5. 1.2. The new Safety and Security model

5.1 Background

Safety and Security declarations support our fight against illicit goods such as drugs and weapons entering the UK from abroad. Safety and Security declarations help to ensure that interventions at the border are based on risk. The level of data collected needs to be proportionate and sufficient to support risk-based assessments, balancing the needs of national security with the burden placed on traders to collect and submit the data.

As a signatory to the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) SAFE framework, the UK has requirements for Safety and Security declarations. These have applied to imports and exports from non-EU countries since 2011, and Safety and Security export declaration requirements commenced for exports from Great Britain into the EU on 1 October 2021. Since EU Exit, the EU has required Safety and Security declarations on imports from GB.

The UK Government introduced a temporary waiver for EU imports into Great Britain due to concerns about trader burdens, lack of trader readiness, and potential disruption for critical trade routes and supply chains exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ability to collect Safety and Security data from goods originating from or crossing the EU represents a post-EU exit opportunity. Enhancing our intelligence on imported goods will help Border Force to keep citizens safe from the most harmful goods brought into the country. It will also minimise disruption at the border by supporting a more intelligence informed approach to risking and intervention, as well as facilitating the flow of legitimate trade by reducing the number of ‘false positive’ hits.

5.2 How we have responded to stakeholder feedback

As a result of the stakeholder feedback received on the draft Border Target Operating Model, we have made the following changes and additions to the model for Safety and Security controls:

  • Included an updated and refined dataset, which clearly sets out mandatory, and optional fields, as well conditional fields
  • Included a new section to clarify existing arrangements with regards to liabilities and responsibilities for safety and security declarations

It has not been possible to respond to all stakeholder requests. In particular, the carriers and the logistics industry requested further facilitations for some types of inbound movements, notably the removal of safety and security declarations for empty containers. We have considered the balance of security, compliance and facilitation and have concluded that S&S declarations should be retained for empty movements.

5.3 Ending the waiver for Safety and Security declarations for EU imports

  • Ending the waiver for Safety and Security declarations on EU imports, as well as other territories where the waiver is in place, will introduce an important tool in our fight against serious and organised crime. The UK Government will therefore implement the requirement for Safety and Security data to be submitted for goods arriving in Great Britain from the EU in October 2024.[footnote 1] Once implemented, we expect to see more accurate targeting, facilitating the flow of legitimate trade. Those who export from Great Britain to the EU, or import from Rest of World, are already required to make Safety and Security declarations now.

Whilst our new model seeks to minimise trader burdens as far as possible, we are aware that for some (for example those who only import from the EU), the ending of this waiver will result in a completely new requirement to submit Safety and Security declarations. We will continue to engage with industry over the coming months so they can start meeting these new requirements.

5.4 Developing the new regime

We have reviewed the current Safety and Security model starting from first principles. As we move towards an increasingly digital border, data collection is essential for ensuring targeted interventions, enabling the flow of legitimate goods. We have developed a new model focused on gathering, analysing and utilising data deemed as most critical to security. The new regime continues to uphold and deliver on the objectives of the World Customs Organisation’s SAFE framework, whilst balancing the needs of national security with the burden placed on traders.

As part of reviewing the model, we explored how technology could streamline the process of submitting Safety and Security declarations for traders while providing a richer data set to the UK Government. Through the Ecosystem of Trust pilots, we tested how data insights and new technology can reduce border frictions, and reviewed how supply chain data could replace traditional Safety and Security declarations. These pilots are informing the design of the UK Single Trade Window, particularly regarding plans for it to have the capability to collect and process supply chain data and share it with government systems in the future, which could provide more accurate and timely data for performing government risking operations. This has the potential to both better secure the border and deliver more frictionless trade. A full evaluation of these pilots has now been published.

5.5 Detail of the changes within the new model for Safety and Security

For detailed User Journeys for Safety and Security products that incorporate the changes under the new model, please see Annex B.

Reduction of the Safety and Security data set

The UK Government has assessed ENS (Entry Summary) data required for Safety and Security purposes, and will reduce the quantity of data which is required following a comprehensive review of the data fields. This reduction will apply to all imports from anywhere in the world into Great Britain.

