The UK’s shipping industry is essential for ensuring the secure transportation of materials, goods, and passenger travel both within the UK and worldwide. The shipping industry also delivers other vital services, such as offshore energy infrastructure, aggregates and towage.

In 2022 14.2 million passengers travelled to and from the UK via ship, while 69.5m tonnes of freight – such as cars and vehicle equipment – and 73.5m tonnes of cargo – anything from bananas to bicycles - transited in and out of the country.

To maintain our position as a driving force behind the UK economy, several challenges need to be overcome.

UK Border Strategy 2025: charges for medium-to-high risk animal and plant health inspections at Border Control Posts (BCPs)

We believe that there should be no advantage in using government-run BCPs against other privately-run BCPs in a way which could distort international trade and logistics routes. To reduce the risk of route distortion, the UK Government should set a universal charging mechanism for medium-to-high risk animal and plant imports inspections for all Border Control Posts (BCPs). Setting such a charge will help ensure that logistics costs of implementing those inspections are spread evenly and do not give undue advantage for certain routes that could lead to a lack of supply trade resilience in the UK. 

Single Trade Window and Borders

The introduction of the single trade window has the potential to transform how businesses interact with UK border processes and reduce administration costs. It is vital though that the system is fit for purpose, but especially for those goods travelling sub-two-hour routes via the English Channel and goods accompanied by lorry drivers.

The current requirement to submit safety and security declarations for goods transiting through short sea routes is two hours before arrival. However, the missing information about which ship the goods are on will not yet exist before that deadline for international routes that take less than 2 hours; for a 90-minute international sea voyage (Dover – Calais), a lorry will drive onto a specific ship after the deadline of two hours before arrival. Post EU exit, the UK is free to make this change, as it is no longer subject to the two-hour time-limit for short sea routes within the European Union Customs Code. 

Passenger Immigration Experience

Both the UK and EU will roll out additional border requirements for travellers in the coming months.

With many major UK ports located within towns or cities, there is little room for expansion, meaning that accommodating the infrastructure needed for these additional checks is challenging. Current EU plans will require biometric data collection at the border, and this may significantly disrupt the movement of maritime passengers. For ships that also carry goods as well as passengers, any delays to passenger movements will also cause delays to those goods. This poses major difficulties for the juxtaposed border controls that exist between the UK and particular EU countries.

Alongside engagement with the EU to reduce passenger checks at the border it is important that the UK Government works with the shipping and port sectors to agree a manageable introduction period of the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme for pre-travel authorisations. Specifically, we need to ensure that it is not implemented at the same time as the EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) or the EU’s pre-travel authorisation scheme (ETIAS).