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The RHA has announced that the sign-up process for its new Customs Brokerage Service for international hauliers will begin on 1 November 2020.

Initially focussing on roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) traffic, the service goes live on 1 January 2021 and will be electronically connected to all 26 major UK ports.

It aims to ensure that Ro-Ro declarations can be completed in a way that suits operators and traders.

With less than 10 weeks until the Brexit transition period ends, the RHA said it fully endorsed the government’s acknowledgement that “time is running out for business to prepare”.

Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The focus for the thousands of hauliers and traders that currently move goods between GB and the EU is not on a ‘deal’ - it’s on how cross-EU border traffic copes with the added processes - not least the added paperwork. That’s why we are pleased to announce the launch of the RHA Customs Brokerage service.

“We know that the haulage and logistics sector needs guidance as to the new processes. Many companies already work closely with their customs brokers and they will easily be able to adapt to the new regime. But following an extensive industry survey, we have established that over 63% of operators are unprepared for the customs changes.”

HMRC estimates that the current 50m annual transactions will increase to well over 200m, including the 20m needed to service the Irish protocol once the UK leaves the EU.

It said thousands of extra customs brokers will be needed to meet the demand but suitable candidates will need to be recruited and trained.

“The massive shortfall of customs agents means that there is definitely a need for operational guidance and practical customs solutions," Burnett continued. "The expertise of our policy department combined with our extensive experience of the many customs procedures will ensure that the RHA Customs Brokerage service will be a best practice and industry-leading customs solution.

“It’s all about taking the risk, the time demands and the general headache out of the new declarations process," he concluded. "The service will provide full support for RHA members, businesses, clients and traders by ensuring they can keep goods moving while staying compliant in these challenging and unprecedented times.”