Brexit: Challenges faced by exporters in the first weeks

25th January 2021

2 min read

Author: Tim Purcell, R&D Director, Datel

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced the agreement on a trade deal, coming into effect on the 1st January 2021. For many of our customers, this has led to major changes in their processes and businesses as a whole.

Handling increased data requirements

Any company that exports to the EU has for some time known that the transition period following the UK's exit from the customs union would end at the end of 2020. What hasn't been clear is under what terms, making it hard to prepare for. Previously, goods were able to cross the Channel with relative ease, and under any deal or no-deal, it's been known that the level of documentation required by carriers was likely to increase. 

Under the threat of a No Deal scenario, messaging from the Government was preparing businesses to provide a lot of extra data or documentation with their shipments, specifically around commercial invoicing. Later in the year, as it looked like there could be a deal, the messaging subtly changed and suggested that in the event of a deal, businesses might need to provide some of that information. Exactly what data was needed is now causing a lot of the confusion we are seeing currently. 

Adapting to changes 

In response to this uncertainty, we’ve noticed amongst our customers that companies are taking different approaches. Some are viewing the situation as it unfolds, holding back on their exports in early January. Those that cannot pause are pushing through, and reacting to an ever-changing set of requirements. Because of these day-by-day alterations, large volumes of shipments have been blocked and hauliers have to retrospectively provide the customs information for customs, sometimes for individual parcels. 

The additional admin from having to provide new data such as commodity codes, EORI references, weights and dimensions is proving costly for our customers. Some have been considering changing carriers, or debating whether to trade with the EU at all. Everyone though is looking at their systems, and finding out how Sage can support their new data demands. 

For those that have a significant volume of trade to the EU, some are now looking to automate their data transfer and are working either directly with the carrier or via a partner such as ourselves to make sure that that flow of information is as seamless as possible. However, there is still an administrative overhead, even with automation, as processes need to be altered to allow for the extra customs information. 

As the situation evolves and businesses look to scale their trade with the EU back to previous levels, the pressures on customs will increase, in turn increasing requests for correct information and seamless transactions.

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Getting the most out of your systems

Trading in the EU provides a set of challenges that affect each business in different ways affecting processes, data capture and integrations. However, there may be ways that the use of Sage in these companies can help, such as through the production of documentation or the automated transfer of information to carrier systems.

A discussion with your Account Manager about how Brexit is affecting your business and how we are helping other businesses capture and produce the required customs information may identify areas where some of these complexities can be reduced.