Six months after Brexit


At the stroke of midnight on 30 December 2020, the United Kingdom officially withdrew its membership in the European Union. The Brexit, with its withdrawal from the European Customs Union and Single Market, was a fact. On 1 January, new rules were introduced on border controls and the trade in goods. What followed were images of traffic chaos and stranded truckers at the ports. What impact did Distrilog Group experience? A short evaluation.

2106 DISTRILOG Brexit illustratie

Customs formalities for imports

The ‘British Exit’ is felt in Distrilog’s Import Department, responsible for container transport. This department handles the administrative processing of imports from third countries for various customers – countries that are not part of the EU – which, since 1 January, also includes the United Kingdom.

Goods originating in the UK must continue to comply with European laws and regulations. However, for product and food safety, they must also be accompanied by the necessary customs documentation. These documents are presented on arrival, processed, and cleared so that the goods are in ‘free circulation’ status. Before the Brexit, no customs formalities were carried out when importing goods from the UK. After all, it was still part of the European Union at the time.

In any case, this change has not led to less work; on the contrary. However, the Brexit has not led to any delays at Distrilog Group. “Concrete guidelines and good communication with the customers concerned ensure that the incoming documents are handled and released smoothly. This – combined with a timely reservation of a slot by the carrier – makes it possible to avoid extra waiting time,” says Patrick Van Berckelaer, head of our Forwarding Department.

Export waiting times

The impact of the Brexit is also noticeable for the activities at our site at the Kluizendok in Ghent (Evergem). Among other things, BP-Castrol’s shipments for the UK are prepared and loaded at this location. According to site manager Ann Buyl, the waiting times at the external customs office are particularly annoying: “This waiting time is 1.5 to 2 hours on average, but can be up to 4 hours in exceptional cases. Moreover, the office closes at 6 p.m. This means we have to make sure that all the shipments are ready in the morning so that they can be loaded immediately, since we can only ask for the customs forms afterwards.”

Another adjustment is that the goods to the UK now have to be transported on fumigated pallets. “These pallets have been specially pretreated to counteract harmful organisms in the wood,” says Buyl. This must also be indicated in the customs documentation.

Although the Brexit entailed some adjustments and additional administration, we note that the impact for Distrilog Group and its clients remained limited thanks to the commitment and adaptability of our employees and organisation. Excellent communication with the customers involved also contributed to a smooth transition.

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At Distrilog Group, we like to take into account the wishes and needs of the customer. This is why we are happy to help you find the best solution. Curious about the available options? You’re welcome to contact us.