequent importers and there are plans to undertake checks further away from the border to relieve the pressures and delays at ports.

The government is keen to engage with traders and businesses to get feedback on this draft and in this release it states, “It is important stakeholders have a further chance to comment on the proposals before they are finalised, given how critical the private sector and border authorities are to implementing any new model.”

The engagement period will run for 6 weeks until 19 May. 

21st century model

The Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director general Marco Forgione welcomed the clarity that the long-awaited announcement will provide, saying:

“We welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides, allowing importers to plan and prepare while ensuring there will be greater symmetry in how controls are applied for Britain’s exports and imports.

“It’s also great to see the government is embracing a 21st century approach to its border with the digitalisation of checks.

“In our paper last year on the UK’s future border strategy, we concluded that modernising our border could reduce barriers to trade and encourage more businesses to trade internationally.

“The Border Target Operating Model is a key step in the digitalisation of trade in the UK and we look forward to supporting government in the development of other key initiatives such as the Single Trade Window and Ecosystem of Trust programmes.”

Free webinar

IOE&IT, which was involved in extensive consultation with the government in the development of the new model, will be running a free webinar to explain the implications of it on Wednesday 12 April 2023.

IOE&IT director of strategic partnerships and international development, Kevin Shakespeare, told the IOE&IT Daily Update that businesses need to quickly familiarise themselves with the details of the new plan. He said:

“The publication of the Border Target Operating Model is a landmark moment for UK trade with significant implications for businesses. I would urge businesses to become fully acquainted with the details of this new framework.”

Stay up-to-date

IOE&IT’s team of trade and customs experts will be reviewing the new model extensively during the six-week consultation period.

IOE&IT will publish further articles in the coming weeks and months and will update traders on key points from the model, as well as hosting further webinars on how traders can prepare for it. It will also be reaching out to collect your views and opinions on the draft model as part of its ongoing conversations with the government.

Sign up to the free webinar on Wednesday 12 April, at 2pm, ‘The Target Operating Model – what it means for your business’, here.