The Netherlands’ logistics and customs software suppliers have had a busy time. The regulations had to be adapted so that their customers could continue to trade with the UK after Brexit. With an explosion of data as a result.
“Yes,” confirms René Wijnants, Sales Director at AEB, “It was also a busy time for our clients who again received many questions from their clients about, for example, new customs forms. Our system should be ready to trade with the UK by 31 / 12/20, 00:00 By the way, we had already been preparing for Brexit for quite some time, so not everything was ready when the Brexit deal was finalized on December 24th.
AEB is a German company with experience, over forty years old and around six hundred employees, that is internationally active in logistics and customs programs. In the run-up to Brexit, the company adapted its programs. Installing new functionality wasn’t really an option. Often this involved fundamental changes, such as updating symbol lists and tables, introducing new prices, introducing product classifications and associated English laws and regulations. Very practical: Previously the logistics provider had to deal with a single customs office for items issued, specifically in the UK, in the new situation the external boundaries of customs procedures would be, for example, Rotterdam, Den Helder or Calais.
“Companies sometimes forget that.”
About the new situation, Wijnants says, companies have to think about a lot more things. Previously when a company was sold to England, only a transport document was needed, now the cargo has to be classified by way of a loading document with all kinds of goods codes and delivery terms. And even if you are only exporting products to the UK, you still need to create an export process (from the mainland) and an import process (from the UK) simultaneously in your system.
Furthermore, when previously you needed an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number as an exporter, importer or transit company, you now need two numbers: for Dutch Customs (this EORI number) and British Customs. (Another UK number like EORI is only for the European Union). That’s what companies sometimes forget, is the Wijnants experience.
These were also busy times for Michelle De Nive, Global Product Manager at BluJay Solutions. What made it complicated was that the Brexit deal was sealed too late. This made it difficult to estimate what was about to happen. Although not, the holidays were canceled on Christmas and New Year. BluJay provides programs for logistics service providers, shippers, and customs. Think of a customs declaration system and a transportation management system for the operational and administrative processing of shipments across Europe. The latter system collects a lot of information about transportation (cargo, car, road times, driver, etc.) in order to be able to prepare declarations after the goods have been issued.
Like AEB, BluJay has adapted the program for Brexit for a while. “In addition, we focused initially on what I call the ‘happy flow’: already planned and predictable transportation that you can support from the ground up. Also because it is not clear how English customs will handle the unexpected,” de Neff says. , Such as a driver who changes suddenly or uses another truck Is it possible to change an advertisement or should it be canceled and a new declaration created?
Although Brexit status is similar to the processes surrounding trade with other non-EU countries, this supporting function cannot be copied and pasted individually into the program. Wijnants (AEB) estimates that 80 percent is the same. Only, there are also specific English laws and regulations and on top of that customs rules that differ at certain points. Moreover, things changed in the Portbase port system for transporting goods to England. We had to adjust our software accordingly.
“There are companies that have been sleeping.”
Typically, fifty million tons per year are transported from NL to the United Kingdom. But in January, the first full month after Brexit, trade wasn’t that bad. Wijnants’ first impression is that after a quiet start in the harbors and canal tunnels, it’s getting busier. What’s surprising is that there are still companies sleeping in recent years. They suddenly discover that they have to fill out customs forms to take them to England. See, this modified program, it works. I think most problems occur when forms are incorrectly filled out and not properly informed of the new rules.
BluJay’s cousin expects it to start it all. He feels that English clients are accumulating in the run-up to Brexit. The goods that would normally be transported during this period already exist. “I haven’t noticed any blind panic among our customers either; Everyone was ready. Our intensive care team, who was on the air from January 1 at 3 am, was not overwhelmed by phone calls. Although, I do not know if clients deliberately curtailed their trade to avoid this. Or I started to sort things out manually.
BluJay Product Manager expects another data explosion. He talks about a six-fold increase in tax returns. Logistics providers are required to provide data for many systems in the Netherlands and the UK, such as port, ferry and customs systems, with additional information (“health statement”) when it comes to perishable goods, such as vegetables and fruits.
Wijnants (AEB) thinks the volume of statements can increase tenfold. For a large client of us, for example, it can come to a few million returns per year. For comparison: For other international traffic, it relates to 50,000 to 100,000 permits per year. AEB anticipated this by purchasing additional bandwidth and server capacity and providing 24/7 customer support and advice in January.
De Neef doesn’t deny that the Brexit deal is beneficial to software companies like BluJay. These types of trade agreements are good for demanding logistical programs. The company also has internal teams that monitor these types of treaties and determine how, for example, the specific agreements and necessary certifications should be included in the program.
But how this is arranged on the “other side” of the North Sea is not clear to Denev. His experience is that it is difficult to establish direct contact with customs authorities. ‘With Portbase we have a direct point of contact; If we send an email to English Customs with question or problem, we will finish in an info box. Often the answer is delayed.
In the Netherlands, Portbase, a joint venture between the Rotterdam Port Authority and the Port of Amsterdam, connects all parties in the Dutch port logistics chains via what is called the port community system. Logistics software vendor customers can understand the system connections to use Portbase services via their software. The IT and logistics services provider has adapted this to make transportation to the UK possible. Because logistics service providers have to be notified in advance of their customs documents via Portbase system. All ferry terminals and the sea shore make this mandatory, otherwise the shipment will not leave the port.
As Leon Van Litzenberg, Sales Director of Stream Software, a Benelux logistics and customs software supplier, explained in a LinkedIn video from Portbase: “ We created a team at an early stage to define what to do with the app. Like Portbase message for import and export notifications. Had we not done so, all import and expert shipments of our clients would have stopped at the port after Brexit.
Ready for Brexit
Blujay Solutions received a “Brexit Ready” rating from Portbase in early December as a software supplier for so-called Notice Import Documentation (MID) and Notice Export Documentation (MED). Evidence that the company is providing turnkey Brexit solutions that customers need to quickly move goods to the UK via Dutch ports by 2021.
AEB and Stream Software now also have this designation for Dutch Series Solving, as have many other software vendors. Click Here For an overview.