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UK pork producers disadvantaged as new Brexit import checks delayed for six months

11th Mar 2021 / By Alistair Driver

New Brexit controls and checks on food products coming into Great Britain from the EU have been delayed by six months, leaving the domestic pork industry facing a competitive disadvantage at least until the start of next year. 


While new EU checks on exports from GB came into force from day one, January 1, 2021, following the UK’s formal departure from the EU Single Market and Custom’s Union, the UK’s equivalent import checks were always going to be phased in.

But today, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that they have been further delayed, meaning the need for health certificates for pork and other meat and dairy products has been put back from April 1 to October 1, while physical checks at Border Control Posts will be introduced at the start of 2022, rather than on July 1, 2021.

Physical checks on live animals and low-risk plants and plant material will not take place until March 2022. 

Given that UK exports have suffered delays, extra bureaucracy and added costs since the start of this year, the announcement will be met with some frustration across the food and farming sector.

NPA senior policy adviser Charlie Dewhirst said: “This is not remotely unexpected – the prospects of the Government being ready to introduce these checks have been looking remote for a while.

“Given the disruption to pork exports resulting from additional checks required by the EU since the start of this year, this clearly disadvantages British pig producers. We are not being allowed to compete on a level playing field with EU producers, who are gaining a clear competitive advantage.”

COVID disruption

Mr Gove blamed COVID disruption and claimed the Government was responding to calls from businesses for more time.

“Last June, we announced a timetable for the phased introduction of controls on imports from the EU into Great Britain, to ensure businesses could prepare in a phased way,” he said.

“This timetable was based on the impacts of the first wave of COVID. We know now that the disruption caused by COVID has lasted longer and has been deeper than we anticipated. Accordingly, the Government has reviewed these timeframes.

“Although we recognise that many in the border industry and many businesses have been investing time and energy to be ready on time, and indeed we in Government were confident of being ready on time, we have listened to businesses who have made a strong case that they need more time to prepare.”

Revised timetable

This is the revised timetable for the introduction of controls:

  • Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until October 1, 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date.
  • Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to January 1, 2022.
  • Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until January 1, 2022.
  • Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until January 1, 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.
  • Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from January 1, 2022.
  • Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from January 1, 2022.
  • From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.