‘Check an HGV’ service (formerly referred to as the ‘Smart Freight Service) is a system being developed by HMRC to check if a vehicle is ‘border-ready’ as a means to control the flow of HGVs exiting the UK via Kent.
The service will ask questions relating to the expected EU customs and import controls at the border to ensure the driver has the necessary documents before they travel. Questions on the ‘Check an HGV’ service will include:
- Vehicle Registration Number
- Whether the driver has the correct documentation for the commodities being transported
- When the vehicle is expected to arrive at the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel
Based on the answers to these questions and what documents the driver has obtained, the ‘Check an HGV’ service would inform the driver if they’re border ready or not. The service would give advice to the driver on a ‘traffic light system’ basis:
- Green: all relevant documentation has been declared present, and goods may be taken to the port
- Amber: documentation has been declared present, but goods can only be taken to the port after the driver has gone to an HMRC office of departure or a 3rd-party authorised consignor to complete customs processes and obtain an MRN barcode
- Red: some or all documentation is missing, and goods should not be taken to port
Drivers who get a ‘red’ result would be advised not to take goods to the port as they may not be able to complete their journey, and could cause a delay to other traffic.
The ‘Check an HGV’ service will be able to tell the driver why they got a ‘red’ result, and provide links to guidance on GOV.UK and other sources of advice and support.
This will help the driver, or a person acting on their behalf, to engage with the trader to rectify the situation, obtain missing documents and recheck if they’re border-ready before starting their journey. This could help avoid delays and, as some documentation cannot be provided electronically, prevent costly round trips to obtain missing documentation.
Any hauliers not meeting the requirement will risk the proposed £300 fine.
Such fines for not having a valid KAP would be levied using Fixed Penalty Notices for UK drivers, and financial penalty deposit notices for foreign drivers. Fines would normally be expected to be paid on the spot, although UK drivers would have up to 28 days to pay if required. Foreign drivers are unable to delay payment. If a driver refuses to pay, whether they are a UK or EU driver, their vehicle could be immobilised.
Enforcement will be against the driver, rather than the haulier or freight forwarder who has formal responsibility for completing the customs paperwork. This is because the offence of driving while not having a valid KAP, ignoring the Operation Brock contraflow, or driving without a valid Brock permit would be committed by the driver of the vehicle. Under the relevant legislation, police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), enforcement officers are only able to fine those that are not following the road traffic legislation. This would remain the case even if somebody else had completed the ‘Check an HGV’ service declaration on the driver’s behalf.