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.

Highlighted questions

Prior to your departure, use Portbase to verify the status of your customs documents at the terminal via the service Import Status or the Track & Trace Export screen of the service Notification Export Documentation. Register for these services at www.portbase.com/en/services/import-status and www.portbase.com/en/services/notification-export-documentation/.

Post-Brexit, many things will also change regarding the transport of animals, animal products, plants and plant-based products. Visit the website of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to learn what to expect when importing or exporting animals and animal products.

Post-Brexit, many things will also change regarding the transport of animals, animal products, plants and plant-based products. Visit the website of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to learn what to expect when importing or exporting plants and plant-based products.

You submit a customs declaration at Customs to notify them of the goods that you are transporting. Before you can submit a customs declaration, you need an EORI number. This is an identification number that your company has to request from Customs once so that you are known there. After you have submitted a customs declaration, you will receive a unique number from them (e.g. Movement Reference Number (MRN)) for the submitted shipment.

You need this document number issued by Customs to pre-notify the customs documents at the terminal via Portbase. In Portbase, you link the customs data (MRN) to the required logistics data (which truck/container/trailer, terminal, times etc.). Through your pre-notification via Portbase, you ensure that all the required customs formalities are automatically arranged at the terminal. This way, your transport can be performed without delay.

Brexit in general

Because the United Kingdom (UK) has left the European Union (EU), a border will be in place (after the current transition period) and customs formalities will have to be performed. This automatically means that parties in the logistics chain will become dependent on each other. One party will need to use the data of another party to perform its next steps. The exporter or importer will have to ensure that Customs is provided with a customs declaration. That is the first step. Without a customs declaration, it is not possible to pre-notify customs documents at the terminal and the cargo – and therefore the transporter – will by definition come to a standstill at the border. Think of it as checking in online at the airport. In order to do this, a ticket will first have to be booked. You can next use that ticked number to check in in advance; once you arrive at the airport, the check-in has already been arranged digitally, allowing for a smooth passage.

If the transition period is extended after all, the situation will not change. Customs formalities will still be introduced for imports and exports from and to the UK in the future. Companies should consider the connection costs to Portbase a no-regret measure, because customs formalities will become applicable no matter what, now or in the future.

Dutch port solution

No.

Via Get Ready for Brexit, the Dutch ports are fully prepared for the customs formalities as a result of Brexit. However, it is imperative that all parties in the logistics chain participate and, in mutual consultation, always perform the required actions towards Customs and Portbase in a timely manner.

In order to make use of the chainwide solution for the Dutch ports, it is important that companies complete 5 steps together with their chain partners. The ferry terminals have decided that without pre-notified customs documents via Portbase, the driver will not be granted access, meaning the cargo cannot be transported. This approach is embraced by most shortsea terminals as well. Only in this way will the ’digital border’ function and ensure a speedier procedure compared to labour-intensive manual inspections.

The ‘digital border’ of Portbase means that if all parties participate and adhere to the agreements, there is no need for Customs to manually check compliance with the customs formalities. As a result, transport through the Dutch ports becomes must faster. It is easier for parties to meet the legal customs obligations and they know in advance whether the ‘barrier’ at the border will be open.
The concept of a ‘digital border’ is not new. At the deepsea container terminals, customs formalities have already been processed in an automated manner via Portbase for many years and this ‘digital border’ works to the full satisfaction of all parties involved. All information precedes the cargo; there are no delays and congestion at the terminals. The approach used for deepsea container transport served as the blueprint for the project for ferry and shortsea transport in which Portbase plays a central role.

All the parties in the chain are dependent on each other. To prevent chaos at the border, a broad partnership has been established under the name ‘Get Ready for Brexit’. Only if all the parties in the chain work together and take their own responsibility can they prevent delays together.

