Kent Access Permit: all you need to know

Kent Access Permit: all you need to know

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Pölös Zsófia

Pölös Zsófia



Kent Access Permit: all you need to know

The UK government has confirmed that all international lorry drivers entering the county of Kent on route to Europe will need the Kent Access Permit from January 1st. Understandably, many drivers and hauliers will have questions on the permit, so we have trawled through the 138-page-long “The Border With the European Union” paper to find the answers. 

Updated: 16 December 2020

What is the Kent Access Permit?

The Kent Access Permit is a certificate for drivers carrying out international transportation tasks from the UK to Europe. It aims to make sure drivers will already have completed the required documentation for crossing into the EU before even entering Kent.

It will be digitally issued to drivers who receive a ‘green’ or ‘amber’ result from the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service.

Who needs the Kent Access Permit?

All truck drivers (both UK and non-UK drivers) who carry out international transportation tasks and are heading to Europe via the county of Kent to cross the Channel.

HGV drivers doing domestic journeys that start, travel through, or end in Kent, will NOT need to obtain a KAP.

How can I get the permit?

By the time you arrive at the county of Kent, you need to have the Kent Access Permit. To get the Kent Access Permit, you need to receive a green light from the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service.

Basically, this means that by the time you arrive at the county of Kent, you need all your documentation sorted and declared online.

Here is what you need to have to be able to receive a permit:

  • the expected date and time of arrival of the HGV in Kent
  • the registration number (front number plate) of the HGV
  • custom-ready documentations:
    – an EU import document with a barcode (for example from an import declaration or Transit Accompanying Document)
    – Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) or Transport Internationaux Routiers (TIR) carnets

What is the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service?

The “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service (formerly known as the Smart Freight system) will be an online service for the RoRo freight industry in many languages. It will ask questions relating to the expected EU import controls at the border to ensure the lorry driver has all the necessary documents before they travel. The service will include an online portal for the registration of goods movements and an operator application to check compliance with the service.

Based on the self-declared information, the service will indicate if the lorry driver is border-ready or not using a ‘traffic light system’.

Green: all relevant documentation has been declared present, and goods may be taken to the port.

Amber: documentation has been declared present, but goods can only be taken to the port after the driver has gone to an HMRC Office of Departure or a Third Party Authorised Consignor to complete customs processes and obtained an MRN barcode.

Red: some or all documentation is missing, and goods should not be taken to port.

The „Check an HGV” service was launched on 16 December 2020 and is ready to use now:

>>> Go to the “Check an HGV” service  <<<

What documents will I need?

The “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service will ask whether applicable customs documentation is held, for example:

  • Movement Reference Number (MRN) for the EU customs import declaration
  • Transit Accompanying Document
  • ATA Carnet or TIR Carnet

For commodities, the Service will ask whether particular documentation is held for example:

  • Export Health Certificates
  • Phytosanitary Certificates
  • Catch Certificates
  • Documentation for certain restricted goods e.g. CITES goods

How long is the Kent Access Permit (KAP) valid?

Each KAP will be valid for 24 hours to cover a single trip.

What happens if I don’t have the permit?

Police and DVSA enforcement officers will be able to issue penalties to hauliers found heading for Dover or Eurotunnel without a KAP. The fine of £300 per lorry would be imposed on the driver, rather than the haulier or freight forwarder who has formal responsibility for completing the customs paperwork.

Travelling in contravention of a ‘red’ result (being advised not to travel) or failure to use the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service (and thereby not having a valid KAP), would be a fineable offence.

driver can get several fines if they have contravened multiple requirements.

Photo credits: Chris Whippet (left image) & Oast House Archive (right image) / both images cropped and sourced from

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