UK eases customs rules for Ukraine aid after Brexit confusion leaves lorries stuck in Dover for days

Donations now exempt from new border bureaucracy

Wladimir Klitschko thanks people for donating supplies to help Ukrainians

The UK government has eased customs rules for aid donations after confusion over post-Brexit bureaucracy left supplies meant for Ukraine stuck at the border in Dover for days.

Charities and aid organisations exporting donated goods can now bypass electronic customs declarations which have been blamed for holding up lorries trying to reach Europe.

Other customs formalities, such as needing to notify HMRC when the goods have been exported, were also lifted.

The government said the rule changes – which will be temporary – were made in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine but will apply to aid being sent to any destinations besides Russia and Belarus.

Earlier this week charities said that five tonnes of donations for Ukraine had been held up at the port of Dover due to confusion over the new system of border checks.

Britain’s exit from the EU single market and customs union led to a big increase in paperwork for goods crossing the border between the UK and the EU.

A new electronic system, the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), launched in January to facilitate the declarations needed to cross the Channel.

Hauliers have complained that the system has caused the huge queues seen leading to Dover as even lorries with the right paperwork have been taking 15 minutes to clear the border.

HMRC said it has changed the rules for drivers with aid shipments so that they will not be required to use the GVMS and can simply speak to customs officers or drive through a port.

The changes will take effect immediately.

Aid vans from Lewisham Polish Centre loaded with sleeping bags, nappies and sanitary items were stuck in Dover for two days

Lucy Frazer QC MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “People and businesses across the UK have already responded with immense generosity, donating millions of pounds to support those forced to flee their homes as a result of the war in Ukraine.

“Government advice remains that the best way to help the Ukrainian people is to donate money through the Disasters Emergency Committee or other trusted charities.

“However, we appreciate that people and businesses may still wish to donate aid directly to the region, so this new customs easement will ensure that humanitarian aid is fast-tracked from GB to help those most affected.”

HMRC said the end-date for the customs changes will be announced in due course.

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