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Brexit Update: French Borders

Tue , 10 Nov 2020 | Customs, International trade, import, export, Brexit, UK, EU, France

Brexit. Get ready for the end of the transition period on December 31st, 2020. Streamline your flows by taking advantage of the smart border set up by France.

On 1 January 2021, the transition period for Brexit will end. This means that, in the absence of an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, customs procedures will be re-established between the EU and the UK.

C4T business analysts and customs experts have been implementing various Brexit customs plans for a range of clients active in different sectors and industries all over the European Union within our customs compliance solution, CAS. More information about the formalities that will take effect beginning 1 January, 2021 can be found in our whitepaper, Brexit: A Simplified Guide to the UK’s Border Model”.

Brexit France UK customs

In this article, we will dig deeper into the Brexit requirements for export from and import into France, specifically roll-on roll-off (RoRo) FR-UK flow, and address the following questions:

  1. What are the preliminary customs formalities that economic operators need to put in place pre-Brexit to be able to export from France to the UK and import from the UK to France?
  2. What are the practical steps that will be required at the French border?
  3. How can C4T help you ensure this will be set up before Brexit day?
1. What are preliminary customs formalities that economic operators need to put in place to be able to export from France to the UK and import from the UK to France?

 Brexit checklist for economic operators

  •  Get an EORI number for exchanges with the United Kingdom.
  • Decide who will complete customs declarations. This can be done internally using a software solution like CAS or by engaging with customs brokers. Read our whitepaper “Customs Brokers or Software Solution” to determine which is best for you.
  • Have a good overview of the logistics flows
  • Consult the duties and taxes applicable at import in the United Kingdom/at import in the EU
  • Check whether the goods are subject to particular regulations or standards and make sure to know all the required certifications. You can find out more about applicable regulations and certifications in our in our whitepaper, Brexit: A Simplified Guide to the UK’s Border Model”.
  • Decide which carrier will ensure the transport of the products
  • Prepare a customs clearance plan at export and at import

Preparing a Customs Clearance Plan and Integrating with French Customs

Successful, controlled, and secure customs clearance between international markets requires fluidity, compliance, and agility. That means if you’re trading with France, French customs authorities must be fully integrated into your Brexit strategy—but if you haven’t integrated and prepared a clearance plan yet, time is running out.

C4T acts as an intermediary between our very busy clients and French customs, assisting from beginning to end. We begin by gaining an understanding of each client’s Brexit projects and setting up their French pro.douane account. We then onboard them with our customs compliance solution, CAS, and establish a connection to Delta G, the French customs platform, to automate their flows. We also gather all necessary information and documentation in order to request the necessary authorisations for consignor/consignee, centralised clearance, or the comprehensive guarantee so each shipment passes through French customs smoothly and without delay.

2. What are the Practical Steps That Will Be Required at the French Border?

To ensure an optimal flow, it is essential to understand the logistics steps and the customs formalities that will apply as of 1 January 2021 at the French Borders. France has set up an intelligent border IT system that is based on the following principles:

  • The anticipation of customs formalities before arriving at the border by giving the carrier the barcode of the customs declaration.
  • The identification of the means of transport and the barcode of the customs declaration of the goods in transport.
  • The automation of passing notifications to declarants to avoid stopping heavy goods vehicles.

At export from France, the following steps must be followed:

  • Goods are loaded in France; the declarant lodges the export declarations to the French customs authorities and the documents are transmitted to the driver.
  • The carrier has the possibility of grouping the various declarations under a single barcode (the ‘logistics envelope’) and transmits the customs documents to the driver, as well as the contacts of the declarants.
  • The driver of the vehicle presents the MRN (customs reference number) OR barcode of the logistics envelope issued by pro.douane on arrival at the port of Calais.
  • When the driver presents the documents, the pairing is done. This is a computer reconciliation between the MRN and the vehicle registration (number plate) which links the customs declaration for the goods transported (MRN) to the vehicle carrying them.
  • Once the pairing is done, registration will be validated, and the vehicle can then proceed for boarding.

At import into France, the following steps must be followed:

  • As is the case with imports from outside other non-EU Member States, the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) must be submitted by the declarant for all goods that are on board the vessel and that are brought into the EU.
  • Goods are loaded in the UK, the declarant issues the export declarations to the customs authorities, and the documents are transmitted to the driver.
  • The carrier has the possibility of grouping the various declarations under a single barcode (the ‘logistics envelope’) and transmits the customs documents to the driver, as well as the contacts of the declarants.
  • Before boarding, the driver must present the MRN OR the barcode of the logistics envelope as well as applicable certificates for goods subject to veterinary and phytosanitary controls. Read our whitepaper “Importing and Exporting Products of Animal Origin Post Brexit” to find out more about these controls.
  • Pairing and UK customs checks take place once the registration is validated and the vehicle can then proceed for boarding.
  • Documentary checks are carried out by French customs during the crossing. Following these checks, a status will be assigned to the goods:
    • green lane for non-SIVEP[1] transits, BAE declarations[2], and empty trucks not under control.
    • orange lane for SIVEP transits and declarations not validated and put under control.
  • During the crossing, the driver will be informed of his disembarkation status (green lane or orange lane):
    • via screens present in the ferries (Hauts-deFrance and Dieppe).
    • by a large automatic light panel on arrival onsite (Euro-tunnel).
    • by a list distributed one hour before arrival via SMS with the statutes by license plate for drivers who have agreed to give their phone number when pairing (Breton ports).
  • After disembarkation, the declarant or his representative makes himself available to the authorities and the driver must resolve any customs or physical health issues.

We invite you to reference the comprehensive, 60-page Preparing for Brexit Customs Guidelines document issued by French authorities for more detailed information.

3. How can C4T help ensure this will be set up before Brexit day?

If these new procedures sound complex and time-consuming, especially given the tight deadline, C4T can help. We have been working to prepare for Brexit for years now, ensuring this process is as simple as possible for our customers. Whether you are importing into France from the UK or exporting to the UK from France, CAS will make this process easy and straightforward. With just one message, CAS creates an export declaration and a pre-lodged import declaration in the destination country, allowing you to declare goods in a zero-touch automated way with as few delays as possible. This is our single message, multiple filing functionality. CAS supports multiple flows and provides your business with a quickly adoptable solution so you can avoid delays at the border, keeping trade flowing on Brexit day and beyond.

The clock is ticking. Contact us now to make sure you are prepared for the new year and new customs formalities procedures that will come with it.

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[1] Service d’inspection vétérinaire et phytosanitaire aux frontières’
[2] The BAE or "release" is the authorization for the removal of goods issued by the office following the processing of the declaration and possible control;