To support our customers through Brexit, we’ve put together a short guide to how International Forwarding Ltd is dealing with Brexit. We’ve also included some recommendations for anyone using freight forwarding and logistics services in the UK and some technology changes you need to be aware of.
1. Weekly Brexit briefings
The board is holding weekly update Brexit briefing meetings. This is a two-way process dealing with both the latest input from HM Customs and industry trade associations while also flagging issues raised by customers, staff and IFL’s international partners. We then feed back to government and trade bodies where the board feels that further input is required from them.
2. Answering your concerns
IFL welcomes Brexit-related enquiries and has already dealt with specific issues raised by customers. We will be addressing some of the more commonly asked questions on our website, where we continue to publish Brexit updates. Customers can get also email us – contact us here.
3. ‘No deal’ contingency planning
Contingency planning in the case of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU should be part of any international business’s risk assessment and mitigation. For the latest official advice and information, we recommend HMRC’s Partnership Pack, which focuses on how VAT, Customs and Excise could be affected. This is broken down by audience/topic: EU and non-EU traders, exporters, importers, haulage companies, freight forwarders and so on. The information will be updated with other policies that will impact trade at the border.
4. Look for AEO status
With little clarity and a lot of uncertainty around post-Brexit logistics, there are some steps we recommend customers take to protect their supply chain. One is to look for exporters, importers, freight forwarders and customs brokers with Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status. International Forwarding has had AEO accreditation since 2010. We think AEO status will give companies a head start in trade facilitation during the post-Brexit transition period. Indeed, HM Customs has confirmed that AEO companies will be subject to less rigorous regime changes post-Brexit – which translates to a smoother supply chain.
5. Customs clearance help
International Forwarding has its own Dover office offering hassle-free importing with specialist 24/7 customs clearance services. Whatever happens post-Brexit Dover port will continue to be the main gateway with the EU. The board considers a physical presence at Dover, in conjunction with AEO, essential to facilitate exports/imports on behalf of the company’s customers.
6. Technology changes
Hi-tech transport tracking systems are part of government plans to help resolve logistical issues created by the UK’s EU exit. But the existing HM Customs computer system handling export/import declarations (CHIEF) is 20 years old and a planned new system known as Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is already being phased in. The software is now being updated to cope with various Brexit scenarios and International Forwarding’s IT department is fully up to date with the latest developments in this field. Here is further guidance on how to prepare for CDS. Or read the short version in our Brexit tips for importer and exporters.
7. Stockpiling fears
Fears of a ‘no deal’ Brexit are already leading to stockpiling to ensure deliveries aren’t disrupted. Whatever the final Brexit scenario, International Forwarding anticipates many customers will be looking at additional warehousing facilities for short-term or longer-term storage solutions. The IFL board has responded to this by investing in significant extra warehousing facilities at our main Coleshill site. Our Birmingham hub is at the heart of the UK’s motorway network, just 10 minutes from Birmingham International Airport and with fast onward connections to all parts of the UK and Europe’s main transport hubs.
8. Common Transit Convention
The UK government announced on 18 December that the UK will become a member of the Common Transit Convention (CTC) in its own right after Brexit. This means that goods between the UK and EU member states, the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia will not need import-export customs declarations when transiting across multiple customs territories and that duties will not be payable until the goods arrive at their final destination.
This is a positive development but does not have any impact on the post-Brexit trading relationship between the UK and the EU as far as tariffs and customs arrangements are concerned. This is still a matter for the politicians to deal with.