21 December 2020

Deal or No Deal: Customs agents prepared for 1 January 2021

As from 1 January 2021, following the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom will leave the EU Customs Union which means that businesses that operate between the EU and the UK will need to deal with customs procedures.  CLECAT had hoped a deal could still be achieved before Christmas, even though this would not have changed the need to be prepared for customs requirements when trading between the EU and the UK.  Unfortunately this now seems to be out of reach.  Whereas a deal can potentially ease border controls, because of a much easier tariff regime on imports and exports, it does not change the need to be ready for customs declarations.     

Dimitri Sérafimoff, chair of the Customs Institute of CLECAT noted: 'CLECAT members, including customs agents and freight forwarders, in particular those with important traffic flows with the UK, have done everything they can to prepare for the end of transition period; they have invested in IT solutions, new staff, parking lots and communication campaigns to inform all parties in the supply chains on the need to get ready.'  However, with only 6 working days until the end of the transition, capacity is tight and shippers that have failed to make the necessary preparations will ‘miss the boat.’ CLECAT therefore calls on those that are not ready, to delay their shipments and to make the necessary preparations to avoid bottlenecks.   

Both the EU and the UK have over the last weeks put in place robust contingency plans to deal with any disruption when the transition period ends on 31 December. Today, however we are again confronted with chaos following the decision of France to shut down freight transport to and from the UK after the UK identified a new strain of Covid-19.  CLECAT calls on EU Member States to follow the practical guidance from the European Commission to ensure a continuous flows of goods via green lanes and to resume freight transport as soon as possible.