UK government publishes timber importer advice for no deal Brexit scenario

23 January 2019

The UK government has published advice for timber importers and exporters in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a bulletin “Advice on preparing for checks on timber as part of contingency planning” on January 22.

DEFRA said that delivering a deal with the EU remained the government’s top priority but it must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario.

It said in a no deal scenario, businesses importing timber and timber products from the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) and placing it on the UK market will have to carry out checks (known as ‘due diligence’) from day one of EU Exit.

These checks demonstrate they are importing legally harvested timber, helping to protect against illegal deforestation. Due diligence checks would involve:

• gathering information on the timber, including its species, quantity, supplier, country of harvest and compliance with applicable legislation

• assessing the risk of timber being illegal, applying set criteria in the regulations

• obtaining additional information or taking further steps to verify legality (for example testing or assessment of the supply chain)

“Businesses can either develop their own systems for these checks or use one provided by an approved monitoring organisation,” said.

“This is what businesses currently have to do when they import timber from the rest of the world.”

There will be no changes to the current process for businesses importing from outside the EU, UK producers first placing on the market, and internal UK trade.

As before, they will need to conduct checks to confirm their timber is legally harvested. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) – the body responsible for enforcement – has been working with companies involved in the timber trade to keep them informed about what they will need to do in a no deal scenario and how to minimise impacts to their business.

Read further guidance on trading timber: imports and exports if there’s no brexit deal.