Brexit and IFL: Our guide for freight and logistics customers

Brexit and IFL: Our guide for freight and logistics customers

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.

This page guidance has now been updated: Getting ready for Brexit – import and export changes from 1 Jan 2021 [July 2020]

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. Apply for an EORI number

We advise all affected traders to apply for an Export Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number as you will need this to move goods into or out of the EU after the Brexit transition or after a no-deal. The EORI number will basically be the exporter’s VAT registration number with three digits added to identify the location originating the export. Companies who export outside the EU already require an EORI number. The important point post-Brexit is that an EORI number will be required for both EU and non-EU exports. You can apply through the site and many have already done so. On 21 August 2019, HMRC announced it will start automatically enrolling companies in the scheme, allocating EORI numbers to more than 88,000 VAT-registered companies across the UK  in order to keep trading with EU customers and suppliers after the UK leaves. Non-VAT-registered companies will have to apply directly through Further government preparation advice is also available here.

6. Customs clearance help

International Forwarding has its own Dover agent offering hassle-free importing with specialist 24/7 customs clearance services. Post-Brexit Dover port will continue to be the main gateway with the EU. The board considers our Dover agent services, in conjunction with AEO, essential to facilitate exports/imports on behalf of the company’s customers.

7. Classify your goods correctly

Exporters/importers should check they have classified their goods correctly. Here’s HMRC’s Trade Tariff tool to help you find the correct tariff classification number or commodity code for your goods. Getting this right ensures you pay the right VAT, duty, excise or levies due under UK and European law, and helps us with preparing the correct Customs entries for you.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Switzerland

The UK and Swiss governments have concluded a bi-lateral agreement. This means that the existing customs procedures and controls will not change for UK/Swiss/UK traffic irrespective of the Brexit outcome. More information is available from or visit our Switzerland freight page for details of our daily Swiss service.



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