Frequently asked questions Get Ready for Brexit

Our frequently asked questions relate to the Dutch port solution for Brexit and the consequences Brexit will have on your transport. Since the impact on other (sub)areas is just as significant, please make sure to also consult the frequently asked questions of our initiating parties at the bottom of this page.

Representatives of Portbase, TLN, evofenedex and the ferry operators are in talks with the United Kingdom regarding the solution on their part.

Nobody will be fully ready for the impact of Brexit on the 29th of March. Not knowing whether a deal will ultimately be reached makes it difficult to fully prepare a final solution. By means of this collaboration, the parties involved want to at least make sure that the ferry chain can continue to function and that no congestion occurs at the border should the worst possible scenario play out.

Together with the business community and Customs, Portbase has automated the entire inbound and outbound container transport chain. This process has been working to the full satisfaction of all parties involved for many years already.

Our starting point is a joint approach to communication, in which an (inter)national campaign is used to inform the affected companies and organisations. This also constitutes one of the biggest challenges, because the companies and organisations in question are spread across a large part of Europe. This campaign website plays a central role. Each target group can determine which steps it needs to take in preparation for the 29th of March.

Brexit leads to a chain-dependent process. We are going to tie the chain together. All notifications are dispatched ahead of the cargo so that the relevant authorities have the correct information prior to the arrival of the ship/container. This considerably speeds up handling and improves the flow to and from the ports.

All links in the chain have a responsibility. The ferries constitute the bottleneck in the chain because this is where everything comes together. But even if the ferry operators have properly arranged their processes, it is still important for other chain parties to do so as well. Importers, exporters and transporters: everyone must do their part and take responsibility for their role in the chain. For example, if a transporter does not receive the information from his customer, he cannot continue and will be put on hold at the border. Sector organisations play an important role as well, ensuring that their members are properly incorporated in the process. As such, each party has its role to play and that is what makes the collaboration so powerful.

For many years, the deepsea container segment has already been using an automated process via Portbase. Some examples are notifications to the Harbour Master, Customs, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, terminals and transport companies. All these notifications are dispatched ahead of the cargo, ensuring that the relevant authorities have the correct information prior to the arrival of the ship/container. This saves considerable amounts of time and speeds up the flow to and from the ports. The automated process also ensures that data can be reused. For example, data only needs to be entered once on the Portbase platform; the automated process next ensures that this data reaches the right parties.

As part of the collaboration, a project group has been established in which representatives from the ferry operators, Customs, FENEX, evofenedex, TLN and Portbase assess the steps required to ensure that transport by ferry continues to flow smoothly after the 29th of March 2019 as well. Please note: the project group focuses exclusively on customs formalities at the border!

The project group is currently assessing whether the existing automated process for deepsea container transport can also be used for ferry transport. The processes differ on certain specific aspects. Examples of things that we are considering include the consequences on the chain, the bottlenecks that are present and who will address which bottleneck. We make agreements about adjustments in the chain (e.g. who submits which notification at what time) and work together to solve any lack of clarity in the process. The collaboration must result in an automated (IT) process and a set of agreements aimed at ferry transport.

Then a transition period of 2 years will commence. This means that the UK will formally leave the EU on the 29th of March 2019, but that it will still be a member in practice. They will continue to make contributions to the EU and must comply with all existing and new European legislation, without being able to exercise any degree of influence. According to the Brexiteers, this will turn the UK into a vassal state of the EU. A transition period will give us more time for our process, but the adjustments to the process for the ferry chain must be implemented as soon as the UK becomes a third country (= customs obligations). Rapid clarity benefits all parties alike.

The UK may enter into a new trade agreement with the EU in the form of a customs union. Such an agreement can among other things comprise a joint external tariff for goods from third countries. The EU has a similar agreement in place with Turkey, for example. This is a different customs union than that of the EU, which the UK cannot remain a member of (because this is precisely what they want to exit). A customs union may contain agreements about mutual import duties (nil, for example) and product standards. A customs union however does mean that customs formalities must be performed. The consequence of entering into a customs union with the EU is that the UK is limited in its ability to independently enter into other trade agreements.

The aim is to have a minimum basic service, a minimum viable product, on the 29th of March. This means that the compulsory customs notifications can be submitted, preventing congestion at the border due to the lack of a well-tuned process.

The first exploratory talks took place in September 2018.

In the coming months, we will be working on further fleshing out the starting points: all information precedes the cargo, one central window (Portbase), 100% digital and automated process and reuse of data for various notifications. All this combined must ensure an optimum flow in the Dutch ports.

Think of notifications aimed at Customs, such as import manifests, cargo notifications, import and export documents, the arrival time of the ship, but also notifications for hinterland carriers about the status of the cargo/shipment.

For the first time, tens of thousands of companies that currently do business with the United Kingdom but as of yet do not import or export beyond the EU have to draw up customs declarations or have these drawn up by a customs agent. Customs formalities create mutual dependency in the logistics process, putting pressure on speed and efficiency. Ferry operators, but also companies involved in shipping and logistics, will be faced with new obligations and will be operating in a logistics chain that has not been not designed for this. Due to these two aspects, Brexit will have a major impact on the port and the logistical process regarding ferry transport.

Yes, Portbase is working on a solution for Stena Line (Hook of Holland), CldN (Rotterdam and Flushing), DFDS (Vlaardingen and IJmuiden) and P&O Ferries (Europoort).

If all parties in the chain assume their responsibility, handling from and to the ports will become more efficient. This increases reliability. We also see this in deepsea container transport, where a similar solution has already yielded an excellent logistics process for many years.

Customs performs risk-based inspections. As part of this, it also verifies whether the correct formalities have been completed (e.g. the presence of an export declaration, otherwise the shipment is prohibited from leaving).
The solution will not lead to a reduction in the number of inspections. The starting point of Dutch Customs is smart supervision with minimum disruption to the logistics chain, under the assumption that all formalities have been completed. The automated process makes this possible.

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