Tuesday, January 19, 2021

For Drivers Facing Brexit Confusion Help is Available

UK Advice Sites for Covid and Document Checks
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – For drivers of vehicles headed to the Continent with freight the new rules brought in to accommodate the Brexit protocols are still proving difficult for many. The government has published a list of advice sites at which drivers and crew of HGVs, LGVs, coaches and vans can get free Covid-19 tests and border readiness checks before transporting goods to the EU.

The bulk of advice centres are situated at motorway service stations and truck stops, with most open between 6am and 10pm, 7 days a week. A dozen of these however were not offering Covid tests at the time of going to press.

Despite all the publicity the Road Haulage Association (RHA) recently advised members that there are still a few issues causing many of the problems on UK export lorry movements via France that are causing delays and lorries to be placed in ‘orange’ lanes.

Drivers directed to the green route will travel onwards out of Calais without interruption, but those sent to the orange lane will be sent into an on-site holding area for further checks. The RHA highlighted five main issues it is aware of that can be addressed by operators and others to help smooth the flow of goods.

  • Common Transit Convention Box 51 (office of transit into EU) is often being left blank in the departure declaration. That results in the lorry being given an ‘orange’ lane on arrival Solution Enter the correct Office of Transit in the departure declaration
  • Common Transit Convention Box 51 (office of transit into EU) is incorrect in the departure declaration as a result of a change in the place of arrival. (Generally, this is where a lorry changes ferry at last moment between Calais and Dunkirk). The original box 51 is then wrong, so the truck will always be given an ‘orange’ lane. Currently, even changing it on the system results in the lorry being given an ‘orange’ lane Solution Put correct Office of Transit in the departure declaration and avoid changing destination if at all possible, between Calais/Channel Tunnel and Dunkirk
  • SPS Goods Many shipments are arriving in France without pre-notification in TRACES, or with insufficient pre-notification having been given. (Some SPS goods can be given a ‘green’ lane on arrival if appropriate pre-notification is given) Solution Ensure TRACES notifications are done in accordance with the pre-notification rules for the goods being shipped
  • SPS Goods Exporters do not always give the driver the original paper Export Health Certificates to travel with the goods. It is best practice to have the originals as these can be demanded by Customs officials on arrival in the EU. If originals are required, the truck will not move until originals are provided. Delays can be days, or lorries may be returned to the UK. Until a digital system is put in place the paper certificates must be in the position of the driver Solution Provide original Export Health Certificates to the driver when goods are collected
  • SPS Goods A designated agent is needed at the arrival place (port or tunnel) to handle the SPS paperwork on arrival in France. Many trucks are moving without this being arranged by the traders/logistics providers in advance. It will avoid long delays if the agent is in place in advance. (Note that there is a shortage of agents) Solution The haulage operator should ensure that a known agent is in place, complete with contact details, before the lorry attempts to cross into France. This is a rapidly changing picture and further advice will be provided as soon as possible

Drivers additionally of course need proof of an authorised negative Covid test, conducted within 72 hours of travelling across the border. Those operators using Kent ports MUST be in possession of a Kent Access Permit and hauliers using the Short Straits (Port of Dover or Eurotunnel) must also use the 'Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border' service to:

  • apply for a Kent Access Permit
  • check the paperwork needed to cross the border between Great Britain and the EU via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel

Fines are being imposed of £300 for not using the service when travelling via Kent or producing a fraudulent declaration. Hauliers who arrive at ports without the correct Import and Export documents will be turned away.

For any driver unlucky enough to test positive for the virus a confirmatory PCR Covid test is essential. These are available one of the NHS Testing Facilities. Drivers who fail will not be able to leave the UK, or access any UK port until they have done so or have isolated for 10 days.