French DPD Group, German logistics giants DB Schenker, and partially also DHL, have stopped trucking goods from the EU to the UK until further notice. The measure, which came into force last week, has been criticized by many British firms. Schenker argues that the decision to stop supplies was caused by chaos in the documentation of customs and import formalities as result of Brexit.
According to DB Schenker Europe’s Head of Marketing and Communication, Maximilian Floegel, as much as 90% of all shipments traveling from the EU to the UK are incorrectly documented. To get the
goods moving anyway, “we have to call each individual consignee to ask him to provide the correct or missing data in order to get the retained goods cleared by customs.“
This brings Schenker’s task force, built long before the UK exited the EU, near to the brink of collapse.
Due to the many irregularities, hiccups, and complaints, Schenker pulled the emergency brake last Wednesday (13JAN21) and stopped accepting any goods trucked from continental Europe to the UK. So did others, as stated above.
Johnson’s word was worth nothing
A person close to matter told CargoForwarder Global that many consignees relied on the promises of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who emphasized more than once that there would not be any customs problems once Brexit came into effect. A fundamental error, as evidenced now.
How long the embargo will last, is a matter of speculation. According to Schenker, supply chains will get back to normal again once the current data problems are eliminated. This might take a while because they are very multilayered.
Required are, for instance, new safety and security declarations, and commercial invoices containing precise and relevant information on the goods ordered by a UK importer. The authorities also demand a new Economic Operator’s Registration and Identification Number (UK EORI number). Wood packaging material that traveled unrestricted and uncontrolled across the Channel until 31DEC20, now needs a declaration that it was heated at a minimum temperature of 56°C for a duration of at least 30 continuous minutes to prevent bugs entering the UK.
In a nutshell, the list of documents required by customs authorities is almost endless. It explains why Schenker and its peers are extremely busy getting the missing information and shipment data by telephone as well as they can, to prevent the goods from getting sidelined by British customs officials upon arrival in the UK.
However, according to experts, there is another interpretation of the embargo: the import sales tax. Freight forwarders must initially pay this levy out of their own pockets and will be reimbursed at a later date. However, warned by the Brexit chaos and customs regulations that are interpretable in different ways, they do not trust this tax system, and refuse to make an advance payment. This could tie up large sums of money as shown by Schenker, which trucks 500,000 shipments per year from the EU to the UK.
In contrast, the flow of commodities coming from the UK and destined to customers in the EU, is running more or less at normal levels, because the volumes going that way are significantly lower.
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