The KAP - unofficially dubbed ‘the Kermit’ after the famous Muppet character - is to confirm drivers have correct permission to drive through the county of Kent en route for the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel. We look at the permit, how to obtain one and the penalties for not having one plus the need for appropriate courier insurance and goods in transit insurance for couriers and hauliers.
Getting the Right Permits
Since the UK officially left the European Single Market in December 2020, a raft of new legislation regarding the import and export of goods in and out of the country has been introduced. Among them was the Kent Access Permit (KAP), which for those involved in cross border fleet haulage and courier services aimed to ensure that drivers have the right documents for EU import controls and not clog up Kent’s already busy highways.
Since its introduction it’s not always been plain sailing for van and truck drivers. According to a report by news organisation Kent Online, by January 3 more than 400 fines had been issued to HGV drivers who failed to obtain a valid Kent Access Permit before entering the county.
The passes came into effect on January 1 and all drivers with loads of over 7.5 tonnes must have one if leaving the country via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel. The permit confirms drivers have the right documents for EU import controls.
The biggest concern for fleet managers or those involved in commercial haulage or courier transportation is the fact that the fine of £300 per lorry would be imposed on the driver, rather than the haulier or freight forwarder who has the formal responsibility for completing the customs paperwork. And a driver can get several fines if they have contravened multiple requirements.
Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) enforcement officers can issue penalties to hauliers found heading for Dover or Eurotunnel without a KAP.
Who Needs a KAP?
You’ll need a KAP if your HGV is over 7.5 tonnes in weight and is leaving the United Kingdom from the Port of Dover or via the Eurotunnel and will need a permit even if the HGV is not carrying goods or if it is only carrying post. Each permit is valid for 24 hours and you’ll need a new permit each time the HGV leaves Great Britain. You won’t need a KAP if the HGV or van is under 7.5 tonnes or is leaving from a different port.
You won’t need a KAP if:
- your HGV, truck or van weighs 7.5 tonnes or less
- you’re not leaving Great Britain from the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel
- you’re not travelling internationally, because you’re just driving through or within Kent
- you’re just dropping off a trailer that will be taken across the border.
You should still check that your HGV is ready to cross the border, even if you don’t need a KAP. Remember that the KAP doesn’t replace all those other important customs or goods specific import/export documents your driver is likely to need or the appropriate van or truck insurance for driving in European destinations.
How Do I Get a Kent Access Permit?
You can apply for a KAP online here (https://www.gov.uk/check-hgv-border). You’ll need to provide the expected date and time of arrival of your truck in Kent and
its front number plate. To get your KAP, you will have to confirm you have the correct customs and export documents before the HGV travels and complete a self-assessment to confirm you meet EU import requirements. The whole process takes around five minutes.
Based on the self-declared information, the service will indicate if the lorry driver is border-ready or not using a ‘traffic light system’. It will be digitally issued to drivers via their phone who receive a ‘green’ or ‘amber’ result from the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” service.
- Green: all relevant documentation has been declared present, and goods can 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.
Important: You must have tested negative for coronavirus (COVID-19) up to 72 hours before you cross the border into France. Get tested before entering Kent to avoid delays. HGV drivers and crew can get a free test at a haulier advice site.