UK: Brexit & Cross-Border Trade Challenges: The View From The Road / Runway / Port …

As the legal and regulatory challenges of a "no deal" Brexit start to crystallise, the in-house legal specialist is doubtless busy answering questions about their exposure to risk of non-compliance across multiple areas. For many businesses, particularly in the manufacturing and retail sectors, in-house legal teams are being asked to extend their remit to trade compliance. This includes customs reporting obligations and how that may look in practice for goods arriving from the European Union post 29 March 2019. Customs is often mistakenly treated as a "black hole" or outsourced function to be handled by a nominated freight agent. This in itself creates a risk for the importer or exporter i.e. the owner of the goods.

With this in mind we spoke to Phil Evans who leads the customs compliance function for DSV, an international transport and freight carrier, to understand what the landscape looks like from his perspective and how, in his view, businesses can prepare for Brexit. DSV offers a customs brokerage service as part of their wider freight offering.

What is the role of the customs broker in the supply chain?

The customs broker represents the importer / exporter and declares their consignment to HM Revenue & Customs ("HMRC"). In most cases this is conducted under a direct representation arrangement whereby the broker acts in the name of and on behalf of the importer / exporter. The importer / exporter is responsible for the accuracy of the declaration filed to HMRC. In some cases where the importer /exporter wants to use a Customs Simplification which is held by the broker they can use an indirect representation agreement which means that the broker is jointly and severally liable for the declaration. However the broker is likely to stipulate that the arrangement is conducted under terms and conditions which, ultimately, pushes the risk back to the importer / exporter.

What do you think will be, in the context of cross border trade compliance, the biggest challenge for businesses in event of a no deal Brexit?

An existing international trader will have at least a general understanding dealing with a freight forwarder and the associated customs activity. So for our clients in this position the translation into EU trade is in that respect straightforward. However so many traders currently only trade intra-EU so therefore have no concept of the customs requirements such as tariff classification, valuation and controls on certain types of goods. The knowledge isn't there.

The UK has signed the Common Transit Convention "CTC" which will allow the movement of goods from an EU to UK hub under a transit arrangement i.e. no requirement to present a declaration at the physical border. On the face of it this assists the movement of goods for a groupage trailer service which is typically used for business moving significant volumes of own stock (e.g. an auto- manufacturer).

However the CTC will not facilitate trade in this way for goods moved by independent hauliers. Hauliers pick up freight, often from multiple locations and multiple customers, and move it across the border. Not only will it not be possible to delay filing a customs declaration until the goods reach their end destination they will need to communicate with the broker nominated by the customer that the goods have reached the UK border and a customs declaration needs to be filed. The situation may become even more complex where the nominated broker does not have the requisite "badge" (authorisation) to file a customs declaration for goods arriving at the particular port. As an example of how difficult to find a suitable customs broker may become, there are currently few if any customs brokers present in some of the smaller "Roll on / Roll off" (RoRo) Ports focused on intra-EU trade, remote entry filing can be done but there may need to be on the ground presence for certain categories of goods and liaison with intervening authorities.

Many businesses have talked about a "Plan B" for selecting a port of entry in the event Dover becomes overcrowded but this may not be possible in reality if there is no suitable customs broker available.

What would be the requirement at the port in the event the current deal proposed by the Prime Minister would go through?

Once the UK leaves the customs union there will be a requirement to file a customs declaration for intra-EU trade following a transition period.

May's Brexit deal would give the brokerage industry around 18 months to set up the necessary infrastructure at the ports but my hope is that the reporting requirements for cross border trade would be more akin to the current Intrastat reporting requirements.

In terms of preparing for Brexit, is it also your experience that the businesses that have gone through the process of applying for Authorised Economic Operator ("AEO") are in a better position?

My experience of dealing with AEO accredited importers /exporters is that they have a handle on responsibility to provide the right information about classifying goods and the relevant customs procedures to enter them to. Currently there are not many AEO traders in the UK. AEO applications have high rejection rate and you cannot rely on agents to ensure compliance with AEO rules. 680 companies are on the current accreditation list for the UK.

Finally, what type of technology / IT / systems are businesses adopting, if any, to facilitate cross border trade?

Blockchain is a viable option. DSV is looking Blockchain technology as a way of securing information and preserving data integrity. Similarly we are looking at which process robotics can automate to replace user-process.

In an ideal world you would use data sharing platforms to automate data sharing between customs authorities. For example data used to file an export declaration in the United States would form the basis of the corresponding import declaration in the UK. Inconsistencies in the approaches of customs administrations globally and the compliance landscape could make this difficult. However perhaps the use of the "trusted trader" status as a marker of a compliant trader could make such a scheme more viable in the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
7 Nov 2019, Seminar, Birmingham, UK

Providing content specifically tailored to the needs of GCs and Heads of Legal working in government organisations and their affiliates.

14 Nov 2019, Seminar, London, UK

Providing content specifically tailored to the needs of GCs and Heads of Legal working in government organisations and their affiliates.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions