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Blogs | 11 May 2023

Your guide to TOMorrow's UK border strategy

The goal of the Border Target Operating Model (TOM) is to ‘create the most effective border in the world’ in the UK, with an improved regime of sanitary, phytosanitary, and security controls on imports to reduce the complexity of the UK’s security, bio-security and public health border controls.

The UK Government along with the devolved Scottish and Welsh Governments have drafted the TOM to ensure there is enough time for those organisations importing goods into the UK to prepare for the regulatory changes. The implementation of the Border Target Operating Model will start October 2023 and continue through to October 2024.

The TOM applies to imports from all countries into Great Britain. The draft has been published to allow stakeholders to comment on the proposals before the final version is published in May or early June 2023.

Why is the UK introducing the Border Target Operating Model?

  • Improve and simplify the UK border
  • Categorise risks for certain commodities and countries (in development)
  • Improve safety and security controls
  • Reduce the complexity of UK border controls.

According to the draft, the TOM will:

  • Reduce the Safety and Security data requirements down from the current 37-field dataset to 24 mandatory fields. The remaining 13 fields will be optional
  • Make it easier to submit Safety and Security data through the UK Single Trade window
  • Improve the use of data by the UK Government to remove duplication (for example by allowing the use of Transit Security Accompanying Documents in place of separate Safety and Security and Transit declarations)
  • Remove Safety and Security requirements for the following categories of movement:
    • Certain outbound freeport goods
    • Outbound transit and fish from UK waters landed in non-UK ports

Proposed timeline

TOM timeline (1)


How will the changes affect imports for your organisation?

The classifications have been released (click here to view), so commodities will need to be checked for high, medium, or low risk.  Live animals, germinal products, products of animal origin and animal by-products will be categorised as high, medium, or low risk. The classification will be based on the risk that the commodity could pose to animal health and welfare, food safety and biosecurity, and public health. Risks specific to the country of export will also be taken into account. This means that depending on the country, the same commodity may be low-risk or high-risk. Risk categorisation is dynamic and subject to constant change, for example, a potential bird flu will mean certain animal products can't be exported from certain countries.

Import risk categories:

Businesses have six months to prepare for the new border controls. The categories announced in the TOM:

  • High risk: live animals, live aquatic animals and germinal products (with published exceptions for animals with additional safeguards or assurances or which present a lower risk) and commodities covered under safeguard measures
  • Medium risk: raw, chilled, frozen meat, meat products, dairy, animal by-products for use in animal feed, fishery products and aquatic animals imported as products of animal origin
  • Low risk: processed, shelf-stable products such as composites and certain canned meat products, processed animal by-products and certain fishery products and aquatic animal products from lower risk countries.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) have announced the full risk categories for sanitary and phytosanitary goods: animal and animal product imports from the EU to GB which you can find here, and plants and plant products from the EU here (further risk categorisation for goods from the Rest of the World will be published imminently.


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