Border operating model: Airfreight explained

Alex Veitch

The government recently updated its Border Operating Model (BOM) document, which provides useful, plain-English information on how to navigate the post-Brexit border arrangements, including those for airfreight.

With European Union (EU) goods now treated as Rest of World goods since January 1, there have been significant changes to customs control requirements.

And, as explained in the BOM document, under the new requirements, all locations that facilitate the loading and unloading of freight must now hold a customs approval which demonstrates they have sufficient compliance facilities, customs control processes, site security, record keeping, health and safety measures for HMG staff and HMG access to amenities.

Prior to January 1, it was expected that the majority of airports that handle freight from outside the EU were already approved as designated Customs & Excise airports, with the appropriate infrastructure and processes needed to meet the new requirements to EU freight already in place.

Some airfields/airports – such as smaller aerodromes – were categorised as non-Customs & Excise airfield/airports but were permitted to operate a Certificate of Agreement (CoA) since January 1. However, from January 1, 2022, any airport that receives freight from, or dispatches freight to, locations outside of the UK will need to be designated as a Customs and Excise airport.

As a result, non-Customs & Excise airports/airfields currently operating on a CoA will no longer be able to handle freight unless they seek further approval or become approved as a Customs & Excise designed airport, meeting the standards for full customs controls.

Also mentioned within the BOM document is the termination of Flight Trucks and the suggestion that to avoid UK duties, traders might want to consider using Customs Transit.

The document also goes on to explain the movement of goods under the Common Transit Convention (CTC).

In the view of Logistics UK, this information is timely and useful, however it also indicates the challenge that Brexit continues to pose to the air cargo system.

Logistics UK is working with government on briefings through EU stakeholder groups and business networks to support this, and is confident there should be minimal, if any, disruption to air cargo in January 2022.

As shown in the document, the airfreight sector is highly complex, and while it has adapted to meet the new Brexit arrangements since leaving the EU, Logistics UK is encouraging all members of the sector, and all involved in the supply chain, to read, and continue reading, the BOM to ensure they are fully informed to allow the smooth movement of goods across borders.


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