Elise Elan, Market Development Director – Future Borders at Capita discusses how the use of artificial intelligence (AI) can help to simplify border procedures.

The Border Target Operating Model released in August outlines innovative controls for establishing a world-class border through enhanced data and technology utilisation.

With the suspension of controls coming to an end, new policies are being rolled out, notably impacting food, plant and animal product imports.

In order to ensure both commercial and government compliance, essential documents such as waybills, invoices, bills of lading, and health certificates must be submitted, along with specific data in relevant IT systems to notify enforcement authorities about imports to Great Britain.

When dealing with exports, duties and customs procedures for exporting goods must be checked to ensure that rules and restrictions, taxes and duty rates, and the required documents are all in order. This plethora of information, advice, forms, and IT systems demand a systematic approach and dedicated resource.

Enter AI – a tool adept at accessing, querying, and learning to streamline decision processes, resulting in enhanced efficiency, accuracy, and compliance.

We set out below two examples developed with partners to eliminate trader barriers:

Conversational AI for streamlined information access

When importing goods into the UK, goods fall into high, medium, or low-risk categories, each requiring notifications, certificates, and potentially inspections, as detailed in the government’s step by step guide to importing goods into the UK. 

In collaboration with AMI, we’ve designed a customised journey using conversational AI Models to simplify traders’ navigation through the government website. This involves extracting pertinent information through straightforward questions, reducing the complexity of the process and making it less daunting. AMI can also help identify gaps in website content, so customers can easily find out want they want to know vs what's available.

This example conversation illustrates how this could be deployed as a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) AI chatbot:


Hi. Thanks for starting a chat. How can I help you today?


Hi can I bring pork to the uk from the US


If you want to bring pork from the USA to the UK, it has to be treated so it doesn’t look like fresh meat anymore and meets the animal health rules applicable to exports of fresh meat into Great Britain.

You need to upload a form called the Common Health Entry Document and a health certificate issued by your local authority to IPAFFS.

When your pork arrives in the UK, it will go through a special checkpoint. Make sure the checkpoint you use is the right one for your product. You can find the right checkpoint on this interactive map

Please don’t forget to keep the original health certificate with your pork.


Conversational models can also help provide concise answers in plain language, as illustrated in this example based on potential HMRC content:


Hi. Thanks for starting a chat. How can I help you today?


What are temporary admission goods?


Temporary admission goods are things you bring into the UK for a little while, and then plan to take out again later. You don’t have to pay any import fees for these items, unless you keep them in the UK longer than the allowed time limit.


A list of goods that can be declared as temporary and their time limits can be found here.


Empowering the future

Customs and border procedures are complex and specific, making AI and conversational AI invaluable. The presented solutions are tried and tested across a range of sectors, and their scalability is apparent.

Furthermore, there’s huge potential for automation, which can be applied to documentary checks, resource management, and compliance checks. In anticipation of the upcoming new policies for SPS imports and Safety and Security Declarations, LLM and conversational AI will be integral to solutions for proactive compliance tools as well as operational solutions that will benefit traders and competent authorities alike.

The envisioned gains in efficiency, accuracy, and data integration capabilities hold the potential to strengthen stakeholders’ ability to meet policies and enhance compliance standards.


Get in touch to delve deeper into the government’s approach to streamlining customs and border procedures through AI, conversational AI, chatbots and automation:

This article first appeared in Tech UK

Written by

Elise Elan

Elise Elan

Market Development Director

Elise Elan is an accomplished market development professional drawing on her experience in different sectors including technology, financial services, education and the public sector. Elise is currently focusing on HMG Future Border programs, building client value proposition and building an ecosystem of technology providers to support government implement solutions for a frictionless border.

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