If you are a band with European Tour Dates and are travelling in a Splitter Van with a Carnet across the UK/EU Border for the first time since Brexit, Mark at Iron Man Records explains how to keep it simple.
I took an Americana Band called Mipso across Europe in June 2022. I learned a lot about post Brexit Border crossing. Here’s what I would recommend if you have Tour Dates to play, the UK/EU Border to cross, and a Carnet to deal with.
The first thing to do is go by Eurotunnel. Get a “passenger” ticket for a 9 seat Splitter van as it is classified as “a passenger carrying vehicle.” Don’t go on a “Freight” ticket. Avoid the Ferry, I know it’s cheaper, but the risk of huge queues and all sorts of other issues can make things complicated. I would choose a “Standard Refundable” ticket as it’s valid for a year from date of purchase, ideal if plans change, and you need to move the booking to a later date. The ticket is also refundable if something happens. Book your departure to be two hours later than needed. If you are delayed getting the Carnet processed or get stuck in Traffic you will still turn up on time. If you turn up early you can still take an earlier crossing up to two hours before your scheduled departure.
UK Outbound (export)
If you are going to choose an Inland Border Facility to present your Carnet, go to STOP 24. There are many Inland Border Facilities to choose from, I just find STOP 24 easy as it’s close to Eurotunnel. It easy to find on your way to Eurotunnel check in and easy to get to when you return. You don’t need to book in advance, you can turn up anytime you like. Stop 24 Folkestone Services is located at Junction 11 of the M20 and is the closest motorway services to the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover. Full address: STOP 24, Folkestone Services, Junction 11, M20, Hythe CT21 4BL https://www.stop24.co.uk
Drive in and go past the petrol station. Follow the road all the way round to the back of the services where all the trucks are parked up. Using What3words Head to ///simulates.rope.weaned where there is a barrier. You will need to put your number plate in before the barrier opens. Drive all the way round until you find the van parking spaces at ///menu.oxidation.shelters. Don’t park in the truck spaces. Wear your High Vis when moving around in the truck park.
When you walk into the Services you will see the Channel Ports Office, it’s right opposite the public toilets, that’s where you need to present the Carnet.
STOP 24 has got to be one of the worst services in the UK. Don’t have any high hopes for good food or drink of any quality. The amenities on offer are basic, but if you get stuck for hours, there are places to get hot and cold food and coffee and so on. So it’s bearable. They even have picnic tables outside. Try and stay positive.
I use Rock-It Cargo whenever I need a Carnet. I put The Carnet in the name of Iron Man Records at the Iron Man Records address. You can list yourself and any member of the band/crew as ‘named representatives’ so any member of the travelling group can present the Carnet.
You need to present ID with the Carnet to show you are either the holder or a named representative.
Make sure the Green front page of the Carnet is signed and I had to then fill out a Yellow “exportation” voucher. You can do all of this in advance but you must sign the yellow voucher in front of the clerk you are handing it to. You should also have copies of your general list in case of inspection.
Once the staff at the Customs office window have your Carnet they will ask you for a mobile phone number. They keep all your paperwork and give you a slip/receipt and you go and wait for a text. Be sure to wait where there is plenty of phone signal. Stop 24 has poor signal in some areas.
The first time I had to visit Stop 24 I got a text after nearly 3 hours saying everything was fine and to collect the paperwork. Typically the wait might be 20 minutes, but be prepared for a longer wait on occasion. If I had been picked for inspection that would have added extra time to inspect the goods against the general list.
Once you have the Carnet back, return to the Truck Park Exit and the barrier lifts automatically. You don’t have to pay for the parking.
When you arrive at check in for Eurotunnel, use the passenger check in, don’t get in the freight line. Here are some numbers should you want to ask about anything in advance or ask about Merch.
EU Inbound (import)
When exiting Eurotunnel, passenger cars and vans go right. Look out for the orange sign that says SIVEP. As you follow the road out of Eurotunnel, the first slip road on the right is the one you will need to take. There is a SIVEP sign to direct you too. If you find yourself going past the Total Garage you have missed the turning and will need to use your Sat Nav to find your way.
You can search for the Sotracom Office Calais on Bd de L’Europe, 62100 Calais, France on Google Maps. The easiest way is to use What Three Words using ///class.massive.abolish where there is a gate and a buzzer that you ring and say you have a Carnet that needs stamping as you are importing from UK to EU. Then they will let you in and you park up and walk to the office.
Take ID & your Carnet with completed white importation voucher and copy of general list, sign it in front of them and hand it over. Then you get given a number, and you sit and wait for your number to be called and your paperwork will be ready to collect. The process took less than ten minutes and there was no inspection. There was a van driving round the car park with a bloke in a high Vis asking truck drivers questions. I timed it just right to be sure I got into the van and drove away without any further discussion. I have no idea what was going on but I didn’t want to hang around and find out. The golden rule with all of these things is return to your vehicle as quickly as possible and drive away as fast as possible before anyone decides to inspect the vehicle. But don’t make it look like you are returning to your vehicle as quickly as possible or driving away as fast as possible. Try and look relaxed. There’s no gate or buzzer on the way out, you can just drive away no problem.
EU Outbound (re-export)
You need to go somewhere different at Calais Eurotunnel on the way back to the UK to get the carnet stamped.
Follow the Eurotunnel signs to the tourist terminal at Junction 42b (Don’t get in the freight queue).
Go through Eurotunnel check in as usual.
Turn right into the passenger terminal car park as if you are going to get a coffee or visit the toilets (if you have gone through border control you have missed it!)
Walk into the terminal and turn right. Follow the signs for the Toilets. Go past WH Smith and on the left-hand side before the toilets there is a customs window (Douanes)
They process your white re-exportation voucher that you have filled in and sign in front of them etc. As mentioned before, it took 5 minutes. Keep quiet and let them process it as you stand at the window. They are no more interested in your Carnet than you are. Let them do the work while you wait.
This office is the same place that process your duty-free refunds. The staff told me they are open 24 hours, 7 days a week but there can sometimes be a slight delay if the shifts are changing over. So 5 minutes is typical but be prepared for a longer wait if they pick you for inspection or the shifts are changing over.
UK Inbound (re-import)
Return to Stop 24 as you did before. Same procedure. Park up in the van parking, hand your carnet in at the office window. You will need to get your yellow re-importation voucher stamped.
If that’s the end of your trip you have to return the Carnet to Rock-it Cargo or whoever supplied the Carnet.
It seems to me that no one is inspecting vehicles outbound or inbound unless they have good reason to do so. Always tell the others in the travelling group to keep quiet when you are being questioned by Customs or Border Force Staff. Be sure to cooperate fully but don’t talk too much or make silly comments or jokes in case it attracts more detailed questions. Answer the questions in full as simply and clearly as possible. Get your passports stamped and get going. Don’t mess around or you may win a full inspection. And then you may be in all sorts of trouble if they find anything not listed on the carnet.
UK to EU
Stop 24, Folkestone Services, Junction 11, M20, Hythe, Kent, CT21 4BL
Eurotunnel UK Terminal, Ashford Road, Folkestone, CT18 8XX
Bureau de controle douane calais port tunnel, 62100 Calais, France.
Sotracom Office Calais on Bd de L’Europe on Google Maps sotracom Office calais, 62100 Calais, France
EU to UK
Calais Eurotunnel Arrival Point, Avenue de France, 62231 Coquelles, France
Stop 24, Folkestone Services, Junction 11, M20, Hythe, Kent, CT21 4BL
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