Hauliers exporting goods to the European Union have faced fresh disruption since the turn of the year as a glitch in the UK's digital customs system and new demands from French authorities threaten delays.
Drivers heading to ports in the first few days of January found they were unable to enter details of shipments in the government's Goods Vehicle Management System (GVMS) because it did not recognise the change in year to '2023'.
Hauliers exporting canned foods to the EU via France meanwhile face new demands that paperwork be presented only translated into French, leading to dismay among trade groups at the lack of certainty around border controls two years after Brexit.
The GVMS was introduced in 2020 to coordinate post-Brexit exports to the EU by linking vehicles to customs declarations required since the UK left the EU.
The system requires each shipment to enter a unique Movement Reference Number, which begins with a prefix code containing the year and the country of origin.
Exporters, hauliers and customs agents trying to ship goods on routes between the UK and Holland in the first two days of the year found the system would not accept the new prefix '23GB'.
Instead of a smooth automated process through the border, they were required to drive to inland border facilities to get oral confirmation from Border Force officials, and have documentation hand-stamped.
HM Revenue and Customs, which manages GVMS, confirmed there had been a problem with the system but said disruption was "minimal".
An HMRC spokesperson said: "We experienced technical difficulties with the GVMS for a short period on Monday and it is now fixed.
"A few traders were sent to our Inland Border Facilities, where we worked closely with them to ensure they reached their destination as quickly as possible. We apologise for any disruption caused."
In a separate challenge for British exporters, the French authorities have begun demanding that some paperwork for food exports, known as attestations, be provided only in French and threatening to refuse goods that do not comply.