Britain said on Friday it would introduce border controls in stages on European Union goods after the end of the Brexit transition period, to try to soften the blow for companies already battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Reversing an original plan to impose full border controls on imports coming into Britain from the EU from next year, the government said it would introduce the changes in stages up until July 1, 2021, giving firms more time to deal with paperwork.
Companies have long called on the government to give them more clarity about what new border checks will be in force at the end of this year, when the status-quo transition period with the EU ends after Britain left the bloc in January.
From January, traders importing standard goods such as clothes and electronics will need to keep sufficient records of imported goods but will have up to six months to complete customs declarations.
While tariffs will need to be paid, payments can be deferred until the customs declarations have been made, and companies will need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods.
From April, those importing all products of animal origin and plants will need to fill out forms and, by July, full checks will be in place for all traders and all goods.
The government is providing a package of 50 million pounds for recruitment, training and new IT equipment for those operating in the customs sector.
"Today's announcement is an important step towards getting the country ready for the end of the transition period, but there is still more work to be done," Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said in a statement.
The government added that it would build new border facilities for carrying out checks and provide support to ports which need to build new infrastructure.