Government must fully prepare businesses for new customs procedures if border delays are to be avoided next year, urged Britain’s Road Haulage Association (RHA).

The call comes as the Association’s chief executive, Richard Burnett raised concerns officials have failed to commit to a deadline to provide ‘the promised operating model for customs processes.’

He added businesses need that clarity immediately if they have ‘any chance’ of being border ready on 1 January, 2021.

In a letter to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps after the Border Delivery Group’s Preparing Our Borders event, Burnett said industry needs to know what the processes look like to understand the scale of the task to prepare.

“We need HMRC to clearly define the process so that we can understand how many customs agents will be required to support traders and hauliers,” he said. 

But he warned there could still be a huge shortfall of trained agents after transition as the costs of employing new staff without a revenue stream until 2021 would be impossible for many firms.

“The GBP7m (US$9m) the Border Delivery Group has earmarked to support the scaling up of customs agents is nowhere near enough,” noted an RHA statement.

“The government needs to recognise solutions need to be crystal clear and immediate to ensure our exit is as smooth as possible.”