The Road Haulage Association has warned that a critical pre-lodgement Brexit IT system won’t be fully functional for the end of transition, with the potential for chaos on day one and for some time after.
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 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.
Whatever EU import and export processes the UK government finally implement, we can manage all your customs, safety and security obligations and our systems will transmit the required declarations to customs authorities at the borders, to keep your cargo moving.
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 GVMS will also cover customs checks on goods heading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from next year, but the heads of two ports told the Northern Irish assembly’s infrastructure committee they were doubtful that the GVMS would be ready in time.