GB-EU Border Checks (UK & EU from 1st Jan 2021)

On 14 July, the EU updated and reissued it’s 1 Jan 2021 Readiness Notice on Customs (dated 22 Nov 2019) and combined the content with the updated and replaced Readiness Notices on Preferential Rules of Origin (dated 4 June 2018) and Customs and Indirect Taxation (dated 30 Jan 2018), here.

The day before, on 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model, here. I Blog posted about it at the time.

The Institute for Government in the UK has published a handy explainer – here.

GB to EU trade – From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations (UK export declarations and EU import declarations) will be required.

(2) If applicable, tariffs and import VAT will be payable at the time of import, unless traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) UK exit summary Safety and Security declaration (or combined fiscal and safety and security declaration) and EU entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(5) Full SPS checks will be imposed, including a requirement for UK Export Health Certificates.

(6) Additional requirements will apply to the export of other controlled goods, in line with EU and member state rules.

(7) Excise goods will be subject to the rules applied by the importing EU member state.

EU to GB trade –

From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will be required for controlled goods (e.g. excise goods like tobacco and alcohol).

(2) For standard goods (most goods), simplified customs requirements will be in place from January. Traders will have to keep sufficient records of their imports, but will be able to defer full customs declarations until 1 July 2021 (although they may submit customs declarations before if they wish).

(3) If applicable, tariffs will be payable, but it will be possible to defer payment until customs declarations are made (no later than July 2021). If applicable, import VAT will be payable, although many traders will be able to defer payment.

(4) An EU exit summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.

(5) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(6) Imports of high-risk live animal and plants (and animal and plant products) must be pre-notified to the UK authorities via IPAFFS, have correct health documentation and may be subject to checks. Physical checks will be carried out at the point of destination or other approved premises.

(7) Import licenses and other requirements will apply to the import of some high-risk goods.

(8) Businesses importing excise goods will need to pay GB excise duties using the CHIEF or CDS systems (although excise duties are already payable on excisable imports from the EU).

From April 2021

Imports of all products of animal origin, regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification to the UK authorities via IPAFFS and must have correct health documentation. Necessary physical checks will take place at the point of destination or other approved premises.

From July 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will need to be made at the time of import for all goods. Some traders may be eligible for simplified declaration procedures.

(2) Any applicable tariffs will be payable on import, although many traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) A UK entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Products subject to SPS checks will need to transit through a designated Border Control Post equipped to handle the goods in question and be subject to checks. Goods will subject to an increased rate of physical checks.

DEFRA SPS standards (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Lord Gardiner of Kimble made the following statements concerning the SPS standards regime that will operate from 1st Jan 2021 – (these statements made in the final reading of the Agriculture Bill at the House of Lords)

[note: goods placed on the NI market will need to comply with EU law where it’s listed in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol]

(1) The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland will apply to imports under new free trade agreements. For example, regulated food products will need to pass the FSA’s risk analysis process before being placed on the local market. The FSA has doubled the number of risk assessors since 2017. It can draw on the expertise of 100 scientific experts and support staff and has recruited 35 additional members to its advisory committees. It has also taken wider consumer interest into account, such as the impact on the environment, animal welfare and food security, drawing on appropriate expertise and stakeholders to do so. The expertise of other government departments and agencies will be brought to bear in the risk assessment process, as required, including the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Defra officials.

(2) Equivalence will be considered by experts in the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Food Standards Agency. The expert advice and evidence on regulated products will then be presented to Ministers and devolved Administrations for a decision on whether these products should be placed on the local market. Secondary legislation would need to be laid before Parliament to authorise new regulated products to be placed on the market.

(3) The functions of audit and inspection, currently carried out by the European Commission, will be repatriated to ensure that trading partners continue to meet local import conditions for food and feed safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. This will include officials auditing the food production systems and rules of other countries and carrying out inspection visits to facilities in the countries themselves. Verification that requirements are being carried out as stipulated will be conducted through checks at the border. Audits will ensure that trading partners have the necessary infrastructure and regulation in place to export safe food and animal products, which either meet or exceed local import conditions, and will then ensure that these standards are maintained.

