Under the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) plans, “transitional simplified procedures” would be introduced for ferry routes from Europe, and for the Channel Tunnel, for at least a year if the UK leaves without a deal. Lorries will be able to drive straight off ferries and Channel Tunnel trains without making customs declarations in the event of a no-deal Brexit and firms would file a simplified form online in advance and pay duty later.
- • These would allow an importer to file a very short customs form - a “simplified frontier declaration” - only two hours before a lorry is due to cross the Channel by ferry, or one hour via the Channel Tunnel.
- • The truck would then be able to drive straight into the UK without any further paperwork being done at the border.
- • The importer would have to update the computer entry within 24 hours to tell HMRC the goods had arrived, and the duty would be payable as much as a month after the shipment had entered the UK.
- • The temporary system would be reviewed after three months, but is expected to last more than a year.
- • The latest guidance applies only to vehicles entering the UK, but additional customs checks may also be introduced for EU-bound lorries arriving at Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk in the event of no-deal.
Transport through Kent
The biggest concern is that lorry traffic across the English Channel through Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal near Folkestone will grind to a standstill. To manage that, Highways England, Kent County Council and Kent Police have come up with Operation Brock - a plan for parking up to 13,000 trucks.
The first 2,000 will park on the southbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions eight and nine, 6,000 more will be moved to Manston Airport, and if that is not enough then the M26 will be used to hold another 5,000.
Other shipping routes
If Dover and Folkestone suddenly become slow and unpredictable ways of getting goods in and out of the country, the government is hoping other routes to Europe will take more of the traffic.
Saying “a situation of extreme urgency exists”, the Department for Transport is paying a total of £107.7m to three ferry companies to run extra ships.
Port companies such as Associated British Ports (ABP) have been improving the infrastructure at ports away from Dover in anticipation of increased traffic.