This chain-wide solution has been jointly developed at the initiative of Portbase and the interest groups Transport en Logistiek Nederland (transporters), FENEX (forwarders), evofenedex (importers and exporters) and Deltalinqs (port business community). All ferry operators, many shortsea terminals, the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KNVR), NIWO, Alliance Customs Software, Dutch Customs and the port authorities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam also support the initiative.

The project members have developed a method that comprises the fully digital and automated handling of customs formalities, with optimum reuse of data. All information precedes the cargo in the process, so that the next party in the chain has timely access to the required data. For both shortsea and ferry traffic, one digital gateway (via Portbase) is created for all terminals, resulting in a central working method for everyone. This allows for smart supervision on the part of Customs, with minimal disruption to the logistics process (the digital border).

Portbase was established in 2009 by the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Port of Amsterdam and has the broad support of the port business community. The ambition is to make the logistics chains of the Dutch ports as attractive as possible through a one-stop shop. Portbase connects all parties in the logistics chains of the Dutch ports to this end. Via the Port Community System, Portbase facilitates data sharing between companies and information exchange with government bodies in order to be able to operate faster, more efficiently and at lower costs. Together with our growing community, Portbase is continuously making the sharing of data more valuable. With the aim of making the Dutch port community, and thus the ports, the smartest in Europe. Portbase is neutral, of and for the port community and has no profit motive.

Together with ferry operators, shortsea terminals, interest groups, the port authorities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam and Customs, one single solution for the handling of customs formalities as a result of Brexit has been explored. The conclusion was that this could only be achieved by means of a digital solution. With its existing method for deepsea container transport, Portbase already manages this digital solution. The handling of customs formalities would be highly time-consuming without a digital solution, with hours of queues at terminals and on the access roads. This would cost the business community much more than the current investment to join this approach.

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 consequently 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 process that has been automated in the ports via Get Ready for Brexit makes this possible.

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.

The ports and government bodies have already been communicating for some time now that companies need to prepare. Timely preparation is an essential individual responsibility for everyone. Depending on the specific situation, Portbase also needs some time to connect parties. Companies that still decide to wait run the risk of not being able to import and export via the Dutch ports when the transition period comes to an end.

NVWA*

*Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority

Post-Brexit, many things will also change regarding the transport of animals, animal products, plants and plant-based products. Visit the website of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to learn what to expect when importing or exporting animals and animal products.

Post-Brexit, many things will also change regarding the transport of animals, animal products, plants and plant-based products. Visit the website of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to learn what to expect when importing or exporting plants and plant-based products.

Customs

After Brexit, all GB EORI numbers will expire for use in the EU. A customer in Britain will require an EORI number. If the company’s headquarters will be located outside the EU, they can use a special form to request this. The department within Customs that processes these applications will wait until they are able to issue the EORI number (in principle when the GB EORI numbers expire, because only one valid EORI number is allowed in the EU).
PLEASE NOTE! The EORI application is processed faster if the company already has a Dutch tax registration number. The customer can request this in advance via this form.

You can only compile an EORI number yourself when you submit declarations in the Netherlands. Should you start submitting declarations abroad, you must request an EORI number. Since you are going to submit declarations outside the Netherlands because of Brexit, you must request an EORI number.

In the case of a hard Brexit, EU companies will have to apply for an EORI number in Great Britain in order to be able to enter it. Great Britain has chosen to continue with the ‘EORI number’ principle. This is a GB EORI Number. These UK EORI numbers can only be used in UK software and not in EU software because these numbers are no longer valid within the EU. This issue is therefore completely separate from the EORI number that the customer must have in the EU in order to trade in the EU.

First of all, check here whether an EORI number has already been allocated. The EORI number is derived from the VAT number. This means the VAT number can be entered on this site, without B01.

There are 2 application forms on this page of the Dutch tax authorities; one for companies headquartered in the Netherlands looking to apply for an EORI number and one for companies which have their headquarters outside the European Union.

TAKE NOTE! It is important that the form is filled in digitally. In addition, an EORI number cannot be issued to a tax entity, but it can be issued to the underlying entities. Furthermore, the company must be of valid legal status as well.

