The Border Target Operating Model

5 April 2023

The UK government has published the draft version of the Border Target Operating Model, which sets out the government’s model for importing goods into the UK from countries inside and outside the EU. 

What does the Border Target Operating Model cover?

The Target Operating Model applies to imports of live animals, germinal products, animal products, plants and plant products from all countries into Great Britain, and describes the implementation of new security and biosecurity controls on imports from the EU.

How will the Target Operating Model be implemented?

The model will be implemented through three milestones, and the government is urging importers and their supply chains to start their preparations for the first milestone now.  

Key dates for your diary:

  • 31 October 2023 – The introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU. 
  • 31 January 2024 – The introduction of 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. At this point, imports of Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the new risk-based model.  
  • 31 October 2024 – Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force. Alongside this, we will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets. 

These milestones apply to medium – to high-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin (sanitary and phytosanitary goods). 

Will other products be impacted too?

It is important to consider the import requirements for low-risk sanitary and phytosanitary goods as well. These products include a wide range of fresh produce which don’t carry an identified pest/disease risk but where there isn’t sufficient evidence to confirm there is no risk. This also includes processed, shelf-stable products, such as composites, certain canned meat products, processed animal by-products, certain fishery products, and aquatic animal products from lower risk countries. 

The Border Target Operating Model outlines that the importation of low-risk consignments will have minimal routine border controls applied. Provision of a pre-notification and commercial documentation will still be required, but there would be no requirement for health certification or routine physical border checks. 

Low-risk consignments can only enter ports designated for their commodities

Irrespective of minimal routine border controls for these low-risk consignments, these goods would still need to enter via a port that has a Border Control Post (BCP) designated for that type of commodity. This requirement has been set because the BCP links to a port health authority to administer the pre-notification. If local evidence suggests that a physical inspection of a low-risk consignment is necessary, a Border Control Post is the most suitable location for this to occur. 

The requirement for goods to be routed via a port that has a BCP for the designated commodity could pose an issue for traders that import low-risk sanitary and phytosanitary goods via a port that has limited controls capability, such as the Port of Dover. 

How might Dover be impacted by the Border Target Operating Model?

As Dover is Europe’s busiest roll-on roll-off ferry port in the UK, and together with the Eurotunnel has the quickest route to and from Europe, Dover is a vital international gateway for the movement of trade. However, due to its limited border control capability, there is a serious risk of disruption to existing trade routes via the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel for consignments containing sanitary and phytosanitary products. 

Make sure your business is prepared for these changes

Traders will need to consider this restriction of importing consignments containing sanitary and phytosanitary products via the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel, and review alternative options if they do not want to run the risk of disruption. 

The draft Border Target Operating Model seeks feedback from stakeholders on all aspects of the Border Target Operating Model. We encourage traders to flag the risks associated with low-risk consignments whilst the Border Target Operating Model is still in draft to create awareness at the government level.

Useful links

The publication can be accessed: The Border Target Operating Model: Draft for Feedback

A press release containing additional background can be accessed at: UK Government publishes draft proposals for new border controls – GOV.UK (


To find out more about how the Border Target Operating Model could impact your business, please contact us directly.

Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,

UK Parliament

Changes to UK Import Duty: is your business prepared?

Since the UK left the EU in 2021, new customs policies have been reviewed to support business and facilitate new trade agreements.

Currently, the UK has advance rulings for tariff classifications and origin of goods, but not for customs valuations. This can make it harder for traders to determine which customs valuation methodology is the most appropriate to establish the customs value for the calculation of the customs duties.

To address this problem and for traders to obtain confirmation on the customs value method to use, the UK Government aims to introduce the option to obtain an Advance Valuation Ruling (AVR).

In their policy paper, HMRC outlines the details and background relating to the AVR. The main aim being a written decision that is legally binding on the trader as well as on HMRC. Therefore, an AVR provides certainty to traders on how to determine the customs value, which serves as the basis to calculate the customs duties that are due.

The UK Government hopes that the AVR system will also contribute to their objective to deliver a modern digital customs service for traders in the UK, which in turn:

  • Enables the UK to meet the requirements of the new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and 
  • Support the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

HMRC hopes that by introducing a legally binding valuation ruling, traders should find it easier to apply a certain customs value for their imports as well as to justify the appropriateness of the customs value to the customs clearing agents.

For further guidance and advice on how your business can prepare for these changes, please contact us directly:


Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,

Canary Wharf

The Windsor Framework: what are the post-Brexit opportunities for UK businesses?