Following stakeholder feedback on the draft Border Target Operating Model, the dataset requirement has now been amended. There will be 20 mandatory fields, which are security-critical and allow our targeting system to function. There are also up to 8 conditional fields, which need to be completed in certain circumstances. The remaining 9 data fields will be optional, but can be voluntarily submitted. Completion of the optional fields will reduce the chance of legitimate goods being held at the UK border because it will improve Border Force’s ability to risk the goods. Further detail, including the conditional fields and when they need to be completed, is set out in Annex A.

This approach ensures those businesses already set up to import from non-EU countries, or those submitting voluntarily on EU movements, do not need to make any changes to their existing systems or procedures if they do not wish to. Those businesses who will be required to complete Safety and Security declarations for the first time when the EU waiver ends can choose to complete only the mandatory and any relevant conditional fields.

Over the coming months, we will continue to work closely with carriers, including through our regular engagement channels, to ensure they understand and are able to comply with the requirements. This will include providing updated specifications for the dataset, with sufficient notice for any changes required. We will also provide updated guidance on GOV.UK once the reduced dataset comes into effect, with clear information about the new requirements, to promote a high level of data quality to ensure legitimate trade is not held up unnecessarily. We are also ensuring that existing routes for addressing carriers’ queries and technical issues are working optimally.

All advance Safety and Security data for Great Britain movements will be risked through the existing S&SGB system, as well as the Home Office’s system, Cerberus. Cerberus is the future solution to holistic targeting at the UK border which will allow Border Force to network and analyse diverse cross modal transactional and contextual datasets in real time, recognising Organised Crime Groups operate across modes and commodities and improving targeting effectiveness.

5.6 Improvements to the way Safety and Security data is provided


In line with existing practices and international standards set out in the WCO SAFE Framework, the legal requirement to submit an Entry Summary declaration will remain with the operator of the active means of transport, referred to as the carrier. As set out in our existing guidance, this means:

  • For goods travelling by rail, the carrier will be the rail freight operator
  • For goods travelling by air, the carrier will be the airline
  • For goods travelling by maritime, the carrier will be the shipping company
  • For accompanied RoRo, the haulage company will be responsible for submitting the declaration
  • For unaccompanied RoRo, the ferry operator will be responsible for submitting the declaration

A party other than the carrier, such as the importer or an intermediary, can lodge the declaration (with agreement) on the carrier’s behalf. Following stakeholder feedback, we will keep the safety and security guidance available here under review, in particular to ensure clarity on existing requirements for those who will be submitting declarations for the first time when the EU waiver ends. We will continue to work with carriers to ensure they are able to meet the requirements.

In the longer term, the introduction of the UK Single Trade Window will also make it easier for multiple parties to contribute to a single declaration, with each submitting the data they hold. Further information can be found here.

Data Provision

Currently, carriers importing into Great Britain are required to submit Safety and Security declarations into S&SGB, a dedicated system, which requires specialist software to connect to it. The data issued to the UK Government is often duplicated throughout the consignment’s journey as it is required for different purposes.

Through the UK Single Trade Window, we will seek to eliminate duplication in customs processes. We intend to simplify the submission of data by enabling traders and intermediaries to meet their import, export and transit-related obligations by submitting information to Government once and in one place. This data will then be reused across other declarations – relevant information can be passed on to the departments who need it. This reuse of data will ease the previous administrative burden of having to provide the same information multiple times for the same movement. The UK Single Trade Window will expand this approach to include the principle of unifying pre-arrival data across more submissions, including across Customs and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) declarations.

The UK Single Trade Window will give traders and intermediaries the option to self-serve the processes for licences, authorisations and customs import, export, transit and Safety and Security declarations required to trade internationally. UK Single Trade Window functionality will be delivered iteratively through strategic releases, and will provide:

  • A user interface that will provide a single route for users to complete customs and Safety and Security declarations online through the UK Single Trade Window. This will be available for free. Over time, this will encompass current self-declaration capability, such as Defra’s Import of Products Animals, Food and Feed Systems (IPAFFS) pre-notification. As further functionality becomes available, Single Trade Window will provide:
  • The ability to share and collaborate on declarations with supply chain partners. This includes the ability for a trader to provide an agent or carrier with the information that they hold (about the goods, the volume of goods, etc.) and for this information to be used across all declarations relating to the consignment.
  • Explicit measures to inform users about data sharing/reuse, and safeguards against increased commercial risk (due to other actors being able to see some data whilst reusing it).

