The software handles explosion announcements after the Brexit deal

Suppliers of logistics and customs software in the Netherlands have been busy. After Brexit the systems had to be modified so that their customers could continue to trade with the United Kingdom. With the resulting data explosion.

‘Yes,’ confirms Aeneb’s sales manager Rene Vignants, ‘It has been a busy time for our customers and our customers who have received many questions back from their customers, for example, the new Customs Forms. Our organization must be ready to trade with the UK by 12/31/20, 00:00. Coincidentally, we had already been preparing for Brexit for some time. Therefore, when the Brexit agreement was finalized on December 24, it was not in all hands. ‘

AEB is an experienced German company, with over forty and over six hundred employees, active internationally with logistics and customs software. While Brexit was running, the company embraced its software. Installing a new functionality is not really an option. This often involves updating code lists and tables, entering new tariffs and introducing taxonomies for products, and making significant changes to related English laws and regulations. And more practical: Previously a logistics service provider had to deal with a customs office for outgoing goods, i.e. in the UK there are external boundaries for customs systems in the new situation, for example, Rotterdam, Den Helder or Kalais.


“Companies sometimes forget about it”

Companies still need to think about many things, says Vignants about the new situation. Previously when a company was sold to the UK, only one transport document was required, now a load must be characterized by a loading document containing codes and delivery conditions for all types of goods. Even if you only export products to the UK, you need to create an export process (from mainland) and an import process (in the UK) on your computer at the same time.

Also, where you previously needed an EORI identification number (economic operator registration and identification) as an exporter, importer or transportation company, you now need two numbers: for Dutch customs (that EORI number) and for British customs. (Another UK number EORI is for the EU only). Companies sometimes forget this, which is Vignant’s experience.

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Happy flow

It was also busy for Michael de Knife, global product manager at BlueJay Solutions. ‘What complicates this is that the Brexit deal ended too late. It is difficult to estimate what is going to happen. Holidays were canceled during Christmas and New Year celebrations. ‘BlueJe provides software for logistics service providers, shipping exporters and customs. Think about the customs notification system and the traffic management system for the operational and administrative handling of exports through Europe. The latter system collects a lot of information about traffic (freight, car, route driving time, driving, etc.) so that notices can be drawn up after the goods have been delivered.

Like AEB, BlueJay has been embracing Brexit software for some time. ‘In addition, De Knife says,’ I initially focused on what I call ‘happy flow’: already planned, predictable traffic you can support from A to Z. It is not yet clear how English customs deal with unexpected things such as the sudden change of driving or the use of another truck. Is it possible to change a notification or cancel it and create a new notification?

Although the Brexit situation is similar to the processes surrounding trade with other non-EU countries, that support function cannot be copied and pasted into software one by one. Vignants (AEP) estimates that 80 percent is the same. ‘Only, there are specific English laws and regulations, and on top of that there are customs rules that differ at some point. Also, things have changed in the port base port system for freight transport to the UK. We had to adjust our software accordingly. ‘

I buy

“There are sleeping companies”

In general, fifty million tons are transported annually from the NL to the United Kingdom. But in January, the first full month since Brexit, trade was still not bad. After a quiet start in the ports and channel tunnel, Vignants’ first impression is that it is getting busier. The thing that strikes him is that there are still companies that have been asleep in recent years. ‘They will suddenly find that they have to fill out customs forms to go to the UK. Look, with that modified software, it works. I think most of the problems occur when the forms are filled in incorrectly and the new rules are not properly reported. ‘

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BlueJay’s cousin expects all of this. He feels that English customers are hoarding while running up to Brexit. Items that are commonly carried during this period are already available. ‘I do not notice any blind panic among our customers; Everyone was ready. Our hypercare team, which aired from January 1st at 3am, was also not overwhelmed by phone calls. Although I do not know if the customers deliberately calibrated to avoid their trade. Or you have started to solve things manually. ‘


The BlueJay product manager predicted another data explosion; He talks about a six-fold increase in tax revenue. Logistics service providers are required to provide data to a number of organizations, including port, ferry and customs systems in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with additional information when it comes to perishable goods such as vegetables and fruits (‘a health report’).

Vignants (AEP) also thinks that the number of announcements will increase tenfold. ‘For one of our big customers, it could be a few million announcements a year. For comparison: for other international transport it is about 50,000 to 100,000 notifications per year. ‘AEB expects this by purchasing additional bandwidth and server capability and providing support and advice to customers 24/7 in January.

De Neef does not deny that the Brexit deal will benefit software companies such as BlueJay. These types of trade deals are good for logistics software needs. The company also has teams that monitor these types of contracts and, for example, determine how specific contracts and required certifications should be included in the software.

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But it is not clear to De Nefu how this is arranged on the ‘other side’ of the North Sea. His experience is that it is difficult to make direct contact with customs officials. ‘With Portface has direct contact with us; If we email English customs with a question or problem, we end up in an info box. The answer is often delayed. ‘


In the Netherlands, Portbase, a joint venture between the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Amsterdam, refers to all parties in the logistics chains of Dutch ports as a port community organization. Customers of logistics software suppliers can feel the computer connections to use portfolio services through their software. The IT and logistics service provider has embraced this to make transportation to the UK possible. This is because logistics service providers are required to declare their customs documents in advance through the portfolio system. All ferry and shortseed terminals make this mandatory, otherwise the cargo will not leave the port.

Leon von Litsenberg, sales manager for Stream Software, a supplier of logistics and customs software for Benex, explains in a center video from Port Base: ‘We set up a task force at an early stage to decide what to do with the application. Such as portfolio news for import and export notifications. If we did not do so, all imports and professional shipments from our customers would have stopped at the port after Brexit. ‘

Ferdinand Woolridge

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