The government has published its blueprint for how cross-border trade with the EU will operate after the Brexit transition period.
It details a range of measures businesses must take in order to keep trading with the bloc once the UK leaves the single market and customs union at the end of the year.
The 206-page Border Operating Model was released on Monday, following Sunday’s announcement of a £705m investment in new infrastructure, jobs and technology at the border.
The new model will be phased in over six months for the border to be fully operational by 1 July.
The exact nature and extent of the checks will be determined by the ongoing negotiations, but the government has previously estimated there could be up to 400 million extra customs declarations per year at a cost of £12.8bn to British businesses.
The government says businesses can already take actions to prepare, including applying for an ‘EORI’ number for goods moving in and out of GB, setting up a duty deferment account, and finding a customs intermediary.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said in the House of Commons on Monday that the best way to help businesses prepare would be “to agree a deal with the European Union on the terms that we were told to expect”.
“It does not mean … customs, physical checks, export declarations, a commodity code, and economic operator restrictions and identification, and it certainly does not mean a living document with guidance that changes day by day.”
The government is also introducing new physical and digital infrastructure for the border, including 10 to 12 new customs and controls sites across the country. This will include a new customs clearance centre 20 miles inland from Dover that will deal with some of the 10,000 lorries passing through the port every day.
Exporters will face a full range of checks including animal and plant health checks, safety and security declarations, and changes to VAT.
A new IT system – the Goods Vehicle Movement Service – will enable exporters to pre-declare their shipments before receiving a reference number to allow them to cross into Europe. Those without the necessary paperwork will be unable to board.
Businesses and logistics associations, however, are concerned that the computer systems will not be ready in time for 1 January.