The first UK Single Trade Window strategic release, which will be made available for public use ahead of October 2024, will focus on providing public facing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and a user interface for Safety and Security Import (ENS) declarations and Customs Import declarations, allowing traders to submit their declarations without requiring specialist software. Further detail on the functionality of the Single Trade Window is set out in Section 4.

When it is first introduced, the UK Single Trade Window user interface will also start to provide additional functionality such as reusing trader identification data and declaration data where this is already held by the UK Government or within the trader’s Single Trade Window account.

In the longer term, as functionality and the ability to share information develops, the UK Single Trade Window will aim to enable all information required to import and export goods to be submitted to border agencies through one system, further simplifying the process for traders. This will mean that traders can complete all advance customs requirements, such as pre-lodged customs requirements, Safety and Security and Sanitary and Phytosanitary requirements, without needing to use several different systems.

5.7 Improving the use of data by the UK government to remove duplication

Transit procedures allow for customs processes to be suspended whilst goods move through multiple customs regimes. However, there is currently still a requirement for Safety and Security declarations to be made for movements through different customs territories.

The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) Phase 6 (currently scheduled for implementation across all Common Transit Convention countries in 2025) will allow functionality to enable use of Transit Security Accompanying Documents in place of separate Safety and Security and Transit declarations. This will mean that when moving goods through other countries which have opted into adopting Transit Security Accompanying Documents, traders using transit will only need to submit one Transit Security Accompanying Document for a transit movement – unlike currently, where Safety and Security declarations need to be submitted for every customs territory crossing.[footnote 2]

Further information on the treatment of transit movements under the Border Target Operating Model can be found in Section 1.4.

5.8 Removing Safety and Security requirements for low risk export movements

By 20 December 2023 we will introduce additional waivers for a number of specific low risk movements to start reducing trader burdens as soon as possible. In the following circumstances, Safety and Security export declarations will no longer be required:

  • Outbound fish
  • UK law currently requires Export Summary Declarations (EXS), otherwise known as Safety and Security exit declarations for fish caught in UK territorial seas and landed outside of the UK. These movements do not pose a threat to UK security and therefore the Safety and Security requirement is not proportionate. We will remove this requirement to reduce trader burden.
  • Outbound transit movements
  • In cases where goods are moved through Great Britain under transit, and a Safety and Security Entry Declaration (ENS) has been made within 14 days, we will waive the requirement for an Export Summary Declaration (EXS) to be submitted. These movements can be safely managed using the data on the Entry Declaration (ENS). We see this requirement as duplicative and therefore will remove it.
  • Outbound freeport goods
  • In cases where the advance Safety and Security information remains available and valid, and the goods have been at the freeport for less than 14 days, we will waive the requirement for an Export Summary Declaration (EXS) to be submitted for goods exported from Great Britain.

Further details on how we are improving the experience of exporting are set out in Section 5.

5.9 Fast Parcel Operators

All Fast Parcel Operators will be able to benefit from the new model, in particular the reduced dataset, submitting only the mandatory and any relevant conditional fields.

Those Fast Parcel Operators who were operating Anti-Smuggling Nets to meet Safety and Security obligations before the end of the transition period can continue to use them until the government provides further information on when Anti-Smuggling Nets will be phased out. We will engage industry as we develop our future plans and give sufficient notice ahead of any changes. Engagement will begin this year in September.

Express operators, who do not use Anti-Smuggling Nets, should continue to meet their Safety and Security obligations on rest of world imports and exports as they are required to do now. They should prepare to provide Safety and Security data on EU imports in line with the new requirements set out in this model.

Our engagement on future plans for Anti-Smuggling Nets will include consideration of how we can utilise technology to streamline the process of submitting Safety and Security declarations for all traders, including Express Operators.

5.10 Safety and security declaration amendment process

Previous engagement with stakeholders indicated that in the fast moving ‘Roll on Roll off’ (RoRo) environment, some hauliers do not have all the required Safety and Security information to submit a declaration 2 hours before goods enter Great Britain, as is currently the rule for short sea journeys. Safety and Security declarations must be as accurate and complete as possible when submitted. However, amendments can be made if something changes, for example, the amount of goods or the time of the sea crossing. The existing Safety and Security declaration amendment process caters for these situations – guidance can be found here.

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