What is the Border Target Operating Model?

The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is a document that presents the government’s new approach to importing into Great Britain.

It introduces simplified customs measures on security controls, sanitary and phytosanitary rules (which set out food, plant and animal standards), and outlines how these will be digitised through the implementation of the Single Trade Window.

The BTOM uses a risk-based approach. Animals and animal products are categorised as high, medium or low risk. For example, live animals are categorised as high risk. Examples of medium risk products include milk, eggs, fish products and meat for human consumption. Low risk products include honey, canned pet food and processed manure!

Key milestones

31 January 2024

  • The introduction of export health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. Check import risk categories here.
  • The removal of pre notification requirements for low-risk plant and plant products from the EU.

30 April 2024

  • The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.
  • Existing inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to Border Control Posts.
  • Simplification of imports from EU countries. This will include the removal of health certification and routine checks on low-risk animal products, plants, plant products from non-EU countries as well as reduction in physical and identity check levels on medium-risk animal products from non-EU countries.

31 October 2024 

  • The requirement for Safety and Security declarations for imports into Great Britain from the EU or from other territories will come into force from 31 October 2024 as set out in the original Target Operating Model.
  • The introduction of the UK Single Trade Window will mean traders can input border data into a single, online portal which brings together all of the border government departments, therefore removing duplication of data.

The Single Trade Window

The Single Trade Window (STW) will provide a simplified, secure digital gateway where traders and intermediaries will be able to meet their border obligations by submitting information to Government in one place.

A key principle for the Single Trade Window is the streamlining of data submissions to make life simpler for users by collecting data once, redistributing it to where it is required and reusing it where appropriate.

It will be introduced through a series of strategic releases throughout 2024, each one adding greater functionality and delivering an improved user experience, whilst incorporating feedback from earlier iterations. It is estimated to be available for wider use in October 2024. The STW will ultimately become the single entry point for users to submit border data to border agencies.

Useful links

The Border Target Operating Model

An introduction to the Single Trade Window

HRMC imports/exports helpline

About the author

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Emma Rowland,

Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors

Emma leads on the IoD’s policy work on international trade and EU affairs. She works with UK businesses, trade bodies and the government to advocate on behalf of IoD members on issues relating to the UK’s trading relationship with the EU, Free Trade Agreements, supply chain disruption and geopolitics.

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