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Published:January 19, 2021

Beating Brexit border bottlenecks

Adapting to the new normal

Beating Brexit border bottlenecks

Just a few weeks into 2021 and observers are starting to gain some clarity on the practical consequences of Brexit.

It’s not a state of total chaos that some might have worried about, but there is certainly teething trouble. Moreover, it has become clear that any business moving goods between the UK and Europe is going to have to take effective measures to adapt.


Red tape blues

The sight of queues of trucks stuck at the border was a striking symbol of initial Brexit turmoil. However, the real difficulties will be less visible to the public. These are the bureaucratic and logistical challenges raised by the UK leaving the European Union.

Some of the new rules seem positively silly, like the widely-reported story of the UK driver whose ham sandwich was confiscated at the Dutch border. It sounds like a trivial example, but all these small prohibitions can add up to serious regulatory challenges. 

More seriously, a shipment of shellfish originating from Wales was delayed at multiple border points, potentially leading to ruinous losses for the business. As reported by the BBC, the business owner was confident she had adequately prepared for Brexit, but says the importer made an error on the relevant paperwork.

The clear lesson is that any business moving goods between the UK and EU needs a complete solution that accounts for each stage of the shipping process. An error at any point of the process could result in extremely costly delays or penalties. 


Structural adjustment

Speaking to reporters, Michel Barnier was reasonably upbeat about resolving bottlenecks. Barnier, who was the EU chief Brexit negotiator, ascribed present disorder to  ‘glitches’ that would be resolved. However, he cautioned that structural changes resulting from Brexit are here to stay, and that businesses will need to effectively adapt.

Barnier also warned that the current terms of the UK-EU trade deal can’t be taken for granted.  The Financial Times reports that Barnier has warned that Britain could face the risk of losing tariff-free trade with the EU if high regulatory standards on goods are not maintained.

Any UK business shipping to Europe therefore needs to appreciate that managing the reality of Brexit is an ongoing process. The regulatory environment remains dynamic, and businesses need access to reliable up-to-date expertise.


Controlling costs

Even when the paperwork is effectively managed, logistical challenges remain. 

Bloomberg notes that delays are causing the cost of shipping to increase. This is in part due to reduced supply, owing to the administrative hassle of moving goods across the border.

In addition, some shippers are declining to carry loads comprised of goods from multiple companies, to avoid extra red tape. It’s a decision that particularly hurts small businesses that rely on moving goods to Europe.

In this environment, securing cost-effective and reliable shipping infrastructure is more important than ever. 


A complete solution when every step matters


VAT IT Brexit solutions provides a holistic service that tackles all logistics, customs, VAT compliance processes, and refund mechanisms. Drawing on 20 years of experience in every step of the regulatory and logistical challenges of shipping goods between the UK and Europe, this ensures that your business avoids disruptions to your supply chain and secures the most competitive shipping rates.

As real life conditions on the ground change day-by-day, we can provide clarity and support.  



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