The Digital Frontier: A UK Perspective on 'Levelling-Up' Customs

Level Up Customs (Image: a teal ventilation unit like a level-up portal in a game)

The UK is investing in its systems and infrastructure at an unprecedented rate, and the digitalisation of your supply chain is now more important than ever. But, where are the upgrades being implemented, and what will this mean for you?

How the UK Government is investing in infrastructure and innovation

Since Brexit, the UK Government has kept the theme of “levelling up”. Their objective is to accelerate development in areas that are outside of London, the southeast of England, and Northern Ireland. The scheme has 12 targets to reach by 2030, including:

  • Developing public transport infrastructure across the country, bringing the standard closer to that of London.
  • A 40% increase in funding for research and development in the public sector.
  • Nationwide gigabit broadband with 4G coverage as standard, with the majority having 5G coverage.
  • Devolution to regional governments, allowing local authorities to make decisions on what investments to make for their respective areas.

These four areas of the Levelling Up scheme are aimed at improving the connectivity of the UK. The cost-of-living crisis has further accelerated plans for growth, with the UK Government announcing that infrastructure development will be fast-tracked. This is so that invested funds can get the best results now before inflation hinders results.

Implementing fast, 4G broadband is essential for the transmission of information and will be the framework for the Single Trade Window – the UK’s live-data system at the core of the 2025 border model.

The Single Trade Window will require standardised data to be input for your shipment, which will then be shared with all customs authorities at once – reducing the need for duplicate entry. However, correct data processing and compliance will be essential for benefitting from the system.

In addition to processing standardised data on your shipments, the Single Trade Window will incorporate the Ecosystem of Trust (if the pilot is successful), and introduce the EU food checks that were delayed in July 2022.

Finally, the UK Government has created freeports across the UK. These have already attracted investment from port authorities and private companies.

How are ports investing in the UK’s infrastructure and digitalisation?

The Customs Declaration Service and Single Trade Window both rely on data, so ports around the UK need to improve their digitalisation to facilitate them. Ports also need to be prepared for the biometric requirements for passenger crossings as part of the 2025 border model. This makes their investment in digitalisation a priority.

Felixstowe, the UK’s largest port, has already integrated 5G earlier this year through one of the government’s grant schemes. The upgraded system has allowed Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to be fitted to ship-to-shore cranes to better understand the stresses of day-to-day use, and provide real-time safety feedback for scheduling maintenance and reducing downtime.

The Port of Dover is also preparing to upgrade the infrastructure around the port, for both passenger and freight purposes. A priority is the improvement of data connectivity to facilitate the biometric requirements of both the UK and the EU. With the stabilisation of port-pandemic tourism, the port is expecting volumes of passengers to increase and needs to be ready. Dover has also revived plans for a logistics hub and rail terminal connections with the western dock.

Both confirmed and proposed freeport sites have attracted investment, with a focus on net-zero, data, and innovation – increasing the potential for developing newer technologies.

How will the UK’s digitalisation affect your customs clearances?

With data becoming more important for the UK border, and others around the world, working with a customs broker dedicated to staying ahead of digitalisation in the supply chain is essential.

Customs Support is leading the industry in data integrations, providing end-to-end digitalisation of customs data across the UK and EU. Our revolutionary systems are already working with standardised data that streamlines the process for both your import and export clearances, requiring only one submission of the data instead of two.

We are ready to adapt to new data requirements in the UK, maintaining an accurate, compliant, and timely service, always. Contact us for more information on how we can help you keep up with digitalisation today.