Issues with EU Exports

Traders should discuss with their  logistics provider / freight forwarder the practicalities, options and costs of continuing to supply EU based customers and import from EU based suppliers after Brexit. It may be that the solution involves using a different route whether by sea or even air transport. Obviously, questions of economics will arise.

It is very hard to know what the additional costs and delays might be involved in using the UK land bridge after Brexit, in particular, a hard Brexit. Apart from issues of costs and procedures, there are very likely to be considerable delays and logjams in the event of a hard Brexit. It is not clear whether the cost of the delays plus the cost of additional compliance makes using the land bridge uneconomic. This is something traders need to assess.

It may be that even after a hard Brexit the position might be that with effective waivers and a very light touch on the part of the EU and UK authorities, that use of the land bridge will return to something closer to how it operates at present. This may take some time. All of this is quite hard to predict.

Transit Procedure

When goods move from Ireland to the EU or from the EU to Ireland through the UK land bridge, the customs process of transit applies. Transit is a procedure by which goods move under customs control. It requires prior returns to the revenue authority at the point of departure.

The customs return has almost all the same details as an import declaration or an export declaration. On acceptance by the revenue authority a reference number and document issue, which accompanies the goods.The consignor and consignee are named in the context of the procedure, but they are not necessarily holder of the procedure.

The issue of transit raises similar considerations to that of customs declarations and returns generally. Transit declarations can be undertaken by a logistics provider / freight forwarder or the trader. The party making the returns is usually the holder of the procedure. The holder is usually the person controlling the goods who may be exporter carrier. There are practical difficulties for the importer in holding the procedure although it is possible in principle.

Practical Considerations

The circumstances posed by the Irish land bridge involving double ferry crossings and the crossing of an external territory leaving the EU before re-entering the EU is relatively unique. Most experience in the area of transit to date relates to very different circumstances.

It remains to be seen how internal EU transit will work for the UK land bridge. There are a number of practical issues that need to be teased out. It is hoped that a longer term agreement may involve preference for transit traffic through Dover.

It is not clear how quickly additional shipping capacity can come on line to allow more direct shipments to continental Europe. All things being equal, the route is slower in most cases. Even if new capacity can be brought on line, it may take time for the port infrastructure and capacity to catch up.

Unlike the case of an import and export, it would not be necessary that traders’ EU based buyer undertakes an import like procedure. It is necessary that the transit procedure is discharged on arrival in continental Europe (or Ireland in the reverse case).  The consignee may enjoy simplifications allowing it to discharge the procedure at its premises. Alternatively, is something the carrier may do if it undertakes the procedure itself.

Making Transit Declarations

The logistics provider / freight forwarder / freight forwarder would usually be in the better position to undertake the relevant procedures, especially where there are grouped consignments. Given the required interaction with the authorities on continental Europe, they are likely best positioned to undertake it efficiently, directly or  through their correspondents and agents.

They may enjoy simplifications which let them undertake the process at their premises. It is also appropriate where a guarantee has been given and they control the risk that they are the party who takes the risk.

In the case of imports from the EU through the UK landbridge, the holder of the procedure or its correspondent,  would need to have custom software that interacts with the local customs office for the supplier or at the very least at some point prior to where the goods would leave the EU, often Calais.

Transit software using the NCT system, may require that the consignor is an authorised consignor.Although the EU customs IT systems are highly aligned, the Irish principal custom software providers are adapted for the Irish and’ in the context of Brexit the UK customs systems. They are not necessarily adapted to continental European customs.

It is necessary to present the goods to the continental EU office of departure. Traders would need to present the goods unless  enjoy simplifications locally. Traders would need the transport company to arrange for their presentation to the revenue authority.

Even if it was feasible to obtain a guarantee to satisfy the requirement of the revenue in the EU country of export, it would not be appropriate in most cases for traders to carry the guarantee risk as they would  have even less control on the movement than would be the case for example in an export which traders originated.


The holder of the procedure would need to have a guarantee to support transit declarations. This must be given by an approved bank or insurance company. If traders are also paying customs duty on imports or deferred VAT, they may have a customs guarantee in that context.

A guarantee must be entered by the  holder of the procedure. This guarantee covers losses to revenue arising from interference or removal while outside of the EU. The movement of the goods is tracked on exiting the EU through the UK land bridge and re-entering the EU (and vice versa). When re-entering the EU in Dublin in the case of an import or at Calais in the case of an export, the goods are checked again to confirm that they have arrived intact. It is desirable that the consignee is authorised to discharge the procedure at its premises, rather than at the port, which would require checking of seals etc.

Traders or carriers who are holders of the procedure may use a standing guarantee, where they are holder of the procedure. Where the guarantee is given by the logistics provider / freight forwarder, there  may be residual matters which arise from the way in which traders provide goods or the nature of goods which causes the guarantee to be triggered against logistics provider / freight forwarder in respect of which they would need some kind of counter indemnity by traders.

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