UK Customs technology company Agency Sector Management (ASM) has moved to calm fears that the Port of Dover and other key ro-ro ports will face chaos in the event of a no-deal Brexit, revealing Customs plans to continue handling the current volume of imports and exports.

Widespread concern over whether the UK will face significant delays to lorries at Dover and other ports, as a result of having to wait for clearance, prompted ASM to reveal that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has developed contingency plans should the Government fail to strike a deal on its exit from the European Union (EU).

“A lot has been said recently about the chaos that will ensue at Dover and other roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ports if we leave the EU on 29 March without a deal,” said Peter MacSwiney, Chairman, ASM. A likelihood which has been brought into sharp focus, by last night’s crushing defeat of the Government’s deal.

“We do however understand from HMRC sources that there are plans in place for RoRo traffic in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and that those plans (for the UK side of the border at least) do not involve inventory systems or mandatory reporting to the frontier for either exports or imports.”

MacSwiney said that for imports of EU goods, the plan involves all goods being declared as a pre-lodged non-inventory linked declaration, prior to the ferry arriving in the UK.

We note that the outlined solution does not address the collection of any Duties or VAT, which in theory would be due under WTO rules

On arrival, the trader ‘arrives’ the declaration and, only if the goods are selected for examination will the vehicle have to report to Customs.

Otherwise, the driver can carry on to their destination as they do now.

For exports, pre-lodged declarations will be required (as is currently the case for all third country exports), but for RoRo exports, these will be declared as ‘arrived’.

If the declaration receives ‘permission to progress’ (P2P) then the vehicle can proceed to the ferry as now. If selected for examination, the goods will have to be presented to Customs.

MacSwiney added that in terms of goods arriving to the EU, it was unclear as to whether there would be a requirement for an Entry Summary Declaration as is normally made for all third country goods entering the EU.

“These plans do not initially involve the new Customs Declaration Service, the new declaration processing system being developed to replace the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF),” he said.

“Despite anything you may have heard, that new system is not going to be ready by the time we leave the EU.”

By far the greatest volume of RoRo traffic between the UK and EU goes via Dover, with approximately 7,000 vehicles per day in 2017, according to the port’s own statistics.