French Customs have begun a month long trial of the systems that it will put in place for processing freight if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
France is increasingly anticipating a no-deal Brexit, recruiting 700 extra customs officers and creating a “smart border” to keep traffic moving.
For a month, French Customs and other participants will prepare the country for all scenarios, to be ready on 31st October, to ensure the smooth flow of trade, should the UK Brexit without an agreement.
The French system would allow companies to fill out an online declaration of goods heading for the UK before the trucks set off. This would generate documentation, including bar codes, that would feed into the electronic customs system and combine with number plate recognition technology.
French freight forwarding and logistics participants will take part in dry runs through Dunkerque, Calais port, Calais tunnel, Dieppe, Le Havre, Caen-Ouistreham, Cherbourg, Saint-Malo, and Roscoff.
UK contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, expects that between 50 and 85% of lorries travelling between Calais and Dover will not be ready to cope with new French custom controls, which could lead to a reduction in traffic flows of between 40 and 60%.
With no transition period, UK firms may have to start trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms from 1st November, with goods theoretically subject to tariffs in both directions instead of passing freely within the customs union.