How does the BTOM affect my shipment of plants to the UK?

The new rules set out in the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) mean UK customs will check your shipment more strictly when it enters the UK. This check is done on paper and physically. It can mean a longer wait at the border post and extra costs.

The BTOM is a process through which the UK government tightens border controls and sets import requirements. It is being introduced in several steps. For some products, this now means physical checks at the UK border. For example, for vegetables, fruit, dairy, and plants.

New rules: physical checks for products

The UK government is introducing the new rules in steps. On 30 April 2024, a new rule came into effect. From this date, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and plants will also be physically checked. By doing so, the UK government hopes to prevent diseases from entering the country.

Longer waiting times

The physical check is done by the British organisation DEFRA at special border posts. This is called a Border Control Post (BCP). Before 30 April 2024, the check was usually done at your customer’s premises. With the new rules, you must send your shipment via one of the designated BCPs. These checks may delay your export shipment.

Higher costs

These checks also create additional costs. DEFRA says that a check costs a minimum of £29 per type of product. The cost is a maximum of £145 per shipment. For example, if you send several plant species per shipment. The importer pays these costs. Or if you deliver using Incoterms® DDP, you pay these additional costs yourself.

The next phase of the BTOM goes into effect on 31 October 2024. Exporters from the EU will then have to submit a security declaration before shipping products to the UK.