In our January article, Covid And Brexit In 2022, we looked at what may be on the horizon as potential challenges for the courier and haulage industry. One area we looked at was that as of 1 January 2022, exports between Great Britain and the EU would become subject to full customs controls. As we have been under these checks for several weeks now, we look at what has actually been happening.

What was the major customs change

Before 1 January 2022, HMRC allowed a delay of up to 175 days for companies to submit customs declarations. That ability to delay submissions ended. However, for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they’re still exempt from the changes whilst further negotiating of the Northern Ireland protocol continues.

Long queues for Dover

In the first month, it was reported that lorries bound for the Port of Dover had to queue, at some times, over a four mile stretch of the A20. Highways England activated the Traffic Action Protocol (TAP), permitting the use of one lane of the A20 for port-bound traffic; this was done on the request of the port and with quite some frequency. Unite estimates that checking drivers’ paperwork at the terminal is adding around ten minutes to any boarding times for each vehicle adding to delays.

Why the delays

Transporting goods from the UK to the EU now means that hauliers need to use the Goods Vehicle Movement System (GVMS). GVMS is the government’s new IT portal to obtain customs clearance at ports.

Sam Lowe, a trade specialist at Flint Global: “The system is designed to minimise the compliance procedure but it is still more burdensome than it was before Brexit, when there was no compliance.”

The government insists any queues at Dover had nothing to do with Brexit and that ferry maintenance was to blame for the congestion.

Doug Bannister, chief executive of the port: checks were indeed causing delays but the refitting of some ferries was adding to the pressure. When asked on Sky News at the time if any part of the delays was down to Brexit, Doug Bannister said: “Certainly. The introduction of the full customs checks that came in on the 1 January … that additional time to process is indeed as a result of Brexit.”

Independent: Truck drivers have reported queuing for up to eight hours trying to get through customs controls at Calais, with some lorries pulled aside because problems with the new paperwork needed to be sorted out.

Away from customs at Dover

As mentioned previously, the rules are not in place for goods through Northern Ireland’s ports. To take advantage of the slightly looser post-Brexit checks, it has seen an increase in freight traffic. Stena Line said that it was operating freight capacity at its highest-ever level on the company’s Belfast to Liverpool Birkenhead service. Goods traded between Ireland and Britain at Belfast and other Northern Irish ports have had less rigorous checks applied when compared to moving goods between Ireland and Britain. Belfast Harbour reported increased trade in 2021 and this has continued on in 2022.

With spare capacity at the Port of Hull and to avoid the congestion seen at roads leading to Dover, some have made use of the port as an alternative. However, freight being shipped between Hull and Rotterdam was also taking twice as long to clear both ports when compared with clearance times before the implementation of rules at the beginning of the year.

What next

We’ve already experienced the challenges of supply chains, Covid and lorry driver shortages and this adds to the costs on hauliers and particularly if the other issues continue.

For the food and drink industry, the consequences may be a little more challenging. The change adds more paperwork for businesses and also prompts fears of increased costs, more disruption and some EU food producers no longer wanting to continue supplying into Britain.

PML (global logistics and supply chain firm): “the change has generated an extra 30 minutes’ paperwork for even a smooth-running consignment, and hours of work for more complex assignments.”

Once again, businesses will need to further adjust as one more challenge is faced. It will only when a full year cycle of business has occurred that we can reflect and see the winners and losers in the new Brexit era.

Stay ahead of competitors and see if we can help at Same Day Couriers Direct with the customs checks for you, just get in touch with our friendly and helpful team on 0333 772 1010 or use our contact form.

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