A huge raft of changes to the UK’s customs framework will come into effect over the next 6 months including the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).

But what is it and how will it affect you?

One aim of BTOM is to reduce exit checks on goods entering the UK from the EU by using a more targeted, risk-based system for checks, “underpinned by evidence and data”.

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The previous Trusted Trader Scheme has now been replaced by UKIMS (UK Internal Market Scheme). Assuming your application is successful it certifies that you’ve been evaluated and deemed sufficiently customs compliant to be allowed to send your goods to NI without any checks because they are confident your goods won’t slip over the border into the EU.

The BTOM also needs to be considered in the context of the Windsor Framework which was designed to secure seamless trade within the UK’s domestic market and uphold Northern Ireland’s affiliation with the EU customs union. 

The BTOM guarantees that Northern Ireland businesses will continue to enjoy unfettered access when transporting goods to Great Britain.

It also outlines the practicalities for ensuring that traders in Northern Ireland encounter no trade obstacles when moving Northern Irish Qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, directly or via Ireland.

Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods (QNIGs) are defined by HMRC as goods in free circulation in Northern Ireland, which means goods not under a Customs procedure or in an authorised temporary storage facility.

This move by the UK government ensures the benefits of unfettered access are more focused on Northern Ireland Traders. 

From the 31st January 2024, all non-qualifying goods will face full Customs controls and the requirement for pre-notification and certification when moved directly from Ireland via Irish ports to Great Britain.

Export Health Certificates and Phytosanitary Certificates will be required for Irish medium-risk animal products, plants and plant products moving directly from Ireland to GB ports.

Pre-notification requirements (except for low-risk plants and plant products) and full Customs controls will be introduced for non-qualifying goods moving from Northern Ireland or Ireland to GB.

From the 31st October 2024, The UK Government will introduce documentary and physical identity checks for medium-risk animal products, plants and plant products imported to Great Britain from the EU.

The UK Government will introduce Safety and Security declarations for EU imports. A reduced dataset for imports will be introduced. For ‘non-qualifying’ goods moving from Northern Ireland or Ireland to GB, documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU will be introduced.