If you’ve been following UK politics and Brexit news in the last few weeks, you might be familiar with the phrase ‘Windsor Framework’, which has been in the headlines rather a lot. In particular, since UK MPs passed the bill by 515 to 29 votes on Wednesday, March 22nd.

To spare you endless jargonese, we’ve produced an 850-word summary of it in layman’s terms.

We’ll explain what the Windsor Framework is, why it’s important, and who might benefit from it.

To begin: what is the Windsor Framework?

This is a legal agreement that was revealed by the UK Government on February 27th, 2023. It is chiefly designed to alleviate the disruption caused by the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, which critics argue has undermined trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain since it took effect on January 1st, 2021.

Why is the Windsor Framework such an important milestone for Brexit?

  • It should prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Although a hard border was already averted under the Northern Ireland Protocol, businesses faced higher costs and more bureaucracy due to ‘burdensome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spend discrepancies and democratic governance issues.’ The Windsor Framework is thus regarded as a long-term solution that eliminates the possibility of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

  • Facilitate faster movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

The Windsor Framework is expected to substantially reduce the number of checks and controls on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This will be welcome news to businesses that have endured disruption since Brexit took effect.

Who may benefit the most from the Windsor Framework?

  • Trusted traders will benefit from significantly lower customs declaration costs

The Windsor Framework permanently enables the free movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, removing any sense of a border in the Irish Sea. It also expands the ‘green lane’ (the UK’s internal market scheme) to cut out time-consuming, costly customs processes and checks for businesses recognised as ‘trusted traders’.

UK businesses selling goods destined for Northern Ireland can become ‘trusted traders’ by proving to HMRC that their goods are not at risk of being moved to the EU and becoming subject to EU duty. These businesses must also meet all the necessary customs compliance requirements, and others, such as systems and controls, which you can learn more about on the website here.

For companies involved in manufacturing and processing, the turnover threshold for moving goods that will stay in Northern Ireland has quadrupled from £0.5 million to £2 million. Thus, this expands eligibility to about four fifths of manufacturing and processing companies in Northern Ireland that trade with Great Britain. But firms above this threshold will still be eligible to move goods if they are to be used for animal feed, healthcare, construction or not-for-profit sectors.

This is a 95-billion-Euro funding programme for research and innovation in Europe, afforded to countries in the EU and associated countries, the latter of which would apply to the UK. Funding is open to all organisations interested in engaging in ground-breaking research, new technology, or other projects to support climate change mitigation and improve food security.

  • The agreement could decrease the likelihood of a trade war between the UK and the EU

If the UK refused to agree a Brexit deal, the EU could retaliate by suspending the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. As you can imagine, this would be very disruptive for UK businesses, especially those that trade heavily with EU member states. Fortunately, the Windsor Framework renders this outcome highly unlikely.

  • The UK’s financial services sector could benefit from a new UK-EU Financial Regulatory Forum

The executive body of the EU revealed earlier this month its intention to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on financial services regulatory cooperation. Since Brexit, London has faced stiffer competition from EU financial hubs such as Amsterdam, Europe’s top share-trading venue in 2022, and Frankfurt, continental Europe’s leading financial centre in 2021. It is hoped the new forum could repair and potentially strengthen UK-EU relations in the financial sector, which in 2021 contributed roughly £174 billion to the UK economy – more than 8% of national economic output.

  • VAT could become more flexible for UK businesses

UK businesses will be allowed to charge reduced VAT rates on goods supplied and installed via immovable property. The UK will also be free to reduce VAT rates for a broader range of goods than is currently permitted under EU law. For example, the UK Government claims the Windsor Framework would save 2,000 Northern Ireland businesses from having to register for VAT under a 2025 EU Directive.

  • There could be a new UK-specific marketing authorisation and labelling system for medicines

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) could assess all medicinal products destined for the UK. Those that comply with UK laws could be labeled ‘UK only’ and could be moved freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK Government also claims the Windsor Framework ‘safeguards frictionless access to the EU market for world-leading Northern Ireland pharmaceutical and medical technology firms’.

  • Agricultural foods, such as pork and milk, will have reduced checks.

This could benefit supermarkets and other food retailers, whose products will no longer be subject to physical checks and tests. Visual inspections should be drastically cut from 100% to 5%.

When is the Windsor Framework expected to be implemented?

Parts of the agreement could take effect by May 2023, but it may not be fully operational until 2025.

It is also highly likely that there will be further negotiations and amendments to the Windsor Framework in the coming months and years.

