How is Brexit impacting UK to EU Imports / Exports?

by Emma Forrester

The impacts of Brexit for UK to EU imports and exports have been rather over-shadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We saw extensive press coverage of the huge delays for Road Hauliers before Christmas when the borders were closed but we haven’t seen anywhere this level of press coverage about the impact of Brexit for Road Hauliers.

In early January we checked the mood and impact on the market so far. Here is what we found…

The majority of Road Hauliers and Freight Forwarders that we spoke to had already been providing their customers with customs clearance services prior to Brexit for trade outside of the EU. As a result of Brexit they ramped up this service to cope with the new requirements. 67% said that they received between 20% and 50% more requests for customs clearance services as a result of Brexit with 33% reporting an increase of up to 20%.

There was a 3-way split in terms of the additional admin burden incurred. Some

were struggling with the requirements claiming that it added more than an additional 30 minutes of their time per booking whereas an equal amount quoted 15 to 30 minutes and less than 15 minutes respectively. Those with on-line tools to assist customers to meet the requirements were incurring significantly less administration time, however insufficient customer knowledge in meeting the new requirement for documentation was frequently the reason for the additional burden. Some companies had systems that were directly linked to the government system guaranteeing that paperwork would

be sufficient which is a clear benefit.

In addition to increased admin time we asked if Road Hauliers were experiencing delays to journey times and why. The majority

reported delays of less than 1 hour. Causes for these delays were incorrect paperwork, Covid-19 tests, the need for drivers to call ahead before reaching some ports (taking 20 to 30 minutes) and finally any additional road


In terms of pricing there could be little long-term impact for large consignments as the fixed costs for customs declaration services

and additional safety and security declarations are a very small percentage of

the overall cost. It is the directly incurred costs that are the ones to watch. If delays increase or hauliers are less favourable to UK to EU routes then costs for equipment hire or 3rd party haulier services could increase as availability decreases.