Sevington Inland Border Facility. Photo: Tim Sheerman-Chase / CC BY 2.0

Biosecurity concerns over post-Brexit border arrangements emerge amid fears of impending passport check disruption

Issues with the UK's Post-Brexit good border continue to make headlines some 8 years after the country voted to leave the European Union.

You can read this article in 4 minutes

Multiple press reports in recent days have highlighted two very different problems regarding the UK’s post-Brexit freight border arrangements. According to the Financial Times, there are still biosecurity concerns over the recently-introduced checks on food, plant and animal products being too light. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that officials in the newly-formed government are also worried about the potential delays the EU’s new entry/exit system could cause.

Light checks on food products from the EU

This year in particular, the UK’s goods border control mechanisms have undergone significant changes. The main change has been the introduction of sanitary checks on certain plant and animal products imported into the UK from the EU and elsewhere.

A report by the Financial Times claims that customs agents have raised concerns regarding a lack of stringent checks on animal and plant products entering the UK from outside the EU.

According to the Financial Times, the Sevington inland border facility, where compliance with the new regulations is monitored, has faced considerable challenges in implementing an effective control regime. It is said that this scenario has led to potentially risky products entering the UK market unchecked​​.

The Financial Times report alleges that communication issues and operational delays at Sevington have exacerbated the situation. The newspaper writes that goods that previously underwent rigorous inspections now often bypass these checks.

One customs agent told the Financial Times that even goods from Turkey, which should be subject to stringent checks, were cleared with minimal scrutiny. The agent also said that when they were asked for permission to bring a consignment of honey from Macedonia, they were told there would be no problem.

While this approach aims to streamline logistics and helps to prioritise flow, critics say such ‘light touch’ checks raise significant biosecurity concerns​​.

Further complicating the situation is a contingency measure introduced to mitigate lorry queues at ports. Named the timed-out decision contingency feature (Todcof), the measure allows goods to be cleared automatically after two hours, regardless of whether the necessary checks have been completed.

Potential delays from new EU passport and ID checks

Meanwhile, in addition to the issues with import checks, the UK logistics sector must prepare for another impending challenge; the introduction of new passport and ID checks by the EU in October.

As reported by The Guardian, these new checks are anticipated to cause significant delays at UK ports, further complicating the already strained post-Brexit trade environment.

The Guardian report claims industry experts have warned that the new regulations could create bottlenecks at border crossings, impacting the timely movement of goods.

The additional time required for thorough passport and ID checks will likely slow down the processing of both passenger and freight traffic. Given the high volume of goods that pass through ports like Dover, even minor delays can accumulate, leading to substantial disruptions in supply chains​​.

To mitigate these potential delays, logistics companies have been advised to plan strategically. This includes reassessing routing options, increasing lead times, and enhancing coordination with customs authorities.