Brexit equals more red tape for hauliers

Dover, UK: Trucks will need clearance from customs before leaving the UK under proposed government plans.

Trucks will only be able to carry goods into the EU if they have a valid reference from the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, a new and untested computer platform under development, according to a document circulated by Revenue and Customs.

Hauliers will need to file the correct customs paperwork electronically in advance to get approval. The government plans to stop trucks without clearance from reaching ports although it has not said how this will be enforced.

“British exporters will be the biggest losers from this,” said Naomi Smith, chief executive, Best for Britain, a pro-EU campaigning group. “Additional bureaucracy threatens to clog up our trade arteries.”

The UK government has a poor track record when it comes to new IT systems and this one risks yet more delays for exporters. “We are regularly engaging with industry as plans develop, in particular with regard to a new IT system that will facilitate movement at the border,” HMRC said in a statement. It did not specify when the new IT system will be ready or whether it will be tested before use.

The system is part of government plans to eliminate checks on paperwork at ports. In the case of Dover, there simply is no space to park vehicles and check documents. The government is creating a so-called ‘pre-lodgment model’, where documents are submitted electronically in advance.

“We have designed a new alternative model” that will “achieve full customs control on EU goods from July 2021 whilst recognising the practical realities of high-volume EU-facing locations with limited space to physically hold goods,” HMRC said in the document.

The government has been criticised by logistics firms for its failure to detail post-Brexit border plans. The industry has six months to prepare for changes and still has no details. The Cabinet Office said it will set out plans for the border in mid-July, and plans a “shock and awe” advertising campaign to urge businesses to prepare.

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