What you need to know about travel and trade as UK exits European Union


Tomorrow (January 1) marks the end of the EU transition period, bringing with it changes to the way businesses operate and how people travel to the continent.

As well as leaving the EU single market and customs union, the coronavirus pandemic means anyone travelling from the UK must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling.

These rules by the French government are expected to remain in place until January 6.

Roger Gough

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “It’s been a very long year of uncertainty, upheaval and change and as 2020 comes to an end, we welcome 2021 and a set of new challenges.

“Although the government now has an agreement with the EU, it is vital that our businesses and residents understand the changes tomorrow will bring.

“For months we have been supporting the government by helping businesses get ready for the new trading agreement – deal or no deal there were always going to be things businesses would have to change.

“We have also been working hard with government and local partners to prepare traffic management in Kent for any disruption at the Channel ports.

Photo Frank Leppard

“Through the Kent Resilience Forum, we worked alongside the Department for Transport, Highways England, and Kent Police to agree a single plan, Operation Fennel, to minimise the impact and we’re confident in those plans to minimise disruption.

“We are, however, still urging people to ensure they’re ‘border ready’ and both tourist and HGV traffic should be prepared for queues. Please make sure you check your route before you travel and take food and water and any medicines you need in case of traffic disruption.

“We now have Coronavirus thrown into the mix, meaning anyone leaving the UK for Europe must ensure they have a negative test taken within 72 hours of leaving the country. If you don’t, you will not be able to travel.”

Hauliers should use the government’s Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border service and get a Kent Access Permit if they plan to travel via Port of Dover or Eurotunnel.

If you are not intending to leave the UK, you do not need to get a Kent Access Permit.

Operation Brock, the Highways England traffic management system on the M20, is now in operation meaning both coastbound and London bound carriageways are open for use, even if Operation Fennel is stood up.

HGVs at Manston (December 2020) Photo Frank Leppard

Operation Fennel is a series of steps that can be escalated to deal with traffic should there be issues at the port or Eurotunnel, starting with TAP on the A20 holding up to 200 lorries; Brock M20 holding up to 2,000 lorries; Manston holding up to 4,000 lorries; TAP A256 holding up to 450 lorries; and Sevington holding up to 1,200 lorries.

Ebbsfleet International and Waterbrook will be used to manage HMRC customs clearance.

Mr Gough added: “With these plans in place, Kent can remain as open as much as possible with the current coronavirus restrictions, and our priority is to keep traffic and goods moving and to ensure people can go about their lives as normally as possible.

“We have been given temporary powers which will act as a deterrent to any HGV driver not following the traffic management, meaning we can clamp and fine those drivers which we hope will ensure that compliance is greater, meaning key routes on Kent’s road network are kept clear.

“Though we have worked hard on traffic management plans in conjunction with our partners, we cannot guarantee there will not be a certain amount of freight turned back from the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or from the Manston or Sevington sites if paperwork is not in order.

“If this is the case HGV’s are expected to return to their base of operation but it seems more likely they would simply move onto the local road network and wait to become ready – these powers help highlight that this is not acceptable.”

In the event of disruption to the transport network, businesses and residents should visit the below social media sites for up to date information and travel advice:

Kent County Council Twitter: @Kent_cc

KCC Highways Twitter: @KentHighways

Port of Dover Travel Twitter: @PoD_travelnews

Eurotunnel Twitter: @leshuttle

Medway Council Twitter: @medway_council

Highways England South East Twitter: @HighwaysSEAST

You need to act now if you’re:

importing goods from the EU

exporting goods to the EU

moving goods to or from Northern Ireland

travelling to the EU

living and working in the EU

staying in the UK if you’re an EU citizen

Get the complete list of what you need to do for you, your business and your family.


  1. In a nutshell:
    Before = seamless, tariff free, tax free open borders; free movement of goods; reciprocal health care; cooperation on science, crime, security.
    After = bureaucracy, taxes, tariffs, closed borders, visas, passport restrictions, no reciprocal health care, no cooperation in science, crime or security.
    But we do have our “Sovereignty”, whatever that is, and we can make whatever laws the USA lets us.

  2. And don’t forget time loss! Forty years ago I met and married a German woman, in Folkestone where I met her. We went to Germany possibly five times a year, during school holidays (she was a teacher) to visit her family. When this happened we had to stop at the borders of France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, and do it all over again when we came back!

    Once all the borders came down, it knocked 2 hours or more off our car journey time, going and coming back, it was bliss driving straight there, and back without any holdups at the borders! Now the folks doing the same journey will have to queue up like we used to do, and have your passports ready, and possibly have your vehicle searched, causing all those delays once more, and for what? An increase in te price of goods and services, thats what, because a truck needs to earn £200.00 an hour so I understand, and when its parked up waiting to get checked at the borders, it isn’t earning!

    • But .. but … but Britain (or what’s left of it) will be “Great” again! Boris says so!
      The Brexit teams haven’t been idle: we have trade deals with Lichtenstein, Turkey, the Cameroons, Chile and the Faroe Islands.
      I’m sure Boris will persuade Joe Biden to sign a US-UK trade deal, once our colonial cousins realise that their freshly signed US-EU trade deal is nothing compared with what a newly freed Sovereign Great Britain has to offer.

  3. A shame that we’ve left the EU. It’s better to be in a co-operative than struggling along on our own.

  4. A lot has been left undecided, kicked into the long grass till later, so that “a deal” could be announced before the EU announced a modest tax on speculative trading in stocks and shares.
    A way of moderating the City slickers tendency to grow fabulously rich (off PPE contracts from their friends in the government, perhaps) and then blowing the cash buying dodgy shares on the stock exchange. If they had to pay a bit of extra tax on each sale, they might just have second thoughts about the wisdom of it.
    But the UK will not be subject to that tax now . Which is why Rishi Sunak, and others in the government, have been rabbiting on about “bold” and “buccaneering” UK investors, celebrating the “risk takers” and “entrepreneurs”. He means the kind of dodgy City whizz kids who funded the Leave campaign.
    If Brexit is to be seen as a “win or lose ” project, then we can see that the City of London won and British manufacturing, agriculture and fishing lost.
    The City investors will be “partying like its 2007!”
    The task for the rest of us is now is to start the process of negotiating closer alignment of the British economy with that of the EU. The current deal already accepts close alignment as , if Britain starts to weaken our protections of wages, holidays, pensions, safety or the environment, the EU can impose tariffs on goods manufactured using those poorer standards.
    We also need to negotiate better travel links, better health arrangements, longer periods in which UK citizens can live or work in the EU. Recognition of each others educational qualifications etc. so UK citizens can find work in the EU and vice versa.
    Of course, it is likely that we would have to pay an annual fee for these advantages , but that would not be too much.
    If there were any problems of implementation , the “deal” allows for regular meetings by UK judges with an equivalent body from the EU. Lets call it an annexe of the European Court.
    Bit by bit, we will be drawing closer to the EU as , in reality, we, the general UK population , has never really left Europe and never could.
    It is only the dodgy City of London investors who dragged us out of the EU in order to avoid the kind of tax and scrutiny that is necessary to stop them repeating the 2007/2008 Banking crash with their reckless investments in no-hope mortgage schemes. They LOVE “sovereignty” as it means they can get away with oodles of cash without hindrance, hiding behind the Union Jack as they creep away to their tax havens in Monaco or Belize.

    • if you was born in Britain you are British not European but if you consider yourself European it explains why you are spouting such rubbish.

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