Border IT system repaired after 10 days outage

The failure of a border IT system put in place after Brexit to reduce waiting times has caused further delays for hauliers and traders who are already facing long queues in Dover.

The government’s Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), which allows businesses to move goods between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) to file customs forms electronically, has been named as of March 31 after an update of a separate government customs system Chief failed, took it offline.

Following the outage, drivers were unable to access the GVMS portal and obtain a Goods Movement Reference Number (GMR), which is essentially a barcode required to exit the UK.

Instead, GVMS users had to temporarily provide alternative documents, including a “Shipping Accompanying Document” and a “Declaration of Unique Shipment Reference”, which, unlike the GMR barcode, cannot be scanned and therefore increase processing time at the border as they have to be filled in by hand .

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which developed and is responsible for the GVMS, said these and other interim measures are in place by noon today (11 this time).

“Following an outage last week, we have successfully made changes to the HMRC network to allow for GVMS availability,” said a spokesman for HMRC. “Contingencies remained over the weekend to continue to ensure the movement of goods and allow for further testing. Goods movement references will be required for all movements with GVMS from Monday midday.”

according to a financial times The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) reportedly said some of its members transporting fresh meat were “stranded” for up to two days. In response, the association, which represents the UK meat industry, called on the government to speed up exports of perishable goods.

A BMPA spokesman confirmed to Computer Weekly that the association understood the system was operational after hearing feedback from member companies that hauliers were able to access the system again.

The outage, combined with a range of other factors — including trip cancellations due to the summary layoff of nearly 800 P&O Ferries employees, increased tourist traffic around Easter and poor weather conditions — resulted in massive, more than 30-mile standstill lines at the border.

Duncan Buchanan, policy director at the Road Haulage Association, described the week-long GVMS outage as “really unhelpful” at a time when other problems are “piling up”.

In November 2020, a National Audit Office report found that the overall readiness of the GVMS system was at high risk “due to a lack of time for proper integration and testing with shippers and carriers”.

Tim Reardon, Head of EU Exit at the Port of Dover, said back in June 2020: “If HMRC were to buy a license for the French system it would be a very easy thing to do and traders would like it.”

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