Brexit Transition

From 1 January 2021, EU ports implement new customs and regulatory controls at their ports for goods arriving from Great Britain. The UK will phase in frontier controls over six months. We will keep this page updated with news on the impacts this is having at the UK border.


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January 4 Update: No reported significant disruption.

  • Volumes remain relatively low at most ports. This could be a result of those traders that are able to avoiding the first few days of new border requirements and/or as a result of the stockpiling seen in Q4 2019. As freight flows begin to increase in the coming days and weeks there remains potential for disruption at some ports.
  • We understand that hauliers arriving at ports are mostly ready in terms of documentation although this still takes time to process.
  • Import controls (i.e. UK border controls) are being phased in with only basic customs requirements currently necessary for inbound goods. New, more burdensome requirements will come into force for incoming goods in April and July. Therefore any issues that arise in the next few days and weeks will most likely be a result of exports and disruption at EU ports having a knock-on effect on UK ports (as seen when France stopped freight traffic arrivals for several days in December, for example).

December 31 Update: No reported significant disruption.

We expect there to be some disruption at some ports as new EU frontier controls come into force, although this may not manifest itself in the UK for several days due to the bank holiday and pre-Brexit stockpiling. Despite the welcome agreement of a free-trade deal between the UK and EU meaning that tariff and quota free trade in goods can continue, the UK is still leaving the customs union and single market, which means new non-tariff barriers to trade. Goods being transported between Great Britain and the EU, including Northern Ireland, will be subject to a number of new controls and requirements and there is no escaping the increase in costs that this will create for UK traders, businesses and potentially consumers. As our new trading relationship starts to bed down we are hopeful that an ongoing reciprocal acceptance of each other’s standards might mean a reduced need for inspections and interventions at ports and borders.