The ‘smart border’ and its implications for trucks transporting goods across the UK – France border after Brexit
(Taken from a webinar entitled ‘La Douane Vous Accompagne – Franchissons le Brexit ensemble’, or ‘Let’s cross Brexit together!’ given by the French Directorate General of Customs and Indirect Duties.)
The French and British customs departments have together created a ‘smart border’ to be used at all ports through which traffic between the UK and France passes. This border solution uses a sophisticated IT system to ensure that no extra stops will need to be made by vehicles transporting goods across this border after the 1st of January, 2021. The new IT system will also ensure that the same system is in place for every port, and that the customs process will continue to be free.
The primary aim of the customs teams who have created this solution was to meet the legal obligations of both the UK and EU, while maintaining the fluidity of traffic across the border. To this end, they worked on the basis of the existing system: trucks already have to stop to pay for their crossing, and for immigration and customs checks. Crucially, ferry and train companies already record the license plate numbers of vehicles crossing the border.
The principles of the smart border are as follows:
- In advance of the crossing, the exporter / vendor of the goods submits an export declaration.
- The haulier then submits the required declarations into the NCTS system of the country from which they are transporting the goods. (These declarations include ENS (safety and security) declarations and SPS declarations (for example for sanitary, animal and veterinary products.) This creates a TAD which must be carried physically for the crossing, as well as a barcode. Up to 100 declarations can be compiled into the same envelope, giving just one barcode. The ENS declarations must also be dropped off into the ICS (Import Control System) of the country where the goods will end up.
- Upon arrival at the port, the haulier must provide the MRN of the TAD, or the barcode, to the transit company who matches this with the vehicle’s license plate number and asks a few questions to assess which customs and immigration checks will be needed.
- During the crossing, a risk analysis is automatically carried out and sent to the SI Brexit IT system, which allows the customs officials on the other side of the border to anticipate which formalities will be required.
- Using screens in the ferry or train, the driver is then told before disembarking whether they will be able to drive straight on or whether they will need to stop for customs formalities once they reach the other side.
- The arrival of the vehicle to the destination port is then entered into the NCTS, which discharges the transit form and releases the goods.
The French border control body recommends above all that export / import and goods transportation companies anticipate which requirements will apply to them, and get to know the procedures in advance, in order to maintain fluidity and make the customs process as quick and easy as possible.
Please write to [email protected] for further information.