France releases guide for UK businesses in case of no-deal Brexit

French customs authorities have released a new guide for UK businesses on how to prepare for new procedures set to be introduced in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

France releases guide for UK businesses in case of no-deal Brexit
Photo: AFP
The guide, published on the UK government website on Friday, sets out how British businesses that transport goods between the UK and France should prepare for new customs procedures in the event that Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.
Should the UK leave the EU with no deal on March 29th, customs and controls at the France's border with the UK will be rolled out for goods. 
This means that any exchange of goods between France and the UK, both for imports and exports, will be subjected to two customs declarations, one to British customs and one to the French side.
The new guidance from French customs is intended to help UK businesses prepare for the new arrangements.

'We're not ready for Brexit': French customs officers' protest hits Calais and Eurostar

Photo: AFP

“Brexit without a withdrawal agreement would mean that the United Kingdom becomes from 30 March 2019 a third country to the European Union and leaves the internal market,” said Rodolphe Gintz, the director general of French customs, in a letter included in the guide. 

“For several months alongside its partners, French Customs has been preparing in order to ensure the continuity and fluidity of trade in goods between France and the United Kingdom in such a scenario,” said Gintz. 
As a result it has developed a “'smarter border' system”, he added, encouraging UK businesses to prepare “without delay” and “maintain international competitiveness”. 
The guide is divided into sections covering how businesses have to prepare for a no-deal Brexit scenario including, what exactly customs clearance is, advice on whether businesses should outsource customs procedures to a registered customs representatives, what information businesses need to provide to a registered customs representative. 
There are also sections advising on what financial impact Brexit may have businesses, how to register a business with customs and which goods require special treatment. 
The guide arrives as French customs officers continue their work-to-rule industrial action to protest over pay and show the effect Brexit will have on cross-Channel passengers.
This has seen delays on Eurostar services from Gare du Nord, with the disruptions expected to last until at least Sunday. 

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.