How can you stay up to date with all things Brexit?

Follow us on LinkedIn to read more expert analyses on Windsor Framework and other Brexit news.

Or get in touch with Arjen or Maartje, who will be happy to assist you.


Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,


Upcoming deadlines for import and export measures in the UK

Whilst 2023 is already well underway, it is important to consider the important milestones relating pending UK import and export measures that 2023 holds.

These milestones should be considered and addressed appropriately to avoid disruption of trade flows in and out of the UK. CDS export Exporters will have more time to move across to the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

The planned date of the 1st April 2023 no longer applies and traders now have until 30th November 2023 to continue using the CHIEF system for export declarations. CDS for exports will be introduced in a phased approach and the key phases are: › From late February 2023 – export declarants that only move goods through ports in the UK that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) – also known as non-inventory linked ports.

› From May 2023 – export declarants that currently use the National Export System (NES) web service to submit export declarations on CHIEF

› From September 2023 – export declarants using inventory-linked ports and DEPs

› From 30 November 2023 – All export declarations must be made using CDS Import controls The Government previously announced that the changes to import controls on certain products coming from the EU would not be introduced on 1 July 2022 as planned. These import controls now have a target launch date of end of 2023.

The list of controls that are now planned to be introduced by the end of 2023 is:

› A requirement for safety and security declarations on EU imports

› A requirement for health certification for further Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) imports

› A requirement for SPS goods to be presented at a Border Control Post (BCP)

› A requirement for SPS currently at destination to be moved to a BCP

› A requirement to issue Certificates of Inspection (COI) for organic imports

› A requirement for organic imports to be presented at a BCP

› Prohibitions and restrictions on the import of chilled meats from the EU

UKCA marking

The UKCA marking is the product marking used for products being placed on the market in Great Britain. The UKCA marking applies to most products for which the European CE marking could be used and would have become required per 1 January 2023.

To provide businesses with some flexibility, the UK government will bring forward legislation that continues to allow recognition of the CE marking for most goods that are being placed on the market until 31 December 2024.

It should be noted that UKCA marking is already available and can be used.


Importers of products from the EU currently benefit from the relative flexible UK import controls measures, at least until the above listed restrictions come into play. It is however pertinent that the UK and EU come to some sort of mutual recognition on the import controls topics to ensure a continuation of the market access for all goods.

With the agreement on 27 February 2023 relating the Northern Ireland situation (The Windsor Framework), the EU and the UK have made a first step to a closer relationship.

The expectation is that this also opens up the opportunity for further cooperation on some of the above mentioned topics, including the import controls. Nevertheless, the expectation is that some of these topics will not be resolved before the provided timeframes and further disruptions and increase in cost for doing business in the UK are still expected.


For any questions, please feel free to contact:

Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,


DMS – the new Dutch customs declaration system

Dutch Customs is replacing the existing customs declaration services (AGS) with a new system called DMS. This is due to new legislation and regulations from the EU and is based on the EU Customs Data Model for digital customs declarations.

The initial plan was that DMS would be available for operators in the Netherlands in the course of 2022, but due to a number of issues this has been postponed. AGS will be phased in and for import and export declarations will remain available until 30 November 2023, whilst AGS for special procedures will remain available until 31 December 2023.

We note that NCTS will continue to exist alongside DMS. Declarations for the transit procedure can only be made in NCTS.

Key changes in DMS:

The data set in the customs software solution needs to be updated and communication protocol needs to meet the new standards. This also means that traders need to provide additional details in order for the customs declarations to be lodged and accepted.

Historically, Dutch Customs was able to make changes/edits in the customs declaration in the event of findings resulting audits of the declarations (e.g. for random checks upon entry). With DMS, this is no longer possible and the clearing agent and/or the trader will receive a ‘message’ reflecting the findings. 

The clearing agent and/or the trader are subsequently responsible to make these amendments in the lodged declarations or appeal the findings. 

This could potentially lead to delays in releasing the shipments.

The common practice in the Netherlands for simplified declaration procedures, entry into the declarants records, and filings for customs warehousing, inward processing relief, etc. (commonly referred to as the GPA and SPA) will disappear and will be replaced by filings into DMS. 

This means that companies currently using the GPA and / or SPA will need to ensure that the relevant data elements are lodged via DMS on a complete and timely manner.

Planning and timelines

DMS will be introduced in a phased approach. The intention is that the first couple of clearing agents will transfer to DMS on a pilot basis in the first and second quarter of 2023. Subsequently, companies that are filing customs declarations will receive notification from Dutch Customs regarding the transfer onto DMS, including suggested timelines.

