Extension of Border Operating Model deadlines is no surprise, says BIFA


“It’s no surprise that the Government has extended the deadline for the introduction of checks and customs declarations on imports to the UK from the EU,” says Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

“The experience of our members since January 1st 2021 has clearly shown that large sectors of the trading community have not been prepared for the changes in processes brought in by phase one of the Border Operating Model.

“As the trade association that truly represents the UK’s freight forwarding businesses that manage a large proportion of that trade, we have expressed significant concerns regarding phases two and three of the Border Operating Model; and various Government departments have been unable to provide satisfactory answers to many of these.

“One of the most significant unresolved problems to date relates to Delayed Declarations”, adds Keen, “something that BIFA has repeatedly warned is a regime that invites non-compliance. Extending the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, to January 1st 2022, just adds to the real danger of non-compliance.

“The news that government will continue to engage extensively with businesses to support them to adjust to the new requirements already in place and to prepare for the new requirements to come is also welcome. But, actions speak louder than words, and of late, other than departments that BIFA deals with on mainly operational matters, Government has not been talking to trade and we are not aware of any recent meetings of the Border Protocol Delivery Group.

“Today’s announcement is clear evidence that political decisions have been made previously that, as we have repeatedly stated, have paid no regard to how visible international trade and the frontier works and what can actually be controlled.

“It is also proof that the uncertainty caused is of no use to anyone involved in managing the UK’s visible international trade.

“It was no surprise to hear that Government was considering the unilateral application of grace periods by the UK on EU to GB trade, so today’s announcement is welcome, but equally, not surprising.”