The Border Target Operating Model – what it is and what it means for your business

The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is a document published by the UK Government, outlining the strategy and processes for how the UK’s border should be managed in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Shutterstock 619078730
Louis Miles-Stringer
Published: 14 Dec 2023 Updated: 14 Dec 2023
Tax Business tax

The changes are planned for 2024, and will be implemented in three stages. These are detailed in the Border Target Operating Model, and are likely to impact how your supply chain operates:

  • 31 January 2024health certification will be required for imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.
  • 30 April 2024 – documentary and physical checks will be introduced on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. A simplification will also be implemented for imports from non-EU countries based on risk levels.
  • 31 October 2024safety and security declarations will be required for imports from the EU. This will comprise a reduced dataset for those submitting declarations through the Single Trade Window in order to reduce duplication.

This new trading framework, which has been delayed five times, has been rescheduled to come into force in 2024. This follows reports that the UK Government had concerns that the implementation of import checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods would exacerbate pricing pressures on food imports due to increased border costs and cause severe disruption to the UK food supply chain.

What are sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls?

SPS controls are import rules that are applied at the point of importation in order to protect the internal market from biosecurity risks.

Prior to Brexit, as a member of the EU the UK was bound by EU legislation to share and enforce the EU’s biosecurity regime. This meant that imports of products of animal origin (POAO) needed to undergo documentary, identification, and physical checks in order to be allowed to enter free circulation in the EU from third countries (those outside the single market).

Since leaving the EU, the UK is free to design its own biosecurity and border regime and create its own risk framework, which is why the implementation of SPS checks did not happen immediately following the UK’s exit from the EU.

What are safety and security (S&S) declarations?

S&S declarations are used by border agencies to analyse the potential risk of shipments entering their territory across borders. The responsibility to submit the S&S declaration typically falls with the carrier or haulier.

The dataset required to complete a S&S declaration will not include any surprises or information that you will not have access to as the importer, however it is important to ensure that the relevant information is readily available to you and your carrier in order to avoid any unwanted disruptions or delays.

How to prepare

If you are an importer of sanitary & phytosanitary goods, and this is the first you are hearing of these changes, now is the time to act. You should consider the steps below to ensure you are prepared for SPS checks:

  • Assess which of your products require an Export Health Certificate
  • Communicate with any suppliers you may have in the EU and assess their readiness levels regarding the provision of Export Health Certificates
  • Ensure that your customs broker is aware of the requirements and full instructions for your goods. SPS goods and the shipment data will need to be pre-lodged in DEFRA’s import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) from 1st February 2024
  • Ensure your logistics or freight agent is aware of the requirements for Border Control Post checks if prompted.

Businesses that have been exporting goods from the UK to the EU or importing from countries outside of the EU will be used to providing this data for S&S declarations, but businesses who only import will be required to provide new information on 1st November next year.

If you wish to discuss any of the topics covered in this summary of the forthcoming changes to the UK’s border strategy or would benefit from expert advice on your supply chain as a result of these changes, please get in touch with your usual Evelyn Partners contact. Otherwise, you can contact Louis Miles-Stringer:

Approval code: NTEH7122365

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication.

Tax legislation

Tax legislation is that prevailing at the time, is subject to change without notice and depends on individual circumstances. You should always seek appropriate tax advice before making decisions. HMRC Tax Year 2023/24.