The EORI number is issued within 3 working days. The confirmation letter will be sent within a week. If the customer already wants to check the EORI number, this can be done via this site.

PLEASE NOTE! This lead time only applies to companies that already have a tax identification number in the Netherlands. If the customer does not yet have a tax identification number in the Netherlands, the lead time is 2 weeks on average.

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 consequently 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 process that has been automated in the ports via Get Ready for Brexit makes this possible.

Access terminal

Prior to your departure, use Portbase to verify the status of your customs documents at the terminal via the service Import Status or the Track & Trace Export screen of the service Notification Export Documentation. Register for these services at www.portbase.com/en/services/import-status and www.portbase.com/en/services/notification-export-documentation/.

1) Booking is not known at the ferry terminal:

  • Check or have checked whether the booking number is correct.
    • Booking number not correct? Use Portbase to have the pre-notification of the customs documents at the terminal corrected.
    • Booking number correct? Contact Portbase via servicedesk@portbase.com.

2) No customs declaration has been submitted to Customs:

  • Have a customs declaration filed with Customs.
  • Next, have the customs documents electronically pre-notified at the terminal via Portbase.

3) The customs documents have not been (correctly) pre-notified at the terminal via Portbase:

  • Have the customs documents pre-notified electronically at the terminal via Portbase.

4) You do not have a valid proof of identity:

  • Contact the consulate or embassy of your own country.

Pre-notification customs document

You are not authorised to use the document type in question at the relevant terminal. Check your terminal contract for the use of the service Notification Import Documentation and adjust this in consultation with the Sales Department of Portbase.

This depends on the applicable procedures at the ferry companies. As soon as your booking number changes, a correction will be required to the pre-notification of your customs documents via Portbase.

  • Check the status of your notification: If the status is ‘rejected’ (by PCS or terminal) or ‘failed’, then the notification has not been accepted. Resolve the error message and resend the notification.
  • Check whether the correct document number, document type and container/shipment number have been entered. If this is not the case, then enter the correct information and resubmit the notification.
  • Check whether you have entered the correct terminal. It sometimes happens that cargo is shifted to a different terminal last-minute. This is not automatically changed in your Notification Import Documentation.
  • Check in Cargo Information or Import Status whether your shipment or container has been unloaded. At some terminals, the import document only becomes available in the terminal system after the cargo has been included in the RTO (= Unloaded on the quay).
    If all information is correct, there may have been a (short-term) disruption at the terminal or PCS. Resubmit your notification.
  • Tip: For the ferry and shortsea terminals, use the service Import Status to locate the presence and status of the import document before contacting the terminal or Portbase.

You submit a customs declaration at Customs to notify them of the goods that you are transporting. Before you can submit a customs declaration, you need an EORI number. This is an identification number that your company has to request from Customs once so that you are known there. After you have submitted a customs declaration, you will receive a unique number from them (e.g. Movement Reference Number (MRN)) for the submitted shipment.

You need this document number issued by Customs to pre-notify the customs documents at the terminal via Portbase. In Portbase, you link the customs data (MRN) to the required logistics data (which truck/container/trailer, terminal, times etc.). Through your pre-notification via Portbase, you ensure that all the required customs formalities are automatically arranged at the terminal. This way, your transport can be performed without delay.

Before cargo can be imported or exported, an import or export declaration must be submitted to Customs. After this declaration has been submitted, the documents must be pre-notified at the ferry terminal or shortsea terminal via Portbase. If these formalities are not in order, the driver is not able to continue with the transport of his cargo.

There are two possibilities:
1. The driver contacts his own planner or client. He or she will have to ensure that all the required actions are performed.
2. Contact is sought with a company that is already affiliated with Portbase such as a forwarder or customs agent that can submit the notifications for them after all.

All types of customs documents can be pre-notified via Portbase (so export, TIR, ATA Carnets, Transit, etc.).