(4) The UK Government will take a science-based approach to SPS measures and take their own sovereign decisions on standards and regulations, in line with the principles of the WTO SPS agreement and other relevant internationally recognised guidance.

[Information on the WTO SPS agreement is here – note, it does not of itself set out SPS standards]

(5) Food labelling rules apply to all food intended for supply to final consumers or to caterers. Imported food needs to be fully compliant before it is placed on the local market. The name and address of the local food business, or the importer, will be required on the label from 1st Jan 2021. There are no exceptions to food labelling rules for imported food.

(6) Re Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement joint committee met again on 16 July and the Northern Ireland Executive representative again attended, in line with the New Decade, New Approach deal. They exchanged updates on implementation of the protocol and discussed preparatory work for future decisions.

(7) Re quotas that form part of the commitments within the UK goods schedule, which has been lodged at the WTO. The UK has already agreed a common approach with the EU to apportion EU 28 tariff-rate quotas between the UK and EU 27 in order to ensure existing trade flows are maintained. Legislation will be presented by the Treasury later this year under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to establish new tariff quotas in UK law.

(8) Re Use of gene editing. Until 2018, there was uncertainty within the EU as to whether the living products of gene editing technology should be subject to the same regulatory framework as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because the legal definition of a GMO was open to interpretation.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that gene edited products must be treated in the same way as GMOs, even if the changes to their genetic material could have been produced by traditional methods, such as crossing varieties of the same species and selecting only the improved individuals.

The UK Government is committed to taking a more scientific approach to regulation.

Gene-edited changes to genetic material that would not arise naturally or from traditional breeding methods will still need to be regulated as genetically modified organisms. The UK Government will consult on this issue. Defra is working on the details so that a consultation can be launched in the autumn.

Further details are set out in the Hansard record – here.

EU-UK Readiness post 1st Jan 2021 (UK 1st Jan 2021)

Yesterday, 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model (206 page Policy Paper) that will apply from 1st Jan 2021 for GB trade with the EU – here.

In addition, HMRC information for traders importing or exporting goods between Britain (GB) and the EU after 1st Jan 2021 is published – here.

HMRC also has guidance on declaring goods brought into GB from the EU after 1st Jan 2021 (update from 10 July) – here.

Specific instructions –

(1) Plants and plant products (update from 10 June) – here

(2) Animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (update from 10 June) – here

In addition, the Forestry Commission’s guidance on importing wood, wood products or bark from non-EU countries is updated – here.

Protocols for GB trade with NI, and NI trade with the EU (including Ireland) will be published later this month (the UK government said yesterday 13 July).

I Blog posted a few days ago on EU-UK Readiness on the EU side.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification (UK WTO)

The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO members operate amongst themselves an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.

The UK submitted (13 March) information (for circulation to WTO Members) to answer the matter of the ongoing implementation of the United Kingdom’s obligations under this WTO SPS Agreement during the transition period following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and to set out the UK’s own SPS Regulatory System.

The UK ceased to be a member State of the European Union on 31 January 2020. The UK and the EU agreed a Withdrawal Agreement which provides for a time-limited transition period until 1 January 2021 during which European Union law, as implemented through the Withdrawal Agreement, will continue to apply to and in the United Kingdom.

This means that the European Union SPS regime continues to apply in the United Kingdom during the transition period and, following that, the United Kingdom will apply its own SPS regime.

The United Kingdom Parliament legislated to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 by means of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The 2018 Act preserves, and incorporates into domestic law, those elements of European Union law which will apply in the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in turn implements the Withdrawal Agreement (which provides for the transition period) including by amending the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to reflect the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK SPS Regulatory System is set out in the Notice – here

The UK Government is responsible for matters pertaining to the SPS Agreement and international trade. However, powers to implement, regulate and assure food safety, animal and plant health including matters relating to import and export, are devolved by the UK Parliament to the respective administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (collectively referred to as the Devolved Administrations).

