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The toll from the new Brexit trading arrangements grew last night when DHL Express told customers it was “immediately” suspending some UK-EU services.
In an email seen by The Loadstar, the company said that with “immediate effect” it would “temporarily suspend” all B2C shipments requiring sanitary and phytosanitary control formalities.
The company explained it was seeing EU customs authorities hold a “high number of shipments” requiring such checks.
Shipments affected include animals and products of animal origin, plants and plant-based products and items that can be absorbed, like cosmetics and perfumes. DHL Express said it would advise customers “as soon as we can” when the services would resume.
A spokesperson for DHL Express told The Loadstar it was not a blanket suspension on all services.
“This does not affect goods being shipped to businesses, or veterinary and phytosanitary shipments that do not require control formalities, such as authorisations or licences.
“We hope that the challenges associated with these types of shipments are resolved soon and we can resume carrying them on behalf of our customers as quickly as possible.”
Catching the industry offguard, many have been left “upset and angry” by the news, as DHL and FedEx are seen as lifelines for the services suspended by the likes of DPD and DB Schenker.
One source told The Loadstar this morning: “We knew if we wanted to service something amid the Brexit strains, we would be able to hand it to DHL and it would be taken care of. So, to find otherwise… this decision is really shocking, and I think shows the extent of the levels of bureaucracy tied into the new trading arrangements.”
FedEx, however, is projecting an air of calm, a spokesperson telling The Loadstar it had yet to experience any major headaches, noting it had spent four years prepping for Brexit.
“So far, our preparations are proving effective. Currently only 0.5% of parcels due to leave the UK for the EU via FedEx’s road network had missing customs paperwork,” he said. “This tells us our network is stable and our customers are navigating the change successfully.
“We are open for international business on Brexit lanes and will continue to do everything we can to support customers through this transition.”
Palletforce also said this morning it had been able to maintain a “functioning Europe service, despite ongoing Brexit challenges”.
The palletised distribution network said it had spent the past 12 months “heavily investing” in its European services to mitigate the impact of Brexit-related disruption, adding that, “unlike some other networks”, it had a “true cross-border model”.
Chief executive Michael Conroy said: “There’ve been a number of problems since the start of 2021, which have seen some pallet networks and logistics operators suspend services. [But] Palletforce has been able to maintain a fully-functioning service… these are tough times, government did not provide the rules early enough, some customs centres do not seem fully prepared and there’s confusion around paperwork and what is needed.”
DHL’s decision may be the latest in a worrying trend, with three major companies suspending some services in the past week, following DB Schenker and Palletways.
One source said they expected the big companies to have a fix in place “imminently”, but suggested it showed something beyond incompetence on the part of business, pointing the finger at the “late-in-day” delivery of a Brexit deal.