Much attention has been paid to the impact of new tariffs and duties on UK-EU freight post Brexit, but these are not the only issues. The European Commission has pointed out that without a deal, a range of UK-issued documents will no longer be recognised in the EU. These include Certificates of Professional Competence for drivers / transport managers, UK driving licenses and UK-issued Community licenses for hauliers.
In response, the UK government is to ratify the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which covers international carriage (but not cabotage) and International Driving Permits. They plan to introduce mandatory registration of trailers – addressing what was already an issue with some EU states.
Whatever the outcome of negotiations, UK drivers, shippers and carriers are facing new sets of paperwork and probably a more rigorous inspection regime. The fear, is that the A2 and M20 will become permanent lorry parks, but with some goodwill and a sensible use of technology this need not be true.
HMRC’s new Customs Declaration System mirrors the EU’s fully-electronic Union Customs Code, which will largely go live in 2020. This system should eliminate most physical checks for compliant shippers and carriers. So, to prevent delays, carriers are increasingly likely to insist on proof that their shippers have Economic Operator Registration, and all their Customs, security, origin and other declarations are in order, before accepting loads. Equally shippers will need certainty that the hauliers’ driver, vehicle and company status are all in order and up to date.
Systems such as TGMatrix’ Intelligent Freight Matching already collate some of this data to match user needs. It would be no great extension to include fields such as vehicle licences and registrations, or economic operator status. This would see a transport contract only being struck when all the required ‘lights go green’.
One could go further. Systems such as this could become neutral, secure and verifiable depositories for all the regulatory detail surrounding any particular journey. Blockchain technology could have a role here. A single trip ID could give authorities one-click access to all the relevant details for any given journey. Combined with track and trace, or number plate recognition, checks could be carried out remotely and largely automatically without delaying journeys.
Technically, this approach is readily achievable…
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