Importing Animal Products etc from 1st Jan 2021 (UK Brexit)

The UK is in the Brexit Transition Period. From 1st January 2021, (it is expected) access is denied to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System).

Importers from non-EU should use the UK’s new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for imports of:

• live animals

• products of animal origin (POAO) subject to veterinary checks

• high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin

• germplasm (also called germinal products)

• animal by-products not intended for human consumption (ABP) subject to veterinary checks

(non-EU) Health certificates and other documentation currently used for imports will be accepted by the UK for 6 months from 1 January 2021. Importers will then need to use a new UK health certificate.

(non-EU) Imports of high-risk food or feed of non-animal origin into the UK must continue to be made through a border control post (BCP), previously called a border inspection post (BIP) or designated point of entry (DPE).

(non-EU) Live animals, germplasm, POAOs and ABP that are subject to vet checks must continue into the UK through a UK border control post (BCP).

Further information is here. Note the IV66 form. This is to be used initially for imports from the EU, because the IPAFFS will not be used initially.

Products of animal origin (POAO) arriving in the UK from the EU will not need to notify using IV66 unless the consignment is coming from an EU member state with disease outbreak safeguard measures in place.

Imports from the EU of POAO will not need to be accompanied by a health certificate, unless a health certificate was required on the commodity before 31 January 2020.

The process for importing feed and food from the EU to the UK won’t change from 1 January 2021. There will be no additional controls or checks – if you did not use TRACES, you will not need to use IPAFFS or IV66.

Please read the attached information here, this Blog post is not a complete summary.

The UK also updated its list of Border Control Posts – here.

The UK also updated its guidance on trade agreements with non-EU countries (this is important for imports from non-EU) – here.

GM Food and Animal Feed (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Instructions (by the Food Standards Agency) are issued today re exports of GM Food and Animal Feed Products to the EU From 1st January 2021 – here.

Please read carefully, below is a summary –

The information applies to UK businesses:

* holding or seeking authorisations for genetically modified (GM) food or feed

* holding or seeking authorisations for animal feed additives

* exporting animal feed products to the EU

* that have applications to update the list of feed for particular nutritional purposes (PARNUTS) pending on 31 December 2020

• that represent companies that are based in non-EU countries which rely on UK representation for EU trade

The business must be established in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), or have a representative that is established in the EU or EEA for trade to the EU to occur. The EEA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The role of the representative is to provide assurance that the non-EU establishment complies with EU legislation.

Where EU authorisations are held for GM food or feed, or for animal feed additives, a representative must be established in the EU or EEA. The details of the representative must be sent to the European Commission. This could be a branch of the business which is established in the EU or EEA or another business.

Changes to holder-specific authorisations for GM food or feed, or for feed additives, require amendments to EU legislation which would need to be in place by 31 December 2020. Businesses in the process of such changes must approach the European Commission as soon as possible.

Exporters of feed products to the EU require representation in the EU or EEA. EU countries will each have their own systems for this and businesses should consult with the relevant competent authority in the EU country for further advice on gaining recognition for their representative. The requirement for non-EU country representation would apply to all feed products exported to the EU.

The requirement for non-EU country representation applies to all feed products. This follows the European Commission’s announcement of a revised interpretation of Regulation (EC) 183/2005, Article 24. The FSA is currently seeking clarity on this interpretation, but companies should nevertheless anticipate this revised interpretation and consider designating a representative within the EU or the EEA.

Regulation (EC) No 183/2005 on feed hygiene states that establishments approved by the competent authority shall be recorded in a national list under an individual identifying number. From 1 January 2021, these approval numbers may not be recognised in EU countries.

Please clarify with your third country representative or the competent authority in the individual member state(s) that you wish to export to, to ensure that you are compliant with the rules on third country requirements when exporting to the EU.