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Britain eyeing 10 centres for post-Brexit customs checks

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Lorries are seen parked on the southbound M20 motorway, as part of Operation Stack, as they wait to be allowed to proceed to the Port of Dover

Britain eyeing 10 centres for post-Brexit customs checks

FILE PHOTO: Lorries are seen parked on the southbound M20 motorway, as part of Operation Stack, as they wait to be allowed to proceed to the Port of Dover

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain may build up to 10 centres to process customs checks and paperwork for trucks bound for Europe after Brexit and will fine drivers who head to ports without the correct documentation.

Britain will fully leave the European Union on Dec. 31, meaning businesses will need declarations to import and export into the world's biggest trading bloc for the first time in years.

With less than three months to go, the government is still setting out its plans for trade after it warned that a lack of preparation by many companies could lead to queues of around 7,000 lorries in the southeast of England.

It said on Thursday it had identified 10 sites around the country including in the county of Kent - home to the ports of Dover and Folkestone which sail to Calais - in central England and near the ports sailing to Ireland.

In the area of Ashford, near Dover, it has started work on a site in Sevington which may hold trucks if traffic is disrupted, and where goods and declarations could be checked to make sure they are ready to travel. Other sites still require planning permission.

In a bid to prevent trucks from clogging the roads of Kent, the government will also introduce a Kent Access Permit which truck drivers must carry to access the main roads to the ports.

"HGV (lorry) drivers on those key roads in Kent without one could be stopped and issued with a 300 pound on-the-spot fine," it said.

The government's latest document on the Border Operating Model said lorry drivers operating in the Kent area but not bound for Europe should also carry paperwork, in a sign of the increased bureaucracy business is likely to face next year.

"With fewer than 3 months to go, businesses need to prepare now for new procedures whether or not we reach a trade agreement with the EU, so that they can seize the significant opportunities that lie ahead," said Michael Gove, the minister overseeing Brexit planning.

(Reporting by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Paul Sandle and Stephen Addison)