The UK Target Operating Model - What you need to know

The UK Target Operating Model (TOM) is a part of the 2025 border strategy. Originally proposed in 2020, this initiative has a few objectives: 

– redefine the British border following Brexit.
– evolve processes with the adoption of digital.
– make the border more efficient.
– heighten security whilst empowering compliant traders.

But, how will this affect traders like you? Find out in this article.

What is the purpose of the new UK Target Operating Model? 


The UK left the European Union in 2020, with import and export customs clearance required on all goods since January 2021. 

However, the border model that is being used still has remnants of European Union policy. This is why, in 2020, the 2025 UK Border Strategy was proposed to transform the British border into one that better-suits the nation in a post-Brexit capacity.

The UK Target Operating Model is a part of the 2025 UK Border Strategy, seeking to both replace the current model and upgrade it to adopt digitalisation and real-time data – allowing for heightened security without hindering trusted traders.

Following the approval of the proposed UK TOM in August, Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, said:

“Our Border Target Operating Model will ensure more efficient trading for businesses, protect against biosecurity threats and further crack down on illegal imports such as firearms and drugs.

“By making maximum use of data and new technologies, our innovative yet risk-based approach is key to delivering a world-class border system. Once fully implemented, these important post-Brexit measures will, I believe, bring considerable benefits to the UK economy and to UK trade, and the Government stands ready to support businesses through this transition.”

How will the UK Target Operating Model be introduced?

The UK Target Operating Model will be introduced in three phrases:

Phase 1 – January 2024

Animals and products of animal origin (POAO) will require prenotification on the Import of Products, Animals, Food, and Feed System (IPAFFS), with higher-risk shipments requiring further checks. Risk will be categorised as low, medium, or high. You can see the TOM risk categories for your goods here.

Phase 2 – April 2024


Medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU will be subject to document and risk-based checks. Inspections will move from the destination or port to Border Control Posts (BCPs). 

Phase 3 – October 2024

Safety and Security declarations will become mandatory for import customs clearance for EU-originating goods. However, a reduced dataset and the use of the Single Trade Window will allow traders to submit data for these declarations without added hassle.

Need help preparing for upcoming changes?

Universal Customs Clearance provides customs clearance for all major ports in the UK, working to stay ahead of changing legislation so that we can keep your business moving uninterrupted. Contact us for more information on the UK Target Operating Model. 



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