LONDON – Britain said on Thursday it was easing customs processes for aid donations being exported to support those affected by the humanitarian crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Local media have reported lorries full of charity donations bound for Ukraine and its neighbours being stuck at British ports because of complex post-Brexit paper work and customs checks.
“This new customs easement will ensure that humanitarian aid is fast-tracked from Great Britain to help those most affected,” Lucy Frazer, financial secretary to the Treasury, said.
The government said businesses, charities and community organisations sending aid would no longer need to complete electronic customs declarations before exporting the goods through British ports and could instead make a declaration by speaking to customs officers or driving through a port.
“Government advice remains that the best way to help the Ukrainian people is to donate money … However, we appreciate that people and businesses may still wish to donate aid directly to the region,” Frazer said in a statement.
More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began two weeks ago, according to U.N. figures.
The new rules apply to goods intended to support those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, regardless of the destination, as long as they were not exported to, or through, Russia or Belarus, the government said.
The government said it would also remove other customs formalities, such as needing to notify the government when the goods have been exported.
Britain said the change excluded all controlled goods and dual use goods and would be in place for a limited time, although it did not specify how long that would be.