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Eu and UK Truck separated by a cliff

Deal or No Deal – and as yet we don’t know – the road ahead is changing. Brexit is a reality, and the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. What should haulage firms, importers and exporters in the UK do to prepare?

Exactly how things will look on 1 January 2021 is still unclear and we recommend you keep a close eye on the evolving Government Brexit transition guidance.

In a recent survey in the UK by CiLT, 82% of members involved in trade with the EU said they were concerned about the Transition Period ending. Worryingly, 31% said they had made little progress with preparations since the start of the year. Given events of 2020, this is not surprising – the industry has more than had its hands full with pandemic-related issues.

Many of the things consumed in the UK come from the EU. Indeed, in 2019, the EU was the UK’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 47% of trade.

Around one-third of the UK’s food is imported from the EU, and many food imports are time-critical, or they spoil. Failure to reach a Trade Agreement in the coming days will likely lead to both delays and price increases, according to Vincent Smith, Assistant Professor in Law Economics and Human Rights at ESCP Business School.

No time for head in the sand

One thing is certain: ignoring the issue will not make it go away. Doomsday predictions abound but the reality is the situation is evolving, guidance is sketchy and at present, no one knows exactly how things will look on 1.1.21.

Lorries cannot just carry on as they did before. The Road Haulage Association makes clear that ‘No lorry should attempt to cross the GB-EU border without complete border paperwork.’

Anyone importing or exporting goods between Great Britain and the EU needs to understand the new processes as outlined in The Border Operating Model. Decisions must be made about how goods will be moved, who will move them and who will submit paperwork (including customs declarations) on behalf of importers and exporters. These are now urgent.

Hauliers must be prepared

It’s likely you have already made changes to your operation in anticipation of the end of the transition period. If you haven’t then it is time to begin! We have summarised below the key headlines for UK haulage operators. However, this is not intended to be a full guide.

The RHA has produced a comprehensive step-by-step guide which is an overview of key decisions which need to be made. Logistics UK has also produced useful information for member Transport Managers about Road Transport and RoRo changes and procedures.

As of 1.1.21, changes brought about by Brexit will impact the operation of the whole of your business, including:

Your Operations

  • UK hauliers travelling to or through the EU may require a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit for some journeys – this is not yet clear but operators are recommended to apply anyway. More information can be found here.
  • Hauliers must register commercial trailers over 750kg and all trailers over 3,500kg to drive them through some European countries. Abnormal loads require a Keeper’s Certificate.
  • Operators are recommended to use the Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service to check and prove they have all the paperwork they need to cross the GB border in an HGV.
  • You must use the above service for HGVs travelling via Dover or Eurotunnel and additionally obtain a Kent Access Permit – or be subject to a £300 fine.
  • You need to be familiar with the many different rules for moving goods to and from different EU countries.
  • In the event of an accident, any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle will need to be brought in the EUor EEA country where the accident happened. You might have to make your claim in the local language.
  • Operators must be aware that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid and advise (or provide) drivers to obtain appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover.

It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure drivers fully understand the changed procedures and know which documents to present at each stage of the journey.


Your Drivers

  • Will need to carry vehicle registration documents (either the V5C Vehicle Log Book or VE103).
  • Will also need to carry a UK License for the Community (which replaces The Community License, which is being phased out) with them when driving abroad.
  • May need a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) for driving in Europe.
  • Will need to carry a valid passport with six-months or more remaining.
  • May also need immigration permissions but this is still to be confirmed by the outcome of negotiations.
  • Thankfully, a UK Driver CPC will remain valid on all journeys made by UK operators.

Your Vehicles

  • Will need to display compliant GB stickers (even if the number plate has a GB identifier)
  • Must carry a Motor Insurance Green Card – one for each vehicle or trailer. Contact your insurer to receive these.

Customs Changes

Another major change is that Customs Declarations and safety and security declarations will be needed for import and export across the UK-EU border. These are the responsibility of the trader who must provide the haulage company (and driver) with the correct documents. HMRC anticipates annual transactions will increase from around 50 million to well over 200 million, and with a shortage of customs agents, you do need to ensure your clients are prepared.

Specific loads, including foodstuffs and live animal imports and exports, may also require extra certifications. Indeed, the RHA reports that in some cases up to 30 pieces of information and documentation may be needed!

There are four options for moving goods across the border. These are Pre-notification, Common Transit Convention (CTC), Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) and Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR). Each of these will require a Safety and security declaration, although these will be waived for the first six months, until 30 June 2021.

More information and a checklist of customs documents for each of these can be found on the Government Website.

To make things more straightforward, many traders will opt to use a third party such as a customs agent or logistics company offering Customs Brokerage, such as long-term CameraMatics customer McCulla Transport.

One step at a time

Although there is a lot to do, there is still time to make preparations. Many of the above-outlined steps are fairly straightforward and starting late is better than not starting at all.

The good news is, some things aren’t changing. Wherever your vehicles are – in the UK or the EU, your CameraMatics system will work as normal and continue to protect your drivers and make your fleet sa
fer, smarter and more efficient.