Prepare for Brexit, customs has been calling for months, with a laundry list of things that companies had to arrange. Yet not all companies have their affairs in order, fears Evofenedex, the trade association that has carriers and manufacturing companies as a member.
Before Brexit, no special customs permit was required for trade with the United Kingdom (UK). That changes. “But we see that relatively few customs permits have been applied for,” says Evofenedex policy advisor Godfried Smit.
From delay comes cancellation. Due to the long period of uncertainty, some companies have postponed measures. “There are companies that are very well prepared, but also companies that have not.”
We don’t have to immediately fear empty shelves. The same applies to the British: many companies have a large stock. So they can move forward for a while. This applies, among other things, to an English importer of toilet rolls, which has stock for weeks.
“Entrepreneurs who do not export or import fresh produce will wait calmly for January”, Smit expects. This is different for fresh products and medicines with a short shelf life.
“They have to, but we expect that there will still be congestion in the first two months at the logistics hubs, such as at the ferries. Then everyone has to get used to the new situation.”
From 1 January, companies must pre-register goods going to the UK by ferry via a digital system. No documents submitted? Then no crossing.
About 6 percent of the goods are not yet registered, according to the Port of Rotterdam Authority. And some of the registered goods may still be missing data at the moment.
Buffer parking spaces
Various lockable parking spaces have been set up in the port area to accommodate trucks if drivers do not have their papers in order. Those drivers will not have access to the ferry terminals of DFDS and P&O and Stena Line.
With the help of signage and traffic controllers, the drivers are sent to the nearest buffer parking space.
There should be enough space there, but if local traffic on the N15 and therefore traffic on the A15 threatens to get stuck, there is a backup.
In the traffic control centers in Rhoon (Rotterdam) and Velsen, Rijkswaterstaat employees keep an eye on traffic. The traffic circulation plans are ready. Freight traffic can already be sent a different route at Venlo.
No import duties
The free trade agreement signed just before Christmas has prevented some of the hassle. Europe and the United Kingdom have agreed that there will be no mutual import duties on goods.
Without an agreement, trade would have to take place under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Cargo to the English will then be treated in the same way as cargo to, say, China. Export companies would then have to pay customs duties
There is still a problem, says Godfried Smit. “It is very difficult for the British to see whether a product is European enough to be allowed through.”
The zero percent rule is clear for apples grown and picked in the Netherlands, for example. But many products consist of parts from different countries. Smit: “For example, a car contains parts from ninety countries. That makes it complicated. And the customer does not know how something is assessed and how expensive it will therefore be.”
The new rules will take effect on Friday. The British have promised to deal with it smoothly. On New Year’s Day, trading is largely at a standstill, so the first real test is expected on Monday, January 4.
What will change for you?
A lot is changing, not only for entrepreneurs. Consumers will also notice the effects of Brexit. What consequences in a row.
– Shop till you drop, but not anymore. You can only bring goods from the United Kingdom for EUR 430. If you’ve shopped for more money in a city like London, you should report it to customs.
– From October you will need a passport to travel to the UK. An identity card is then no longer enough.
– KPN, VodafoneZiggo and T-Mobile have promised not to change anything for the time being. But they may start charging roaming charges for internet and calling traffic if you are in a non-EU country.