New import controls were implemented on 30th April 2024. This email provides operational information updates on the BTOM, including:

  • How to avoid customs holds due to ‘no match’ errors
  • Use of verifiable PDF health certificates
  • Resources to help you comply
  • Contact points for urgent BTOM queries

How to avoid customs hold due to ‘no match’ errors 

Defra and HMRC cross-check information provided by importers in their Part I CHED and customs declaration. You must add the correct import notification (CHED) reference, the correct document code and customs declaration reference, and commodity code into the customs declaration for the consignment. This information is provided by IPAFFS at the end of each import notification.  

If any errors are not fixed before the consignment arrives at the port of departure, the consignment will be subject to a customs hold at the port of arrival.    

To help you avoid unnecessary delays to your consignments, Defra and HMRC have produced a step-by-step video and technical information sheets on how to prevent and resolve a ‘no ‘match’ in the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

Use of verifiable PDF health certificates 

As of 31st January 2024, verifiable PDF’s can be used for live animals and products of animal origin (POAO) imports from EU and EFTA countries where the PDF health certificate can be electronically verified.  

These certificates must be created directly in either Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) or an equivalent EU/EFTA Member State’s National sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) Export System. The PDF certificate downloaded from TRACES or other approved EU/EFTA country systems must be uploaded to Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS). A list of nations we are accepting verifiable PDF certificates from is available at Countries Great Britain will accept validated PDF GB health certificates from – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If the exporter creates a GB health certificate as a verifiable PDF using TRACES or another EU/EFTA Member State system, they will not need to send the original (paper) health certificate with the consignment.  

They must send the official, verifiable PDF certificate to the importer once it has been signed by the competent authority. The importer is responsible for creating the IPAFFS notification and uploading the verifiable PDF. 

Please be aware that the easement period for sending scanned copies of health certificates, including original paper certificates and verifiable PDF’s is temporary. Upon its expiry, if a trader uploads a scanned copy of a health certificate, they will be required to present the original paper certificate or verifiable PDF to the Border Control Post (BCP) on arrival. A Part II CHED will not be generated until all relevant checks on the original document presented at the BCP have been undertaken. To avoid unnecessary administrative burden and allow for a smoother flow through the BCP, traders are strongly encouraged to adopt verifiable PDF health certificates today. 

If a paper certificate is used it must bear the signature and stamp of the certifying officer. Verifiable PDF certificates must bear a valid digital signature. You must also check attestations are completed in accordance with the model certificate ‘notes for completion’ and all non-applicable attestations are correctly deleted or omitted from the certificate. 

Deletions carried out by hand must be initialled and stamped. If completed electronically as a verifiable PDF the signature and stamp per page is sufficient. 

Resources to help you comply   

Defra’s detailed guidance has been updated with information on how to comply with your new legal responsibilities for:     

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