The current end-date for transfer from AGS to DMS is set at 30 November 2023 for normal declarations and 31 December 2023 for current GPA and SPA filings. This indicates that Dutch Customs will no longer accept customs declarations via AGS after the mentioned dates.


Dutch customs encourages customs clearing agents and traders that lodge declarations themselves to work more real-time. Robust customs processes are therefore becoming even more important and the importance of IT support becomes increasing significantly.

If businesses want to smoothly start lodging declarations via DMS, it is pertinent that they actively and timely engage with the DMS migration process and organise their IT structure to ensure they are prepared to lodge declarations on a daily basis, or provide the information to their declarant who will lodge the declarations on their behalf.


For any questions, please feel free to contact:

Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,

HMRC clarifies Postponed VAT Accounting requirements

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU and the EU VAT regime on 31 December 2020.

As a result, the UK will introduce a Postponed Accounting scheme for import VAT. This scheme allows all UK VAT registered businesses to declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT Return, instead of having to pay it upfront via the customs declaration and recover it later. This will ease cash flow for businesses importing goods into the UK post-Brexit.

Using Postponed Accounting

From 1 January 2021, any UK VAT registered business (resident and non-resident) with a GB EORI number importing goods for use in their business can account for import VAT on their VAT return.

Although the use of Postponed Accounting for import VAT is not mandatory, businesses that decide to defer the submission of import declarations in the first six months of 2021, are obliged to use import VAT Postponed Accounting for imports in that period.

It seems logical to also oblige companies that import small consignments (not exceeding £135 in value), in using import VAT Postponed Accounting for those consignments. However, HMRC are yet to provide further guidance on the VAT treatment of such consignments.

Completing a VAT Return

The published legislation states that any VAT registered person may postpone the accounting of import VAT to its periodic VAT return, unless if this option is revoked by HMRC.

To use the Postponed Accounting scheme, importers simply need to ensure that their VAT registration number is shown on the import declaration.

Traders using Postponed Accounting can obtain a monthly statement of all their imports that were submitted from HMRC. The relevant VAT and VAT value details should be reported in the subsequent periodic UK VAT return as follows:

  • Box 1 – Total VAT due in this period on imports accounted for through postponed VAT accounting.
  • Box 4 – Total VAT reclaimed in this period on imports accounted for through postponed VAT accounting.
  • Box 7 – Total value of all imports of goods included on your online monthly statement, excluding any VAT.

Where a VAT-registered business chooses to delay submitting their import declarations and the actual import VAT value is not known yet, an estimate of the import VAT amount needs to be accountable in the relevant VAT return. An adjustment may be required when the import declaration is subsequently filed and the actual import VAT amount is different from the provisional calculation.

Non-VAT registered businesses

For non-VAT registered businesses, postponed VAT accounting is not available. They will have to pay any import VAT due via the customs declarations.


For any questions, please feel free to contact:

Arjen Odems,

Maartje Meijer,

The UK Global Tariff

On 19 May 2020, UK Government published the new UK Tariff schedule that will apply from the moment that the UK exits the EU.

The publication comes after a public consultation earlier in the year and the summary of the public’s as well as the Government responses can be found here.  The full UK Global Tariff schedule can be reviewed here and a full overview of the UK Tariff in CSV format is also available here.

The aim was to simplify the Tariff and tailoring it to the UK economy. The key principles for the new Tariff focus on the interest of UK consumers and business, encourage UK production as well as maintain and promote the UK’s international competitiveness.

The new UK Tariff schedule will apply from the moment that the UK exits the EU, currently planned for 1 January 2021 and that the existing EU tariff schedule will apply during the transition period. 

The key amendments that the UK will make to the existing EU Tariff include:

  • Simplifying the Tariff by removing tariffs on goods with low tariffs (below 2%), rounding tariffs to the nearest band and taking steps to simplify complex agricultural measures
  • Removing tariffs on nearly 2,000 goods where it is beneficial to lower the cost of imports for both producers and consumers
  • Retaining tariffs in several sectors to support UK businesses and meet the UK’s wider strategic objectives

UK Government have pledged that they will continue to review and improve the UK’s trade policy by means of continuous engagement with the public, key stakeholders, and advisory groups.

