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Britain delays full Brexit import border checks until Jan. 1

Britain delays full Brexit import border checks until Jan. 1
The British government announced Thursday that it would delay plans to fully impose border checks on imports following Brexit until Jan. 1, 2022. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

March 11 (UPI) -- The British government on Thursday extended the timeline to introduce border checks related to Brexit, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government announced that it will not require firms to file customs declarations for imports until Jan. 1, six months later than originally planned, allowing goods from European Union nations to freely pass through.

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In a statement on Thursday, the government said the change would allow businesses additional time to prepare for the changes brought on by the border checks and minimize disruption as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are confident that this new timetable will allow import businesses to re-establish their trading arrangements after a difficult period due to coronavirus, in the most straightforward and lightest touch way possible," Cabinet Office Minister David Frost said.

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Shane Brennan, CEO of the Cold Chain Federation, told Bloomberg that businesses across the food supply chain "will breath a sigh of relief" upon hearing the news.

"Ensuring shops, restaurants and cafes have the supplies they need will be a vital part of helping them respond to unpredictable consumer demand," said Brennan.

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After finalizing plans to leave the EU in late 2020, restrictions on imports from members of the 27-nation bloc took effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

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Britain elected to implement the border checks gradually but had planned to have them all in place by July.

Northern Ireland and other countries in continental Europe, however, imposed full customs controls on British exports at the beginning of the year, resulting in shipment delays, lost revenue and a drop in freight volumes.

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