Hauliers in the UK are being warned that Brexit customs controls on EU imports will start on New Year’s Day – after they were delayed three times before.
However, some business chiefs say that some small firms may struggle to deal with the red tape and raise the prospect of food rotting at UK and EU ports.
The customs controls will begin on New Year’s Day and will affect imports coming from the EU.
The changes will see firms based on both sides of the Channel now filling in more paperwork to bring goods in.
Complete customs declarations
Previously, a British firm had up to 175 days for them to complete any customs declarations, but this must now be done at ‘the point of import’.
The firm must also obtain a ‘rules of origin’ declaration to show whether the goods they have imported have been made in the EU.
In addition, any EU firm sending food or animal products to the UK must also ‘pre-notify’ British authorities with 24-hour’s notice.
The new customs controls do not apply to those goods that are entering the UK from Ireland after a recent government climbdown.
The new rules could see trucks arriving from the EU being diverted into a lorry park so customs officers can carry out physical checks.
Small firms may be less prepared
The new rules come after the transition period ended and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) are warning that small firms may be less prepared than larger organisations for the border changes.
William Bain, the BCC’s head of trade policy, told one national newspaper that if firms fail to ‘pre-notify’ food exports then some consignments may remain stuck at ports in the EU and will not make it to the UK for distribution.
He added that there is no evidence that the UK will see any shortages.
Though he does raise the prospect that if foods do get stuck in port, then they could spoil and need to be dumped.
He said: “Despite the message being out there for some time, the big companies seem to be prepared, but smaller suppliers we are seeing problems with and that’s the lack of capacity, knowledge and resources for them to comply.”
Problems may not occur on New Year’s Day
He added that while there may be problems, they may not occur on New Year’s Day but early next week.
A CBI spokesperson also raised the prospect on food supply chains with concerns over paperwork, rotting food, high costs and vet availability.
Other checks have also been delayed over business fears, including export health certificates that will not need to be in place until 1 July 2022.
Meanwhile, the government is urging hauliers to check which international road haulage permits they need for operating a vehicle with a GVW of more than 3.5 tonnes that are used on international journeys from the UK.
The original advice was published in 2012 and has just been updated.