As of 1 January: no document, no transport!

Brexit deal means customs formalities at the border

Get Ready for Brexit newsletter of 29 December 2020 – The Brexit deal that was concluded just before Christmas is clear: as of the 1st of January 2021, every transport to and from the United Kingdom starts with customs formalities. No customs document means no transport in the new year. Only cargo for which a customs document has been digitally pre-notified beforehand via Portbase is permitted to enter and leave the ferry or shortsea terminal. In this way, pre-notified cargo always quickly travels via the Dutch ports in the new year as well.

View our newsletter of 29 December 2020.

Newsletter: The countdown has truly commenced: are you ready for Brexit?

With only about three weeks to go until Brexit, anyone who is not yet prepared must really hurry. Deal or no deal: customs formalities will irrevocably be in place for cargo traffic with the United Kingdom as of the 1st of January 2021. Only cargo that has been …

Check out our newsletter of the month December 2020.

Get ready for Brexit: important information for UK transport – No customs document? No digital pre-registration at the ferry terminal? Then no crossing!
Due to Brexit there will be customs formalities in freight traffic with the United Kingdom, effective from 1 January 2021. This has major consequences when you visit the Dutch ferry terminals. Without having a digital pre-registered customs document in Portbase you will be denied access to the ferry terminal.

For more information, please see here.

‘A suitable software solution for everyone’

“A software supplier has already explored the paths for communicating with the systems of Dutch (and sometimes even British) Customs and Portbase,” says Jan Akkermans, who acts on behalf of a large number of software suppliers that work together in Alliantie Douane Software (Alliance Customs Software). “As a company, you no longer need to do all that work yourself. Bureaucratic processes are involved that one must be familiar with. Bearing this is mind, what could be better than a software supplier providing a turnkey solution? They have already addressed everything that is necessary for Brexit in the preliminary phase.”

For large and small companies
As a company, it is important that you choose a software supplier that suits you, emphasises Akkermans. “You can spend tens of thousands of euros on a software solution, but with only three shipments per year, paying per declaration is obviously much more attractive. That diversity of solutions is available, especially regarding Customs matters.”

Advice to importers and exporters
For Brexit, Akkermans advises importers and exporters to look for solutions that combine a customs declaration with automatic pre-notification via Portbase. “This combination of software may be slightly more expensive to purchase, but ultimately it is still cheaper than performing an action twice or having to find a transport company that can arrange the Portbase process for you. The more automated, the easier.”

Weighing up alternatives
“Of course, you can also use a logistics service provider or customs broker for the entire declaration and pre-notification process,” says Akkermans. “Many of those parties provide solid automation. However, they are often already fully booked. In the search for a Brexit solution, you will really have to consider whether this is a feasible alternative or whether you would be better off making sure that you are self-reliant.”

Need advice? The Alliance Customs Software can help.

Brexit: no extension of transition period; consequences in Dutch ports immediately after 31 December 2020

Portbase – The UK formally left the EU on the 31st of January 2020. Since that date, a transition period has been in effect which will come to an end on the 31st of December 2020. During this period, all EU rules and laws continue to be applicable to the UK; virtually nothing will change for citizens and companies in the EU and the UK. They have time to prepare for the new agreements that the EU and the UK will establish regarding their future relationship after the 31st of December 2020.

Transition period
The transition period could have been extended had both parties agreed to do so prior to the 1st of July 2020. However, the British have indicated that they do not want to do this. Now that the deadline of the 1st of July has expired, it is no longer possible to extend the transition period under the Withdrawal Agreement.

New relationship
This means that the UK and the EU have until this autumn to reach consensus on the new relationship between both parties. The new agreements must come into effect after the transition period expires on the 31st of December 2020. They will first need to be ratified by the EU countries, the British Parliament and the European Parliament. If an agreement on a new trade relationship cannot be reached, then both parties will revert to the rules of the World Trade Organisation (including higher import duties and rules for product acceptance, for example) at the end of the transition period. Negotiations are currently in a difficult phase and the EU and the UK still substantially disagree on important issues. Both parties have committed to start negotiating more intensively.

Customs formalities a fact as of 1 January 2021
Irrespective of what the outcome of the negotiations may be, companies will always have to deal with customs formalities. Even if both parties do reach consensus on a trade relationship. Take countries such as Norway and Switzerland, for example. Extensive trade relationships exist with these countries and they are also subject to customs formalities such as declarations. Once the current transition period comes to an end on the 1st of January 2021, the free movement of goods to and from the United Kingdom will no longer be possible. This applies to both shortsea traffic and ferry traffic. Companies need to prepare for this new reality.

For more information, please visit

Brexit is a done deal, but with Portbase you’re well-prepared – Now that the Brexit has taken place, the European Union and the United Kingdom are negotiating the terms of their new trade relations. No matter the outcome of these talks, however, it is certain that you will encounter Customs obligations. Once the current transition period ends – i.e. from 1 January 2021 – it will no longer be possible to freely exchange goods with parties in the UK. This applies to both shortsea and ferry transport.

You have already subscribed to one or more Portbase services belonging to the chain-wide ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ solution: Notification Import Documentation, Notification Export Documentation (including Track & Trace Export) and/or Import Status. The use of these services will enable you to continue quickly transporting goods via the Dutch ports after 1 January 2021. A number of shortsea terminals are already using the services for transport to and from other countries outside the EU.

Portbase Support
We naturally provide assistance to help you make a quick, easy start with our Get Ready for Brexit services. For useful instructional videos, manuals, the answers to frequently asked questions and more, please refer to our Portbase Support pages.

