LONDON (AP) – New post-Brexit customs rules for goods arriving from the European Union to Britain come into effect on Saturday, and a major food industry body has warned that new border controls could result food shortages.

From January 1, importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries. Businesses will no longer be allowed to delay the completion of full import customs declarations for up to 175 days, a measure that was introduced to deal with the Brexit disruption.

The British Frozen Food Federation said this week that new restrictions on animal and plant products from the EU could cause significant delays at ports over the New Years as some members of the chain procurement – especially logistics companies on the EU side – might not be prepared for the changes.

“We are concerned that there has not been enough planning to ensure that the new requirements are understood by everyone in the food supply chain,” said Richard Harrow, chief executive of the federation.

“With only a few days until the new rules, we remain concerned that January could be a busy month for our members,” he said.

The new measures require companies to fill out the correct paperwork at least four hours before goods can arrive at UK borders, or they risk being turned back at the border. Products of animal and plant origin must also be accompanied by certificates of origin.

While drivers must declare their goods and certificates of origin, checks are expected to be minimal until rules intensify from July 2022, when much stricter checks are expected to take effect.

The UK imports five times the amount of food it exports to the EU.

Britain left the EU’s single market and customs union on December 31, 2020. The new rules come into effect six months after they were originally planned due to the impacts of the pandemic and companies have said that they needed more time to prepare.

Northern Ireland and Ireland are exempt from the changes as political leaders continue to negotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol.


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