British controls on freight traffic

 
1. Freight traffic from the EU to the UK - What changed since 1 January 2021?

On January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom left the European single market and the customs union. Consequently, there are border and customs controls on goods at every border crossing between the EU and the UK, in ports, airports, and at the Channel Tunnel.

The United Kingdom will introduce border controls in phases for all freight traffic entering the country from the EU. You can consult the specific import requirements in terms of documentation and controls for your sector / cargo via the Border Operating Model (link) of the British authorities. Below is a brief summary of this phased approach. (Note: Please also check which export requirements apply since 1/1/2021 to export from the EU).

  • Since January 1, 2021: all basic customs requirements will enter into force, but companies will have until July 1, 2021 to submit customs declarations and make payments (excluding transit traffic). Physical checks of the goods will take place sporadically at the place of destination.
  • From October 2021: a pre-notification will have to be made for all animal products and regulated plant products and these products will have to be accompanied by the necessary documentation.
  • From January 2022: full customs declarations are required at the border post and payments must be made. Entry safety and security declarations become mandatory. Goods subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls (SPS) will have to be declared at the border and may be subject to checks at the border or inland sites.

It is the responsibility of the importing company and carrier to ensure that the necessary formalities are met. The Belgian embassy in the United Kingdom does not have the authority to intervene or remedy this in any way.

 
2. Freight traffic from the UK to the EU – What changed since 1 January 2021?

Since 1 January 2021, all formalities have to be fulfilled for goods entering the EU from the UK. There is no phased approach for goods entering the EU from the UK, both through ports and through the Eurotunnel. 

The Border Operating Model (link) includes all the necessary British documents required to export from the UK such as export summary declarations, customs declarations and safety and security declarations. (Note: also check which documents are required since 1/1/2021 for import into the EU).

Steps

  • Ensure all necessary formalities have been completed and you have all the necessary documents with you for a border or customs check. For road transport exceeding 7.5 tons: consult the web platform Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border via this link.

  • If you are driving via the county of Kent (crossing via Dover or Folkestone): make sure you have the Kent Access Permit which you can obtain after you have received the green light following an application via the web platform Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border.

  • Make sure you have your ID card to hand. Until 30 September 2021, a Belgian identity card is sufficient as a valid UK identity document. From 1 October 2021, you will need an international passport. In some exceptional cases (e.g. with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or with a frontier worker’s permit) you can continue to use your Belgian identity card until at least December 31, 2025 (link).

  • In principle, a Belgian driving license will remain valid in the UK, even after January 1, 2021. Depending on where your vehicle is insured, you must, however, have a green card or other proof of insurance (link).

  • Closely Check the traffic situation via the UK media before your departure and during the journey.

It is the responsibility of the exporting company and carrier to ensure that the necessary formalities are met. The Belgian embassy in the United Kingdom does not have the authority to intervene or remedy this in any way.                                  

 
3. Driving license and insurance – Is my Belgian driving license sufficient to drive in the UK? What about car insurance for traveling in the EU?

After 31 December 2021, a Belgian driving license will remain sufficient to legally drive a vehicle on British roads. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit.

For vehicles registered in the UK, the driver needs to have a green card as proof of insurance  when traveling within the EU from 1 January 2021. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021.

 
4. Travel documents – Can I travel to the UK with an ID card?

Until 30 September 2021, a Belgian identity card is sufficient to travel to the UK for a stay of less than 6 months. From 1 October 2021, a valid passport will be mandatory, even for short stays.

Please note that only holders of (pre-)settled status can continue to use their ID card to travel between the EU and the UK until 31 December 2025. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit.