As many people will now know the UK Government has decided to delay the implementation of its staged controls on imports for Brexit. But is it all that it seems?

On the 11 March 2021 the UK Government laid out a new timetable for introducing import border control processes on the stated basis to provide UK businesses with further time to prepare for changes at the border and minimise disruption as the economy gradually reopens. 

The extension was said to be seen as important with the government recognising the scale and of the challenges businesses have been facing in adjusting to the new customs requirements for Brexit, at the same time as dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. 

And whilst the cynical may point to the lack of infrastructure and agency readiness as a driving consideration the fact that staged border control processes will now start to be introduced on 1 January 2022, six months later than originally planned, was almost unanimously welcomed.

For those importing products of animal origin, animal by-products, high risk food and plant products then indeed a further delay is good news.

  • Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin, certain animal by-products, and high-risk food will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for Products of Animal Origin and certain animal by-products will come into force on the same date.
  • Physical Sanitary and Phytosanitary checks for Products of Animal Origin, certain animal by-products, and high-risk food will now not be required until 1 January 2022. At that point, they will take place at designated Border Control Posts including any new locations that are ready.
  • Physical Sanitary and Phytosanitary checks on high-risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than as currently at the place of destination also from 1 January 2022.
  • Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates, will be required for low-risk plants and plant products from 1 January 2022.
  • Then from March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low-risk plants and plant products.

Then in terms of customs declarations also some good news for carriers and hauliers in that Safety and Security Declarations for imports from the EU will not be required until 1 January 2022.

We also understand that the need to use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service for imports from the EU and exports to the EU will also be deferred until 1 January 2021; although it’s use between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and for goods moving under Transit is still required today.

However, it is the news that the deferred or delayed customs declaration scheme has been extended to 1 January 2022 that is causing some confusion.

Many have taken this to mean it is possible to not make customs declarations until 1st January 2022. This is not the case. The scheme allows eligible traders to defer submitting supplementary declarations up to 175 days after the goods have been imported.

This means for goods imported on 1 January 2021 they still require a supplementary declaration lodged by a trader or representative authorised for simplified procedures by the end of June 2021. The extensions means that where goods arriving on 1 July 2021 would have required a normal customs declaration or a supplementary declaration by the 4th working day of August if imported under authorised simplified procedures those too can be delayed for up to 175 days.

It is also important to note that the delayed declaration process cannot be used for controlled goods or traders who have a poor compliance record. It does though mean that the mandatory pre-lodgement model for all goods imported at ports not operating temporary storage will also be delayed until 1 January 2021, with pre-lodged declarations being optional or only for those traders or goods ineligible for the delayed declaration process.

As the extension does not remove the need to submit customs declarations from the end of June 2021 for goods already imported then businesses who have not made arrangements for these supplementary declarations need to do so.

If businesses either traders or intermediaries are looking to become approved for simplified procedures, then it is important to note that HMRC advise applications should be made 120 days before you need to make your first supplementary declaration. This means business should have applied by the end of February 2021. If you haven’t then you may need to find an intermediary or partner to submit on your behalf even if temporarily.

Many companies are choosing though not to delay customs declarations for a number of reasons including that they still need to capture and submit additional VAT reporting without the benefit of a C79 or Postponed VAT Accounting certificate and the fear of building a backlog of declarations that at some point will be combined with the current month declarations.

Finally, when submitting customs declarations traders should remember that just because goods have been shipped from the EU it is not sufficient to claim duty free import under the UK EU Trade Cooperation Agreement; you must ensure the goods meet the necessary rules of origin as with any free trade agreement – whether you are an importer or exporter are you familiar with what those rules are, do you know what the landed cost will be if the goods do not meet them?

See or contact us today ( to discuss what you need to be ready to submit your supplementary declarations or to import under non delayed declarations processes.

For those that are concerned about completing customs declarations then be aware the UK government has also announced a SME Brexit Support Fund that could give you up to £2,000 to help with training.

Northern Ireland

The UK has also announced continuation of simplifications in Northern Ireland prompting legal action from the EU and risk to the yet to be ratified Trade Cooperation Agreement where the deadline has already been extended to the 30 April 2021.

There are two main areas that have been extended:

Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI)

The UK has announced that the STAMNI arrangements for Authorised Traders will continue beyond 31 March 2021 until at least 1October 2021.  This means Authorised Traders can continue to move products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI) without the need for official certification.


For post and parcel carriers then again, the easement has been extended until at least October 2021. This includes.

  • No declarations for goods less than £135
  • Declarations over £135 can benefit from delayed declarations

Whilst B2B movements will see these temporary arrangements end on 1 October for B2C and C2C movements business will have 6 months from the date of the publication of the relevant guidance on how these goods should be handled.

Although these can now include UK excise paid items, for any consignments containing prohibited or restricted goods then a declaration will still be required.

In addition, the Trader Support Service (TSS) has begun extending its service to include Simplified Frontier declarations for controlled goods from 8 March 2021 and begun submitting supplementary declarations for imports including those already moved under Entry in the Declarants Records (EIDR) processes.

If you choose to you can submit your own NI Safety & Security notifications, CDS Customs Declarations and Goods Vehicle Movement System declarations via Descartes’ e-Customs application – See our demo videos at Brexit Solutions

If you are a trader look to see if you can register for the UK trader scheme to help avoid “at-risk” EU duties – Learn more here

Click here for further information around Brexit and Customs Clearance

Written by Martin Meacock

Director, Product Management