The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said that imports from the European Union will not be subject to additional checks at UK ports in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.
In the past months, freight companies have warned that leaving the European Union without a deal would result in miles-long queues at major ports such as Dover because of the possibility of additional customs checks on the thousands of lorries that enter the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on the 29th of March, less than two months’ time from today. The said date has been left hanging in the balance after the defeat of the Brexit deal of Theresa May last month and the subsequent opening of the discussions with the European Union over the issue of the Irish backstop.
Today, the HMRC said that it had transitional procedures for the import of goods from the European Union through 20 British ports and the Channel Tunnel, which it would review three to six months following the scheduled exit date of the United Kingdom.
It stated: “For a temporary period, HMRC will allow most goods moving from the listed roll on roll off locations to leave the UK port or train station before you’ve told us that the goods have arrived.”
It said that the importers must notify HMRC by the end of the next working day that the goods have arrived in the United Kingdom, and businesses must register for the simplified import procedure which will enable them to transport goods in the United Kingdom without having to make a full customs declaration at the port or later and paying any duty.
Under the current rules for trading with the rest of the world, the goods will not released from customs control until a full import declaration is made and the duty is accounted or paid for.
The executive director responsible for trade at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Ronan Quigley, said that it was “reassuring” that the HMRC has introduced the transitional arrangements in the event of the “unwelcome scenario of no deal.”
He added: “The priority of business communities across the UK is to avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit on 29 March.”
He continued: “In the unwelcome scenario of no deal, we have been fighting long and hard to avoid prolonged checks at the border and gridlock on our motorways. In the case of no deal, it is reassuring that HMRC are introducing these transitional simplified procedures, which will make importing easier by simplifying the declarations at the border and postponing the payment of import duties that would otherwise be due.”
He noted: “These letters to business are important communications and government must do everything it can to let firms know what they’ll need in terms of new documentation to trade with the EU. Many businesses are still in the dark about the benefits of gaining an EORI [economic operator registration identification] number in order to maintain continuity of trade if there is no deal – these letters help to highlight their importance and the need for traders to take action.”
However, Geraint Davies MP for the Best for Britain campaign said: “They said we would take back control of our borders but now the plan is to wave things through irrespective of our safety. We’ll have no idea what is coming into our ports.”