British firms face the introduction of much-delayed post-Brexit border control checks from Jan. 1 which will affect businesses importing $314 billion of goods a year from the European Union.
Britain left the EU's single market at the beginning of 2021 and while Europe imposed checks on goods straight away, Britain staggered and delayed the introduction of a full customs border.
From Jan. 1, 2022, EU businesses sending goods to Britain will now need to supply full customs declarations while traders will also have to prove that goods are allowed to enter tariff-free under rules of origin requirements.
Martin McTague, vice-chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), warned the switch to import checks was likely to cause significant disruption at a time when trade is already being hit by Covid supply chain problems and labour shortages.
"Our own research found a third of small business importers were unaware of the changes, while among those who did know this was coming, only one-in-four was prepared," he said.