Post-Brexit customs rules eased to allow aid to flow to Ukraine

3D map of UK and Europe in their flag colours, with lorries stopped at both side of the border.

The Government has relaxed customs rules for goods heading to Ukraine after aid donations to the embattled country were held up due to Brexit confusion.

The rules have been eased after post-Brexit bureaucracy left lorries with supplies meant for Ukraine stuck at the border in Dover for days.

A report on The Independent news website said organisations sending goods to Ukraine will be able to make oral customs declarations, or a ‘declaration by conduct’, such as passing through a ‘nothing to declare’ green channel.

An oral declaration requires an individual to identify the relevant goods to an HMRC officer.

Goods can bypass electronic system

According to a report, this means goods can now bypass electronic customs declarations which have been blamed for holding up lorries trying to reach Europe.

Other customs formalities, such as needing to notify HMRC when the goods have been exported, were also lifted.

The Government said the rule changes – which will be temporary – will apply to aid being sent to any destinations besides Russia and Belarus.

Provided the goods are not exported to, or through, those two countries, then these simplified processes apply to qualifying goods regardless of the destination “to allow maximum flexibility to get aid to where the need is greatest,” an HMRC statement said.

Electronic customs declaration waived

The move replaces the need to lodge an electronic customs declaration to HMRC through CHIEF or CDS and applies to designated airports and south coast ports in the UK.

Britain’s exit from the EU single market and customs union led to extra paperwork for goods crossing the border between the UK and the EU.

A new electronic system, the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), was launched in January to facilitate the declarations needed to cross the Channel.

The system has caused big queues on the roads to Dover, according to hauliers, who have complained that even lorries with the right paperwork have been taking 15 minutes to clear the border.

Ensuring humanitarian aid is fast-tracked

Lucy Frazer QC MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “Government advice remains that the best way to help the Ukrainian people is to donate money through the Disasters Emergency Committee or other trusted charities.

“However, we appreciate that people and businesses may still wish to donate aid directly to the region, so this new customs easement will ensure that humanitarian aid is fast-tracked from GB to help those most affected.”

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