U.K. Says It’s Ready for Brexit Border Changes as New Era Begins

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The U.K. said it is ready for significant changes at the border with the European Union starting 11 p.m. Thursday, when it leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union.

Companies will need to file customs declarations when moving goods in to the EU and lorry drivers risk a 300-pound ($410) fine if they enter the county of Kent -- home to the port of Dover -- without the right documents.

The necessary border systems and infrastructure are in place, and officials will be ready to stop non-compliant vehicles and impose fines, a government spokesperson said. The government will use automatic number plate recognition cameras to spot lorries without the right clearances.

Potential disruption at the U.K.-EU border is one of the government’s biggest Brexit concerns, and ministers fear long queues at ports due to traders not being prepared for the extra bureaucracy caused by the split.

In September, an internal Cabinet Office analysis warned of 7,000-truck-long lines in a reasonable worst case scenario, an outcome that would disrupt food supplies and play havoc with just-in-time manufacturing processes.

Officials expect volumes of traffic to be low on Friday due to it being the New Year’s holiday, meaning early disruption is unlikely, according to a U.K. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There has also been a marked up-tick in visits to the government’s Brexit transition website over the last week, the official said, a sign of companies increasingly preparing for the upcoming changes.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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