There were many different impacts. From a supply chain perspective, it's been catastrophic. There is an issue in distinguishing what the effects of Brexit are versus the effects of COVID. COVID is the main reason why there's are huge supply chain issues in the world right now. That’s not a Brexit thing, but a COVID one that is causing so many problems. However, there is also a well-documented shortage of drivers in the UK. Haulage delays can be several weeks and shipping lines are charging astronomical fees. To make matters worse, many EU Citizens left the UK at the outset of Covid and have not returned which has caused a shortage of labour.
There was very little guidance from the UK government in how to deal with the borders once Brexit happened. We had to suspend our service to Europe temporarily. It was widely reported that vehicles were stuck for several days at border points.. We pulled out of that market because we didn't want to be in the position where we could not give our clients the level of service they would expect. Having to tell clients that we didn’t know when their shipment would clear customs, when we would deliver whilst passing on additional examination fees was not a situation we wanted to find ourselves in.
It’s been slow and steady progress to get service levels back to a standard we can rely on. It has got better; people are more aware now about what can and cannot be done and we have managed their expectation levels. Contractors/partners we work with are very clear on the documentation required, and what the timelines are. So, we are back in a position where we can offer that service. Unfortunately, prices are significantly higher but that is due to all the additional work that needs to be done.
The main difference now is the administrative work that needs to be done. An EU Move is now treated the same as a move to Australia except the transit time. We must ensure the customs paperwork is correct and the assignee has the necessary visa requirements in place. We keep country-specific customs documentation prepared. If a client is moving to France, we check the documents, Visas, and any permits before we load a vehicle. This ensures that our clients receive their shipments on time and on budget.
Yes, clients now need to take a more active role in the move. We provide all of the assistance they will need but we must ensure the documentation is correct. Assignees must be made aware of the customs regulations of the destination country and that they comply. We ensure that documentation is correct and if there is a problem then we try to pre-empt that before a vehicle is loaded.
There are ongoing increases in prices not just due to Brexit. There are numerous factors: supply chain problems, energy, and fuel price increases, labour shortages, increased packaging costs, and a shortage of containers to name just a few. This has led to many incremental increases which have increased prices across the board. We have tried to absorb some of the costs but it’s impossible to absorb so many. The concern now is for hyperinflation triggering a recession in the UK later this year and early next year. The shipping lines are making record profits so there seems little motivation for them to change and they are already reporting that the container imbalance will continue long into 2022. It seems obvious now that Brexit was poorly managed by the UK government. However, the UK has very resilient people who seem to manage no matter what the circumstances. We will continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability, keep up with the changing regulations, supply chain issues and hope for better days ahead in the post-Brexit post-Covid era.
Brexit had multiple consequences on our operations. At first, we were slightly uncertain about how customs would start operating and how that would affect our customers. Thus, it was important to make sure we had information that was trustworthy.
This was quite simple for us, as it just meant that we had to deal with our shipments between Spain and the UK in the same way as any shipment coming from any other country outside of the European Union, which is the only area in which we operate. The main change came for our customers, as we had to try to help them understand the new procedures on moves. Many failed to understand, as they had moved when the UK was in the EU and could not comprehend how not having documentation on time, or a lack of it, could imply customs duties and further expenses.
As many companies who ran trucks through Europe were having issues with customs and transit times, we took this as an opportunity and started the WillMove-to-WillMove Service. This is a service in which our client would only deal with WillMove in Spain and WillMove in the UK for their shipment which would be done by sea or air, granting a much shorter transit time and safer journey.
As stated, previously for us it just took a few days or close to a week to complete the restructuring of document procedures and operation within the company, as we had an idea of what to expect when Brexit came in.
The main differences in moves since Brexit came in are the changes in customs and the planning required for moving. Any client moving to the UK from Europe will now need to request the ToR number and without this number, the client would have to pay duties on their shipment. When exporting from the UK into a country like Spain, the client must be aware of all the documents which they will be required to have to avoid taxes and duties on their household goods.
This additional red tape forces the clients to have better planning when moving, as getting everything in order could well take over a month. It is extremely important for all companies operating between the UK and Europe to be aware of all the new procedures and for them to inform their clients as many are lost.
As we no longer offer groupage by road, we have not seen our cost structure suffer and we have not needed to relay any charges to the clients. Now our clients can experience the WillMove-to-WillMove which involves a different cost structure offering our clients a unique experience without paying more than what they should have to.
Laurens de Jong
Of course, the main one was customs clearance of all shipments out of the European Union and into Great Britain, and vice versa. We liaised with customs brokers, we hired extra office staff and we trained staff for customs activities. We bought customs software and we are in the process of obtaining AEO certification, customs permits, and our own customs bonded warehouse. We are operating as customs intermediaries not only for our own customers but also for trade partners since we speak their language, and we know what is needed. Removals are a niche market, and many customs brokers are not willing to deal with moving companies if they do not know what they are up to.
Very quickly. We have been preparing for Brexit for years, so after a few weeks in January, we were completely up to speed.
First, it costs much more time. We have attracted extra office staff to prepare documents and arrange customs clearance. A last-minute move is almost impossible now since it takes time to get all documents from the customer first.
It has changed a lot. We depend on customers to giving us good information, so we inform them very well, and we tell them that it is in their best interest to provide correct and sufficient documentation. This allows us to organize duty-free entry of their household goods into the new country.
All costs have been relayed to the customers. That was an easy decision for us. We decided however not to quote separate amounts for customs clearance but to include the customs costs in our price, to avoid any attempts for customers to negotiate the customs costs. This has worked very well. Other movers have also increased their prices so there has been no price war.
International Sales Director
We noticed an increase in the number of requests for moves between France and the UK - between the moment the Brexit was announced and the moment it came into force. Many customers wanted to proceed with their move before the import customs procedures were put in place. Also, big European companies and groups present in the UK have been recalling their employees settled in the UK. Resulting in an increase in the number of expat moves from the UK to Europe. Another consequence was the price increase resulting from the deferral of custom clearance fees, and the difficulties movers have had to face at customs during the first months following Brexit.
We were able to easily access useful information with the help of our UK partners and our FIDI/Euromovers networks. Moreover, our freight forwarders that have assisted us on our overseas operations, now provide us with their support on UK-France-UK customs procedures. The authorities have also simplified the process for arrivals and departures, allowing for all the paperwork to be submitted online.
Before Brexit entered into force, no paperwork was needed to import or exports household goods between France and the UK. Now, the procedure is different. Future expats originating from the EU need to submit a VISA request to be able to work in the UK, and therefore need to own a passport. On top of that, every person wanting to move to the UK needs to justify the move and declare the value of imported household goods. The value declaration procedure is easy and can be submitted online. To this day, used household goods are not subject to import taxes.
Prior to Brexit, the customer was only in charge of finding a moving company and a new residence. The moving company would take care of the shuttle, the parking permit, and the entire moving procedure. Since Brexit, the customer needs to submit their VISA request to the UK authorities. Once the necessary paperwork is done and approved, the moving company takes care of the logistics.
All costs have been relayed to the customers.
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