Brexit: the Border Operating Model

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The United Kingdom (UK) is gradually introducing new import rules and border controls. This is done in three phases, based on the Border Operating Model (BOM). It affects all exports to the UK.

The European Union (EU) treats incoming trade from the UK as trade form a third country, a country outside the EU since 1 January. The UK has drawn up its own new rules that are described in the BOM. This is separate from the trade agreement reached by the EU and the UK. So far, the UK has only introduced the first phase of the BOM on 1 January 2021. The next two phases of the BOM will be implemented by the UK on 1 October 2021 and 1 January and end 2023. From these dates, new rules apply to a group of products described in the BOM. Below is a brief overview per phase of the import rules and border controls that will apply to these products when exported to the UK. Note: the BOM is still under development. This can lead to additional obligations and changes up to the last minute. Be aware of this. For more information, see the BOM on the UK government website.

Dates postponed

On 11 March 2021 the UK government announced that the dates of phase two and three would be postponed. Phase 2 (1 April 2021) was postponed to 1 October 2021 (veterinary health certificate) and 1 January 2022 (phytosanitary certificate). Phase 3 was 1 July 2021. This date was postponed to 1 January 2022 and end 2023. Read the UK statement.

Phase 1: valid from 1 January 2021

  • Import rules and border controls apply to a limited group of products on the so-called 'controlled list'.
  • Some examples of goods on the 'controlled list' are: alcohol, tobacco, (bio) fuel, medicines and protected animal and plant species. The full list can also be found on pages 274 to 281 of the BOM.
  • Import regulations and border controls apply to certain animal and vegetable products. This includes plants and vegetable products, packaging wood, (high-risk) animal by-products, products of animal origin subject to safeguard measures, live animals and fish products and shellfish and crustaceans.
  • Registered importers may postpone the import declaration for ‘standard goods’ (goods that are not on the controlled list) for six months.
  • No security declaration or entry summary declaration (ENS) is required before the transport arrives in the UK.

Phase 2: from 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022

In Phase 2, new import rules apply to agricultural products and foodstuffs such as vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, plants, dairy, eggs, meat and certain fishery products.

Phase 3: from 1 January 2022

On 1 January most BOM with all the described border formalities and procedures will come into effect. This means that most goods imports into the UK must meet all requirements and obligations. Only 'low risk product' will not need to meet all formalities yet.

  • From 1 January 2022 customs declarations in the UK can no longer be postponed.
  • From 1 January 2022, product exports to the UK that are required to carry veterinary health certificates (live animals, meat, dairy products) must now pass a designated border control post in the UK. This also applies to 'high risk' vegetable agricultural goods such as trees and perennials.
  • From 1 January 2022, before the transport arrives in the UK, a ‘security declaration’ or ‘entry summary declaration’ (ENS) must be submitted to English customs.

The veterinary and phytosanitary certification of 'low-risk' products (vegetables, fruits, plants, and flowers) and these product passing a designated border control post in the UK has been postponed until end 2023. It will become part of the Target Operating Model (TOM) that will replace BOM. Information about TOM will be published in the fall of 2022. Read more.

Q&A about the Brexit

There is an extensive Q&A about the Brexit Trade Agreement available on the website of the European Commission. It explains what the new rules mean for different sectors, such as trade in goods, fisheries and road transport. There are nine chapters in total and you can search per sector. At the top you can choose your language. You can find answers to questions such as: What was agreed to facilitate trade in automotive? How does the Agreement contribute to trade and sustainable development? Will air carriers still have the same rights to operate between and within the EU and the UK? Note that this Q&A was published in December 2020 and therefore speaks of a draft agreement.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about the Border Operating Model (BOM), we advise you to consult the British government, see links below. You can also contact the NVWA.

The website Get ready for Brexit will guide you through the customs rules for all transport of goods between the EU and the UK.

Dutch central government

Brexit information on business.gov.nl

Brexit information: Agriculture, fisheries & food

Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA, in Dutch). Some information is available in English.

Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) (in Dutch) DITNetherlands@fco.gov.uk

UK government

GOV.UK: Border Operating Model (BOM)

GOV.UK: Overzichtspagina ten behoeve van EU-exporteurs (Dutch)

British Embassy in The Hague or ask your questions by email to the British Embassy in The Hague: DITNetherlands@fco.gov.uk

GOV.UK: a series of webinars about border requirements

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