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Border Force prioritising security checks on medical equipment

16 April 2020

THIS MONTH, Border Force has introduced a new process for prioritising security checks on medical equipment to ensure that it reaches the NHS more quickly. The new process ensures critical shipments are flagged to Border Force in advance by the NHS such that officers can stand ready to process them as soon as possible. Border Force officers then process the shipments quickly, while still continuing to conduct thorough security checks.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “I will do whatever's necessary to help the national effort to tackle Coronavirus. This is why Border Force is prioritising medical equipment so that it can enter the UK as soon as possible. In turn, this ensures that NHS and other front line workers can access the equipment they need and continue to fight the virus and, ultimately, save lives.”

The new process has been in place since the beginning of April. Border Force is working closely with suppliers, the NHS and HMRC to ensure all relevant shipments are flagged.

In addition, last week the Treasury announced that it was waiving import taxes on medical equipment crucial to the fight against Coronavirus, thereby reducing red tape and ensuring that equipment finds its way to the frontline health workers at a much faster pace.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, asserted: “We have already waived import taxes on crucial medical equipment coming to the UK, such as protective gear, testing apparatus and ventilators. The Government's announcement will further support the NHS such that front line workers have the support they need to treat people and save lives.”

All shipments remain subject to the same controls including checks against illegal immigration, prohibited and restricted items and revenue fraud.

Border Force will continue to support the essential services provided by the NHS during this period for as long as is required.

This is one measure being brought in by Border Force in response to the Coronavirus outbreak and is part of wider robust contingency plans put in place to ensure there's no disruption to their efforts designed to maintain national security.