One month before Brexit: Dachser says prepare for ‘hard’ times

With just a month to go before the March 29 deadline for the United Kingdom’s pullout from the European Union, and no kind of customs deal in place for a smooth transition, several logistics companies are attempting to step in with their own plans to avoid the expected Brexit chaos. One of the latest is Germany’s Dachser, which this week called for immediate action in preparation for delays.

Places such as Dover, England, and Calais and Dunkirk in France – both ends of the Eurotunnel, which currently handles 10,000 trucks per day – will be obvious “post-hard-Brexit” pinch points, as each truck would have to be stopped for inspection, with virtually no other alternate route to take across the English Channel.

“We recommend that our customers prepare for a potentially hard Brexit,” said Wolfgang Reinel, Dachser’s managing director of European logistics for the North Central Europe region. Companies that send or receive shipments from the U.K., he said, should re-examine their logistics chains, “consolidate shipments where possible” and monitor any build-up of “safety stocks” during expected waiting periods.

Should there be a hard Brexit, Dachser also warned about new bureaucratic hurdles for goods being shipped to the U.K. In such a scenario, customs procedures would automatically revert to WTO regulations, meaning importers/exporters from non-E.U. countries should prepare to fill out the necessary documentation well in advance of the end of March.

Currently, Dachser said, Dover and Calais want shippers to obtain prior customs registration to make border crossings as fast as possible. One option for importers/exporters, the forwarder said, would be to link the pre-established export procedures to the transporting truck license plate and, if possible, to allocate a collective Movement Reference Number (MRN). “As soon as the vehicle is at the terminal and boards the ferry or enters the Eurotunnel, it would be approved for exit once it reaches the other side of the channel, in a largely automated process,” Dachser said. “Controls at the customs terminal would no longer be necessary, except for spot checks.”

In both the U.K. and the E.U., the EORI (Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification) numbers, as well as correct product classifications for the goods being transported, can all be prepared in advance, including customs-related commercial documents or commercial invoices, said Vinzenz Hingerl, department head for customs at Dachser.

Dachser recommended that shippers and forwarders become familiar with the requirements of the UK Trade Tariff that would come into effect following a hard Brexit, and would be used to calculate future customs duties after March 29.

“Uncertainties are part and parcel of the logistics business,” Reinel said. “The U.K. is and will remain an important part of Dachser’s European network. We are posting continuous growth there, and despite the disruptions that Brexit could cause, we expect that this positive trend will continue for our U.K. country organization.”

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