Incorrectly filled-out forms, missing data and documents: Even over 5 weeks after the UK left the EU, goods transports via the Channel are still fraught with obstacles – particularly to the detriment of British companies. For die-hard Brexiteers, these barriers to trade are acceptable. Not so for manufacturers, forwarders, and a growing number of consumers, however.
"Our cross-channel transports are running smoothly, not without problems, but they are working reasonably acceptably," says Martin Araman, co-owner of the Sovereign Group, a neutral transportation and handling specialist for courier shipments, air freight, and road transports. It could also have been worse, as the examples of DB Schenker, and the courier express parcel service provider, dpd, belonging to the French Post Office, show. Both temporarily stopped their delivery services to and from the UK due to missing or incorrectly filled out shipment documents.
According to Araman, his Hamburg-based company currently has an average of 10 channel crossings per night from continental Europe to the United Kingdom, which is of course a very small number compared to heavy weights such as DB Schenker or dpd.
Multiple control of shipment documents
The manageable amount is an advantage in this case, since the number of incorrectly documented shipments is limited. "In addition, we trained our staff in the EU and also in the UK before Brexit, in order to be ready on go-live day: 1.1.2021."
Plus, an additional checkpoint was implemented. To prevent shipments originating in Germany or Austria from being stranded in Dover, Sovereign experts closely check their shipping documents at the Cologne gateway. "If data is missing or documents are filled out incorrectly, the goods remain in Cologne until the errors are resolved," says manager Araman.
Since Brexit, the bureaucratic regulations have clearly increased, he reports. In most cases, it is the consignors who incorrectly declare shipments and provide wrong data which requires subsequent correction, taking up time and slowing down the flow of shipments.
Especially in the case of goods traveling from Great Britain to the EU, there are often delays in the processes. Conversely, the supply chains work much better, Sovereign Speed knows. UK-based medium-sized exporters in particular are often unfamiliar with the new customs regulations, Hendrik Bender, Sovereign's Head of Group Business Development & Marketing, regrets. "They probably trusted Johnson's words that after the introduction of the Brexit and a short period of familiarization, everything would continue as before," the manager says.
Slowed Supply Chains
A mistake, as is clear now. This is also reported by Sovereign, whose transports from the island to mainland Europe take considerably more time than before. In some cases, up to four days, according to Araman. Since 01JAN21, shippers and loaders have been confronted with complicated shipment procedures and with a plethora of new accompanying documents, along with new rules on import turnover tax in order to process them correctly and thus avoid the congestion of consignments at the border.
Brexit has changed even more. Since 01JAN21, UK or EU exporters have to classify their goods exactly according to the HS Classification Code, possess an Economic Operators´ Registration and Identification number (EORI), and state whether customs duties are to be paid for all goods transported or only for some of them. These subtleties are overwhelming, particularly for some medium-sized companies, which leads to errors and delays in the day-to-day business.
Customs system with gaps and pitfalls
"The customs system in the UK is not optimally set up. Usually, when you need information, you are unable to reach anyone, so that prevents acute problems from being resolved quickly," says Bjoern Lehnert, Customs Expert at Sovereign Speed.
All in all, however, cross-channel transports work fairly well, Martin Araman sums up after 5 weeks of post-Brexit experience. The communication effort is high, and clarification is still urgently required, because many customers continue to lack basic knowledge about the new customs regulations, he says. This is in line with the findings of the German Transport and Logistics Association (DSLV). According to the Association, up to 80% of shipments moving between the UK and mainland Europe are currently declared incorrectly or not at all. "So far, many companies have only traded within the EU Single Market. Most logistics customers, British ones in particular, still do not seem to realize that the rules governing transport with the European continent are no longer the same as those of the Single Market," Frank Huster, Chief Executive of the DSLV, summarizes companies’ experiences.
Unlike land transport, Sovereign Speed's air freight shuttle operates smoothly between Germany and Birmingham. "In the case of particularly urgent and valuable goods, we deploy our two Cessnas to transport them to the island and to export shipments there to continental Europe. So there have not been any customs problems despite the new Brexit rules."
Hendrik Bender becomes member of the Forbes Business Development Council
Meanwhile, Sovereign Speed has announced that Hendrik Bender has been accepted into Forbes Business Development Council; an invitation-only community for senior-level sales and business development executives.
"I am honored to be accepted into Forbes Council for Business Development to represent Sovereign. I can't wait to network with all the other international members, and, above all, I look forward to contributing experiences from the European market, and equally to adapting potential innovations from the many American members and vice versa to roll out the Sovereign innovations worldwide,” Hendrik Bender says with pride.
As an accepted member of the Council, Hendrik has access to a variety of exclusive opportunities designed to help him reach peak professional influence. He will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum. Hendrik will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share his expert insights in original business articles on Forbes.com, and to contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.
Finally, Hendrik, and therefore Sovereign, will benefit from exclusive access to dedicated business service partners, membership-branded marketing collateral, and the high-touch support of the Forbes Councils member concierge team.
"We are honored to welcome Hendrik Bender into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Business Development Council. "Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”
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