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Common user charge at Dover and Eurotunnel to drive food prices up

Updated: Apr 16

Last year, the UK Government said to have consulted extensively with industry about changes into importing regulation including the 'common user charge' set by ministers for the main Channel port of Dover.

Industry and trade groups claim that government failed to listened to their concerns about these charges driving food prices up, which will subsequently discourage EU producers from exporting to the UK as of 30th April 2024.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that that charges will apply to all consignments entering the UK via government-run border controls at Dover and the Eurotunnel, which handle the bulk of UK food imports.

Reacting to details of the common user charge being introduced on animal and plant product imports into the UK later this month, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: 


“This is an extremely disappointing decision by Defra on the common usage charge. The level of import charges shows scant regard to the interests of both businesses and consumers.  


“A flat rate fee for bringing most animal and plant products into the UK is a hammer blow for small and medium sized importers. It’s also deeply concerning for retailers, cafes and restaurants.  


“Importing a small consignment of goods with only five different meat, poultry, egg, milk or some fish products in the medium risk category will now face a bill of £145 per package under these proposals.  


“The clock is ticking to 30th April when these charges will come into force. We urge the Government to reconsider their import charge plans in the coming days. Failing to do so risks higher prices for us all, at a time when we should be bearing down on business costs and food price inflation.” 

Susana Córdoba, Head of International Trade at GM Chamber also added:

We want to hear from members and businesses in the Greater Manchester Region who are involved in the importing of food via Dover and how they will be affected. We know this only adds to the already increasing challenges faced by traders in the UK and impacting ultimately on consumers. If you wish to share your story with us, please email us at

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Sources: British Chambers of Commerce, Financial Times

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