A key observation is that roughly 2,000 Tariff codes have been reduced to 0% and most others have been rounded down to the nearest band. Nevertheless, Tariffs still remain on the majority of Tariff codes and companies importing or planning to import products should continue to consider the new UK Tariff schedule as well as other customs facilities to manage UK customs duties.

Brexit – removal of easements

The election dust has settled and the new UK Government is taking shape. It is now becoming apparent that companies importing and exporting in the UK need to consider customs and customs compliance to its fullest extent.

The Government has recently confirmed their plans to introduce import controls on goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. Effectively all imports and exports will become subject to these controls, including the requirement to submit (full) customs declarations, also those arriving from EU countries.

It was also confirmed that the policy easements put in place for a potential no deal exit will not be reintroduced as businesses have time to prepare. Although no specifics were provided, the expectation is that the removal of duties for over 80% of products, the Transitional Simplified Procedure (TSP) and Import VAT postponed accounting mechanism will all be withdrawn from the EU Exit legislation and not return upon the UK’s exit from the EU on 1 January 2021.

The removal of these easements mean that companies may need to re-consider their Brexit readiness position and anticipate additional activities and cost for customs compliance as well as for deferment of duties and import VAT.

The press release from the Cabinet Office and the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP can be found here

Brexit consulting

Brexit: UK’s Future customs arrangements – a future partnership paper

After months of speculation, the UK has now published a position paper setting out the UK Government’s thinking on the future relationship with the EU. This paper, Future customs arrangements – a future partnership paper, is the first in a series of papers and focuses on UK’s aspirations for future customs arrangements.

UK’s Government acknowledges that UK traders are a key part of UK’s economy. Any new customs system should be as facilitative as possible to encourage growth in trade with the EU and the rest of the world. Furthermore, any arrangement should mitigate any additional administrative burdens or delays.

The EU Customs Union has formed the backbone of UK’s trade relationship with the EU for many years. UK’s  customs and trade provisions are fully integrated with the EU.  The options currently suggested by the UK would continue this strong relationship with the EU. It is based on ‘undisrupted’ trade between the UK and EU and simplifications for crossing borders or even removal of the need for a UK-EU customs border.  It should also provide the UK the possibility to pursue its independent trade policy objectives.

UK Government acknowledges that the ultimate customs arrangement will depend on the coming negotiation. Part of the strategy is the introduction of a transitional measure of close association between the UK and the EU. This help both sides to minimise unnecessary disruption. The paper indicates UK’s believe that the customs and trade relationship with the EU is critical and that they would likely require more time to achieve a realistic and acceptable solution.

This paper was welcomed by the EU as a positive step towards the negotiations. Furthemore, it provides valuable insights in the strategy and envisaged future relationship between the UK and the EU. However, the EU dismissed the paper within hours. Brussels noted that UK’s withdrawal from the EU – supported by the article 50 procedure – should be addressed first before the future customs relationship can be negotiated.

The next round of talks between the UK’s and EU’s representatives start later in August. It will soon become clear whether this paper will be considered in their negotiations.

For businesses, nothing has really changed yet.  Potentially the paper has created additional confusion and uncertainty due to the introduction of an interim solution before arriving at an end-state.

It is still pertinent for traders to understand the feasible scenarios and the impact these have on trade and operations in a post-Brexit situation. This will help in identifying key areas of attention, prioritise actions and resource as well as support in active engagament with government.

Introducing myself

After having worked for over 15 years in customs and international trade consulting with large consulting firms, Arjen established Customs & Trade Consultancy in 2016.

The aim of Customs & Trade Consultancy is to use Arjen’s international experience and passion for trade in providing importing and exporting companies with a pragmatic and pro-active approach in dealing with complex customs and international trade issues.

After finishing a tax law education at the University of Leiden in de Netherlands, Arjen started his professional career with Deloitte in the Netherlands. Subsequently, Arjen moved to an international role with Ernst & Young in London where he was the UK practise lead with overall responsibility for the global trade team leading various UK and international projects.

Arjen has great experience in the industry and is credible and reliable partner to advise small, midsize and large companies on customs and trade topics. His aim is to provide a flexible and solution oriented approach, which will allow companies the achieve the business objectives and improve the their compliance and effectiveness of the supply chain.

With the leadership roles Arjen fulfilled, he has built an extensive experience in various industries, including consumer goods and retail, automotive, manufacturing, logistics, life sciences and telecommunications.

Arjen’s passion is to help companies better understand the relevant requirements and allow them to maintain and permanently sustain a high level of quality and compliance. This will also allow the identification and implementation of cash (duty) savings as well as operational cost savings.