More Portbase services post-Brexit
Portbase offers even more services that can considerably streamline your Customs formalities following the Brexit. For instance: the service Declaration Food and Consumer Products for declaring veterinary cargoes. Following the Brexit, it will be possible to use this service for cargoes transported both by container and trailer. Other options specifically for container transport are: the service Transit Declaration for follow-up declarations, Inspections Portal for comprehensive oversight of potential Customs inspections, Notification Local Clearance for making use of streamlined Customs procedures and Cargo information for direct access to your own Bills of Lading (B/L’s) on board the ships. Further details on each service can be found on the service pages of our website. You can sign up to participate straight away via the website as well.

Brexit has arrived – now it’s time for a good trade agreement – After the European Parliament voted its consent to the withdrawal agreement on Wednesday, the United Kingdom (UK) officially withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020. This will have consequences for trade between Rotterdam and the UK. Depending on the terms agreed for the new UK-EU relationship, free trade will be impeded to a greater or lesser extent by new formalities, tariffs, quality regulations and environmental standards. In practice, there will be no concrete changes until 31 December 2020 at the earliest, since 31 January marks the start of a transition period.

During this transition period, the EU and the UK will enter into negotiations on their future partnership after 31 December 2020. For the port of Rotterdam, it is crucial that the ensuing treaty arranges the most favourable conditions for the import, export and transit of goods between the two markets. As far as the UK and EU’s respective customs, veterinary and phytosanitary formalities are concerned, this calls for uniform terms wherever possible. Every day, some 3,000 trucks drive to and from the ferry terminals in the port of Rotterdam, and over 40 million tonnes of goods are imported or exported between Rotterdam and British hubs.

Together with Portbase, Dutch Customs, Rijkswaterstaat and the ferry terminals, the port of Rotterdam has done its best to adequately prepare for Brexit. By using Portbase, parties can continue to export and import goods without further complications. It is important in this context that all parties in the chain register with Portbase. Whatever shape the EU-UK partnership will take in the years ahead, it will in any case involve additional formalities and checks. In other words, registering with Portbase is truly a ‘no-regrets investment’.

At the end of 2020, we may once again be confronted with a hard Brexit – similar to earlier deadlines on 29 March, 12 April and 31 October 2019 – if the EU and the UK do not manage to conclude a trade agreement or there is no clarity regarding a possible extension of the transition period. In that case, the port of Rotterdam, Dutch Customs, Rijkswaterstaat, the Municipality of Rotterdam and NVWA will once again take new measures to limit the impact of Brexit as far as possible.

The Brexit is now a reality – Pursuant to the decision by the British Parliament, the European Parliament has adopted the Brexit agreement and on 31 January 2020 (at midnight Central European Time), the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. The Brexit is now a reality. A transitional phase is now in effect and will continue through 31 December 2020. The UK will continue to be subject to all EU laws and regulations during this period. So far, nothing has changed for the Dutch ports and businesses in the logistical chains. They can continue to transport their goods just as they have done in past years. Please note that customs obligations will go into effect after the transitional period.

During the transitional period, the EU and UK will make agreements regarding how their relationship will proceed after 31 December 2020. Yet no matter the substance of these agreements, it is inevitable that customs formalities will be introduced for goods moving from the EU to the UK or vice versa. Businesses can use the period through 31 December to prepare themselves for this new reality. Please make sure you are ready in time. Only by working together can we avoid unnecessary delays.

The British people have spoken: Brexit on course

Portbase – In yesterday’s elections in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party of Boris Johnson won a landslide majority in parliament. The British Prime Minister is now expected to press ahead his Brexit deal and try to gain approval from the House of Commons as quickly as possible. The United Kingdom will then exit the European Union in an orderly manner by the 31st of January 2020 at the latest.

What does this mean for you?
If Brexit does indeed proceed as per the agreed deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union, nothing will change in terms of trade for the time being. A transition period will apply until the 31st of December 2020. After that, customs formalities for which you will still require the Portbase services will come into effect in the Dutch ports.

Crucial date: 1st of July
The 1st of July constitutes an important date in the transition period. Before this date, the British must state whether they think that they will be able to finalise the new trade relationship by the 31st of December 2020. The United Kingdom must then decide whether they want to extend the transition period by two years.

Please note! No-deal Brexit not ruled out
Recent history has shown that nothing is certain when it comes to Brexit. A no-deal Brexit remains possible, although the likelihood of this is diminished by the election results. Only after ratification by both parties can a no-deal Brexit be ruled out. By preparing now, you prevent the risk of coming to a standstill in the port after the 31st of January 2020. Your effort is never wasted. If a deal is reached, customs formalities will also be in effect in the ports after a transitional period.

Brexit postponement – Brexit is again postponed. The European Union has submitted a draft decision for the extension of the Article 50 deadline to 31 January 2020 to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has agreed to this and there is therefore an extension until 31 January 2020.

What does this mean for Portbase?
Portbase is Ready for Brexit. All system changes have been made (ready in March 29, 2019) and optimizations for logistics handling are ready. Portbase will focus in the coming period on supporting affiliated companies in knowledge transfer of the use of the system.

What now?
It is not yet clear what the United Kingdom wants to do. Multiple end scenarios are still possible as a result of the UK internal discussions. In the Netherlands, we await the outcome of the internal process in the United Kingdom. It remains important that all parties involved prepare themselves. After all, deal or no deal Brexit creates a border and therefore customs formalities.
The next date for a possible no-deal is January 31, 2020. The period up to January 31, 2020 still offers prospects for the UK’s orderly departure from the EU, with the withdrawal agreement.
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