Brexit export chaos feared
The Road Haulage Association has warned that a critical Brexit IT system won’t be fully functional by January and the UK was heading for a “cocktail for potential disaster, with chaos on day one and for many days afterwards.”
The Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) is intended to allow export trucks to declare goods ahead of reaching the port, allowing for smoother traffic flow and avoiding congestion.
However, HMRC has yet to begin the build of the IT system and concerns are growing that it won’t be ready for when the Brexit transition period ends on the 31st December.
The new customs declaration system (CDS) is already been behind schedule and was not ready by the time the UK left the EU in October 2019, because software developers have had to upgrade the processing capacity of the old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF),
Industry groups said they were only notified about the system in the past fortnight and unlike France who completed the build of their system some months ago, the UK has not even been able to test its new customs system.
Under the government’s Brexit plans, lorries transporting goods from the UK to the EU will need a GVMS reference number before they can board the ferry or EuroTunnel.
The GVMS reference number will be obtained digitally by pre-lodging specified load information and checked by customs officials at locations that are yet to be specified, but away from the port.
The fear is that GVMS won’t be ready and trucks will be subject to stringent checks by customs officials in Calais and elsewhere in the EU from January, creating chaos and delays that will filter back into the UK.
France took well over a year to develop and test its own IT system for checks brought about by Brexit, whereas HMRC is trying to create its own in just six months.
The French system was trialed a number of times before being deemed sufficient.
The GVMS will also cover customs checks on goods heading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from next year.
The heads of two Northern Irish ports told the Northern Irish assembly’s infrastructure committee they were doubtful that the GVMS would be ready in time.
An 89-page consultation document circulated by the Government to trade groups said operators would have a choice of a “pre-lodgement” model – where trucks carrying goods could file their paperwork electronically away from the port – or temporary storage where there was warehouse space.
A page for detail on the import process and pre-lodgment model was left blank.