Higher charges and more red tape: How will Britain’s new border model affect dairy imports from Europe?

The UK’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) – post-Brexit Britain’s new border model, comprising a set of security, control and safety rules for import goods – is finally being phased in, starting Wednesday, January 31. 

How are common EU dairy commodity imports classified under the new risk-based system?

Chilled or frozen dairy products that contain raw milk (e.g. Roquefort)
Infant formula, follow-on formula, FSMP and baby food

Non-raw dairy products, frozen or chilled (e.g. cheese and butter made with pasteurized milk)
Ambient dairy (e.g. UHT milk)

Information correct as of January 30, 2024. For revisions, check gov.uk​

This means that imports of animal products, live animals, plants and other agri-food products will be subject to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks, a new control mechanism designed in line with global border requirements to maintain and safeguard biosecurity. Additional customs procedures will also start to apply to EU imports at later dates, and goods have been categorized according to three risk categories:

  • low: unlikely to be subject to routine documentary or physical checks and only require a commercial document from the supplier;
  • medium: more likely to be subject to physical and documentary checks, must have a health certificate, the importer must notify the UK authorities before the goods arrive in Britain, and after April 30, the goods must travel through specific border control points; and
  • high: physical checks are mandatory, plus the requirements for a health certificate and a pre-arrival notification.