The UK’s exit from the European Union has created new rules for import and export declarations, inspections, documentation and certification. On the Dutch side, these agreements were tightly regulated and enforced from the start. As a result, specially constructed parking areas at the ferry terminals in Rotterdam and Vlaardingen remained empty. Only one truck was returned to arrange customs paperwork.
It was different on the British side. It is true that the UK opted for a phased approach, which meant that the checks were less stringent at first. But due to a shortage of customs agents and a lack of automation, parking spaces in Dover were full and goods arrived later.
Don’t get on the boat
Less strict controls are now coming to an end, with all the consequences associated with them. “I expect congestion on both sides,” says Miguel Navarro, Director of Customs, Control and Delivery at Customs Support from Rotterdam – Albrandswaard. “Last year, companies were able to continue driving immediately after entering the UK because the importer was allowed to defer the permit, and they were given six months to complete the paperwork after all. This will not be effective from 1 January. Then you have to clear customs immediately. Borders. If you don’t have your papers in order, you won’t get on the boat on the European side.”
Many companies were already stockpiling in Europe before the start of Brexit to avoid problems at the border. Trade flows are now almost back to their old levels. As of tomorrow, all agricultural and food commodities will also have to be pre-cleared. The question is whether the British are ready for that now.
Navarro has a hard time with this, because there is a lot at stake for the colleagues and not everyone is adequately prepared. This is why many importers are losers.
Additional staff trained
His company has things in order, says the customs agent at Customs Support. The company has grown strongly in recent years and has recruited and trained additional staff in the UK and in its offices in Europe. “We have more to do than ever before. We made the millionth announcement via our automated customs program this year, in part due to Brexit.”
Employees receive many questions from entrepreneurs about new agreements and rules. “Often it seems like a simple question, but the result is a complex answer. Customers think: we have the paperwork, we sell something and it is ready. But they have to select the entire chain, order commercial numbers (EORI) and register everything at customs. My advice: Get good information and choose a fully qualified customs agent to help you.”
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