What changes to UK SPS border controls will be introduced in 2023?

After leaving the European Union on 1 January 2021, the UK introduced restrictive measures related to hygiene and phytosanitary (SPS) controls at its borders. The aim was to supervise the import of animals, plants and derived products. However, from the end of October 2023, phytosanitary controls will be stepped up. It is crucial that importers and exporters prepare for the new import rules, which will take effect later this year. It is worth ensuring that all partners in the supply chain are properly oriented and prepared for the potential changes regarding imported goods from the European Union to the UK. In the summer of 2023, TOM risk categories will become available for products coming from outside the European Union. For plants and their derivatives, this information will be available on the UK Plant Health Information Portal, known as the UK Plant Health Information Portal.

What is TOM?

The TOM, or Target Operating Model, is used during the border transport of products for which phytosanitary inspection is required. It is used to determine the degree of risk for products such as live animals, substances of biological origin, zoonotic products and animal by-products. It sets out how controls can be simplified, transferred to the digital world and progressively implemented through the UK's new single trading window system. It has been developed with a range of stakeholders and through collaboration between the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as working with officials from the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland.

Risk categories in the TOM model

If you are importing foodstuffs, live animals, animal products, plants or plant products from the European Union into the UK, you need to consult the Target Operating Model risk levels now to be prepared for upcoming changes in border procedures.

We can divide the risk levels for the transport of animals and zoonotic products into 3 categories:

For the low-risk category, it is sufficient to export goods by reference to the IPAFFS system.

Regarding the medium and high risk categories of goods under the Target Operating Model (TOM) in the context of export, a health certificate may need to be issued by the competent authority in the country of origin.

Products classified in the high-risk category under the TOM are already subject to physical checks upon import. This rule will also start to apply to the medium-risk TOM category from 31 January 2024.

If you have any questions or concerns about the functioning of the increased SPS controls, please contact us and we will certainly answer all your questions related to this topic. As an experienced team of brokers, we are constantly undergoing training in order to keep abreast of current developments.