Portbase

Import Status is a free service that has been specifically developed for transporters. To them, this service is highly important as it allows them to see whether the customs documents have been correctly pre-notified at the terminal. If that is not the case and they still dispatch a driver to the terminal, said driver will find the barrier closed there.

No, when a company exports, it has to deal with the services Notification Export Documentation and Track & Trace Export. These services are free of charge because the terminals and shipping lines which are used to perform the export process bear these costs. There is a one-off connection fee of € 249.50 (excl. VAT) though.

Subscription costs and transaction fees apply to the use of the service Notification Import Documentation. The subscription costs for use via the web (so a log-in via the internet from a computer, laptop or tablet) amount to € 6.24 per month and a system link-up (so between the system of the customer and Portbase) costs € 20.84 per month. In both cases, a transaction fee of € 0.18 per transaction (per message) is charged (transaction costs). In addition, there is a one-off connection fee of € 249.50 (excl. VAT).

The ‘digital border’ of Portbase means that if all parties participate and adhere to the agreements, there is no need for Customs to manually check compliance with the customs formalities. As a result, transport through the Dutch ports becomes must faster. It is easier for parties to meet the legal customs obligations and they know in advance whether the ‘barrier’ at the border will be open.
The concept of a ‘digital border’ is not new. At the deepsea container terminals, customs formalities have already been processed in an automated manner via Portbase for many years and this ‘digital border’ works to the full satisfaction of all parties involved. All information precedes the cargo; there are no delays and congestion at the terminals. The approach used for deepsea container transport served as the blueprint for the project for ferry and shortsea transport in which Portbase plays a central role.

This depends on the service, but normally 24 hours. Portbase performs a due diligence check. During peaks in registrations, this may take longer.

Please contact the Sales Department of Portbase at sales@portbase.com to check the status of your connection. Until you have received your login details, you can ask another party in your chain to pre-notify the customs documents for you via Portbase.

Portbase was established in 2009 by the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Port of Amsterdam and has the broad support of the port business community. The ambition is to make the logistics chains of the Dutch ports as attractive as possible through a one-stop shop. Portbase connects all parties in the logistics chains of the Dutch ports to this end. Via the Port Community System, Portbase facilitates data sharing between companies and information exchange with government bodies in order to be able to operate faster, more efficiently and at lower costs. Together with our growing community, Portbase is continuously making the sharing of data more valuable. With the aim of making the Dutch port community, and thus the ports, the smartest in Europe. Portbase is neutral, of and for the port community and has no profit motive.

The Port Community System (PCS) of Portbase is the digital connection to the smart ports of the Netherlands. The PCS has almost national coverage and is available for all port sectors: containers, general cargo, dry bulk and liquid bulk. Through the more than 40 services in the PCS, all links in the logistics chain can easily and efficiently exchange information.

Go to www.pcs.portbase.com. Log in with the details that you have been provided.

The costs for the import process in terms of security, liability and the amount of connections that need to be made (ICT costs) with various parties are much higher than for the export process. Notification Import Documentation results in a faster and more efficient process for companies involved in imports and logistics. These costs are not fully covered by the terminals and shipping lines (due to the added value for importing companies). Because of its cost-based and non-profit basis, Portbase has no other option but to pass on these costs to the user.

Connection costs are charged because a number of steps must be completed in order to make use of the ‘digital border’ of Portbase.
Portbase is a cost-effective organisation. The connection costs are € 249.50 per service.

Together with ferry operators, shortsea terminals, interest groups, the port authorities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam and Customs, one single solution for the handling of customs formalities as a result of Brexit has been explored. The conclusion was that this could only be achieved by means of a digital solution. With its existing method for deepsea container transport, Portbase already manages this digital solution. The handling of customs formalities would be highly time-consuming without a digital solution, with hours of queues at terminals and on the access roads. This would cost the business community much more than the current investment to join this approach.

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