Guidance

Border planning assumptions in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit

Government departments have been working to design customs and other control arrangements at the UK border in a way which ensures goods can continue to flow into the country.

The Government and the EU have now agreed the basis upon which the UK will leave the EU in March 2019. This represents a significant step towards the UK’s objective of securing an orderly exit from the EU. Nevertheless, as a responsible Government it is only right that we should continue to plan for all scenarios.

Government departments have been working to design customs and other control arrangements at the UK border in a way which ensures goods can continue to flow into the country, and won’t be delayed by additional controls and checks.

However, the UK Government does not have control over the checks which member states impose at the EU border. The European Commission has made it clear that, in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, it will impose full third country controls on people and goods entering the EU from the UK.

Although we cannot know exactly what each member state will do with respect to checks on the EU border, the cross-Government planning assumptions have been revised so we can prepare for the potential impacts that the imposition of third country controls by member states could have. These impacts are likely to be felt mostly on the short straits crossings into Dover and Folkestone, where the frequent and closed loop nature of these mean that both exports and imports would be affected.

The revised cross-Government planning assumptions show that there will be significantly reduced access across the shorts straits, for up to six months. This is very much a worst-case scenario.

In a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU we would, of course, want to work closely with Member States to introduce pragmatic arrangements to ensure the continued full flow of goods which would be to their benefit as well as ours. Nevertheless, as a responsible Government, we have a duty to plan for all scenarios.

Extensive work to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario has been under way for almost two years and we are taking necessary steps to ensure the country continues to operate smoothly from the day we leave. The Government will work closely with industry to ensure that cross-border activity continues to be conducted in a way which minimises delays and additional burdens for legitimate trade, while robustly ensuring compliance.

The approach of continuity does not mean that everything will stay the same, but the priority is maximising stability at the point of departure through the government’s action.

Please refer to the HMG Partnership Pack for more information relating to processes and procedures that are likely to apply to cross-border activity between the UK and the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario.

For general information about EU Exit, including the Article 50 process, negotiations, and announcements about policy changes as a result of EU Exit, please visit this page.

Published 7 December 2018