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Customs and border changes for UK importers from 31 January

On 31 January, HM Revenue & Customs are introducing a range of post-Brexit changes that will affect UK importers. Here is a summary of the key changes and what businesses or their agents will need to do:

  1. End of Import Licence Waiver Document Code

Relevance: All UK importers

The document waiver code 999L is being withdrawn from 31 January 2024 for import declarations.

Up to now, HMRC have allowed the use of a ‘universal waiver’ when an imported or exported product is not subject to any licence-based tariff controls. On the old CHIEF declaration system this was LIC99. On the Customs Declaration Service, this appears as 999L in Data Element 2/3 of the import declaration.

From the end of January 2024, the universal waiver is being withdrawn. This means either you or your import agent will need to confirm the individual status for each control measure and the accompanying licence that could apply – on a per commodity code/item basis.

The replacement codes are available here:


Measures List:

This change will mean that an import may require several different document codes per item to achieve the same effect of using 999L.

If 999L is entered on import declarations after 31 January 2024, the declaration will not be cleared, risking delay at the border. If an import declaration has been pre-lodged prior to 31 January 2024, the import will also be rejected until the document code is corrected. Importers and their agents should begin using the correct waiver document codes in place of 999L immediately to avoid this happening.

The 999L change affects imports only. It is expected that the 999L waiver will still be available for export declarations until 31 January 2025.

When using an import agent, they should be able to identify the relevant codes but may use the opportunity to ask you to re-confirm whether any additional controls, licences or document codes apply to your imports. If your business submits its own declarations, you should review the new codes now to avoid disruption.

  1. Border Target Operating Model – Certification

Relevance: UK importers of goods subject to sanitary or phytosanitary control

From 31 January 2024, new controls will be introduced at the UK border to control the import of sanitary and phytosanitary goods.

Three new risk categories – low, medium and high – will be introduced to govern the import of animals, products of animal origin, plants and plant products.

Distinctions in risk category will be made based on the country of origin of the imported product. Certain EU relaxations will be removed.

Animals and products of animal origin 

All goods appearing in the medium or high risk category will require an export health certificate. An import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) notification will be required at the border to allow clearance.

Plants and plant products

All medium and high risk plants and plant products will require a Phytosanitary Certificate (PC) and a notification to the IPAFFS system.

Risk categories:

Animals and products of animal origin:

Plants (EU, Liechtenstein and Switzerland):

Plants (other countries):

Further controls will be introduced later this year. On 30 April 2024, further documentation, physical and identification checks will be introduced at designated border control posts. On 31 October 2024, safety and security declarations for EU imports will be introduced. 

  1. Imports via an Irish port

Relevance: Importers of goods (including Northern Irish goods) directly from a port in the Republic of Ireland

From 31 January 2024, some goods will face full customs controls when moved directly from Irish ports to Great Britain.

Goods exported directly from an Irish port to the UK will be subject to full UK import processes on arrival.

Northern Irish goods that are imported into the UK from an Irish port will also have to complete import processes if they are any of the following:

  • non-qualifying Northern Ireland goods
  • excise goods
  • goods which do not move directly to an Irish port once they have left Northern Ireland

If you would like assistance with any of the above changes, please do not hesitate to contact the PKF Francis Clark Customs Team, who will be happy to assist: [email protected].

Mike is an Indirect Tax Consultant specialising in Customs Duty and International Trade. He assists clients with solutions to all manner of customs queries and… read more
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