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Expert warns of border delays

Firms are being warned that border delays following the UK’s exit from the European Union are likely to get worse before they get better.

A recent survey found that more than half of businesses importing or exporting goods between the UK and the EU have experienced delays since Brexit - and legal experts are warning of more difficult days to come.

Corporate and commercial lawyers at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors in Shropshire say the last minute trade deal meant businesses were not given enough time to prepare for the new arrangements.

Zoë Roberts, associate solicitor in Lanyon Bowdler’s corporate and commercial team, said: “The UK is now a ‘third country’ so customs checks and controls apply to all UK exports entering the EU, such as security and safety declarations and export/import declarations. 

“Documenting the origin of goods and increased border checks mean there is potential for delays in delivery, increased cost and additional administrative hurdles.

“There is understandable frustration from businesses that the finalised Brexit agreement was released less than a week before the end of the transition period, and delays have been added to by customs officials themselves being overwhelmed with the extensive new controls and checks they are now being asked to implement at short notice.

“Whilst the Government is continuously updating its webpages with advice, the likelihood is that the delays being experienced at the UK-EU border are going to get worse. The relief that firms may have felt when being relieved of the threat of a no-deal Brexit, and consequently tariffs being imposed, was short-lived, as they now face new convoluted administrative requirements.

“Like any new endeavour it’s likely to get worse before it gets better, and hopefully the administrative requirements will soon become second nature to firms.”

Zoë said her team had been advising clients to make sure they were fully prepared to try to minimise delays.

“The best way to minimise the potential risk of delays at borders is to prepare. Businesses need to ensure they have the correct documentation and procedures in place before trying to cross the border. t is important to keep updated with the evolving guidance on the gov.uk website, and to use the ‘Check an HGV’ service for a Kent Access Permit.

“Drivers must have tested negative for Covid-19 up to 72 hours before they cross the border into France and therefore drivers should get tested before entering Kent to avoid delays.”

Pictured: Zoe Roberts

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