Logistics UK, the business group representing the logistics sector, has welcomed the UK government’s extension of the deadline for the introduction of full customs declarations and other formalities for imports to the UK from the EU.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, announced in parliament on March 11 that new checks on products of animal origin and plants (known as sanitary and phytosanitary checks), as well as full customs declarations at the point of importation for goods coming from the EU, are to be postponed for six to nine months. This will ease the administrative burden on logistics organizations currently working to supply the UK through Covid-19 lockdowns, according to Sarah Laouadi, European policy manager at Logistics UK.
“Alleviating pressures on the supply chain caused by the current pandemic remains the priority for our sector,” she added. “[This] announcement acknowledges the challenges and mounting compliance pressure created by multiple Covid-19 lockdowns and regulations across different European nations. By moving the deadline for the introduction of extra import formalities on goods coming to the UK, the government is providing more time for businesses and authorities to adapt to the upcoming extra requirements; for example, by training staff, designing robust business processes to interact with new IT systems and agreeing a new allocation of roles and responsibilities with their supply chain partners. This will protect the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain to keep the nation supplied with the goods and services it needs.
“It is imperative that governments and industry now work hand in hand to make the best possible use of this extra time, to raise the level of readiness for checks both in the UK and in the EU. In particular, Logistics UK is pushing the UK government for a much bigger focus on end-to-end provision of guidance to ease the import process and enhanced engagement with traders, but also hauliers, on both sides of the UK’s border.”
Initially, the UK government intended to phase in new sanitary and phytosanitary import formalities for a large number of products of animal origin on April 1. Full customs declarations for all imports without any deferment option were to be required from July 1, as would physical checks at border control posts on so called agrifood products.
Laouadi concluded, “[This] announcement will mean that businesses have an extra six to nine months – depending on products – to prepare for these two deadlines while fast-moving Covid-19-related rules hopefully stabilize and are phased out.”