International Customs Day

International Customs Day

The Brexit has been a reality for several weeks now. The transition went smoothly and quickly for Special Fruit, says Sven Van Dyck, Customs declarations at Special Fruit. We work with Dailyfresh as a partner who takes care of everything, so they do all the good work. How is it done at other companies? We questioned Ward Verberck, Brexit Consultant at VLAM is about his findings and expectations in Brexit times.

What feedback does VLAM receive regarding export documentation? Are the companies doing this in-house, or are they working through a customs agent?

This is different for each organization. Most companies that export regularly have an expert within the company who is authorized to handle those customs forms. Also, companies such as the dairy industry that are used to exporting to third countries already have or had their own department, so they experience fewer difficulties.

For companies that occasionally export to UK, there was no need for their own department until 2021. They now mainly make the choice to work through a customs agent. This makes it easier for them to stay up to date with all the new guidelines and rules. The disadvantage is that a customs agent does not work for free, of course. Every action costs money and that has an impact on the profit margins.

So you have to consider what is the most interesting option for you as a company.


Are the queues that were expected on arrival in the UK really there, or is it all not so bad?

For now, the queues are limited. But the first weeks of the year are traditionally a bit calmer.  Department stores have brought in a lot of stock even before the Brexit. So for now, no bottlenecks.

Good preparation is essential. As an exporter or customs agent, you really have to be aware of all the formalities. In the meantime, this is certainly the case, which of course benefits the turnover.


From 1 April, there are additional phytosanitary obligations when exporting certain goods to the UK. Is this already in progress, and will it be able to proceed smoothly?

Companies must take into account the current agreements with the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) and customs in their preparations. They have to inform themselves with these services when extra flexibility is needed. This could have a negative effect on the smooth running of operations to which our companies are accustomed. It will be examined to what extent extra people and resources can be used to offer a solution and to maintain the service level.

Companies aim to maintain their level of service, but the extra regulations and checks on the British side do not make this easy.

Phytosanitary administration will take some effort, but if we prepare for it properly and work with the tools already in existence, we will be fine. A lot of time and money will have to be invested in the initial phase, but we will soon come to the new normal in our deliveries to the UK.