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Your Top Brexit Questions Answered

Brexit undoubtedly brings about a level of uncertainty for business owners and leaves many questions open for answers.

Below are the most important questions and answers on how to best prepare yourself and what DFDS will do to help ensure as smooth as possible a transition, deal or no-deal Brexit.


1: There is still a risk of a hard Brexit, how should I prepare for customs?

In case of a no-deal Brexit, a regime with customs declarations and checks will be implemented. To cope with this, exporters and importers need to prepare to have the right registrations and data on the goods and then either declare the goods themselves or use an agent to do it. Hauliers need to be aware of some formalities on equipment and ensure they have the proper information and documents for them to enter gates and leave ports without further delays. We recommend you visit our Brexit pages.

2: What is DFDS doing to avoid congestion after the Brexit deadline?

We are working with the authorities in relevant countries to ensure a smooth transition and that we fully understand the new requirements. To help avoid congestion we recommend you prepare for this by having all the necessary declarations and documents ready, required to make the crossing. No truck will be able to enter our terminals without the Movement Reference Numbers for their consignments. We are adapting our IT systems to communicate with the authorities as well as training our staff to perform customs clearance as a service in many locations. Furthermore, we are extending space in our terminals to accommodate more trucks and trailers.

3. Does DFDS have any information on the process after Brexit?

We aim to describe and update the process on our Brexit pages as well as by letter to our customers. Be aware that the processes are not the same in all locations. We are educating our port staff to handle the transition.


4: What DFDS systems will be integrated to support the requirements of Brexit (declaration of MRNs) MYFREIGHT / EDI etc.? How?

Phoenix will up be updated to handle MRNs. This will enable our customers to pass this information to us via EDI, MyFreight, e-mail or at the gate.

5: Does DFDS have a digital system in place to handle all aspects of Brexit?

We are adapting our IT systems to cope with the changed requirements. This has the highest priority; however, time is short and we might have to operate with some manual processes on various routes.


6: Is DFDS planning or preparing to maintain the same level of speed during check-in?

We might see a slow-down initially. However, we expect to learn and adapt to the new situation quickly so we hope we can regain most of the speed within some weeks.

7: Will additional information be required to make a booking? If so, what information?

Cargo descriptions need to be more specified. For each consignment, a Movement Reference Number (MRN) for the Export Declaration and Pre-Import or Import Declaration needs to be logged. On some routes the MRN for Safety and Security Declaration (ENS) needs to be captured as well. The UK will suspend the need for ENS for 6 months from day one in a No-Deal scenario. France may do the same.

8. How will the lack of Authorized Economic Operator status impact delivery flows?

DFDS currently has seven on-going AEO applications in addition to two AEO-certified affiliates in Sweden. While AEO-certification certainly has its advantages, we believe that the timely planning of customs documents in tandem with a strong organisational structure will prove more important for delivery flows than AEO status.

In any case, we believe that the flow of traffic will gradually become more fluid after Brexit, as more and more companies develop customs expertise and gain AEO certification.

9: Will drivers need to bring a passport rather than an ID card?

The driver will need to present a passport at the gate.


10: What is DFDS doing about Brexit in Dover/Calais/Dunkerque?

  • The Channel is the busiest corridor and therefore has top priority. We are in close cooperation with the authorities in order to secure as free a flow of traffic as possible.
  • Processes will be simpler as the UK will refrain from requesting Safety and Security Declarations six months after the Brexit exit. Read more on how it affects you as a freight ferry customer on the English Channel or the North Sea.
  • IT adds to the special Phoenix set-up we have on the Channel, so we can receive information via EDI and MyFreight and pass information directly to the authorities.

11: Does DFDS have the space at our English Cannel ports to facilitate customs clearance and deal with any other issues/problems/delays associated with Brexit?

For you as well as us, preparation is vital. Throughout the DFDS network, you must have all documents completed before arriving at the gate. If your processes are not yet fully clarified, we plan to launch a set-up that will enable us to help you navigate, communicate and solve your needs as fast and smoothly as possible.


12: How many extra sailings per day per route are you putting on the North Sea route for the UK?

The agreement with the Ministry of Transport will add one trip per week on the Immingham – Cuxhaven, Immingham – Rotterdam and Felixstowe – Rotterdam routes.

13. Will DFDS be reinstating a Scottish Ferry link?

It depends on Brexit negotiations and Scotland’s reaction to the specific developments. A hard Brexit might warrant an evaluation of the business case for a stronger connection between Scotland and continental Europe.


14: When shipping unaccompanied trailers, do we need to provide Security and Safety documentation for our trailers that we ship by DFDS?

Safety and Security Declarations are the responsibility of the carrier, so DFDS will be responsible for unaccompanied trailers. The driver will be responsible for the accompanied transport. DFDS can arrange to make the declaration for a fee. The UK will refrain from requesting Safety and Security Declarations for the first six months after Brexit. We expect that a number of other countries will do the same. We will keep you updated you on the matter on our Brexit pages.

15: Requests for shipping unaccompanied trailers will probably increase on all DFDS routes; are we prepared to meet this transport demand from hauliers?

Hard to tell how the market will develop. We have an agreement with the UK Department for Transport to provide extra sailings between the UK and the EU in the North Sea. In addition to this, DFDS has a flexible fleet which will allow us to adapt to changes in the market.


16: Will there be just a single Safety & Security Declaration for each individual commodity?

Yes. The Safety and Security Declaration (ENS) is linked to the individual commodity.


17: Can DFDS provide us with any information regarding the Exit Summary Declaration (ESD)? Who is responsible for creating such documents? Customs agency? Haulier? Carrier?

Providing Exit Summary Declarations (ESD) is the responsibility of the exporter. A customs agency will be able to assist with this. The need for an ESD varies from country to country, hence we recommend that you search for the information on the website of the country of departure. Go to our Useful Links page.

18: Should we give the ESD documents to DFDS while crossing to the UK?

No. DFDS needs proof that the documents are in place, and we save the Movement Reference Number (MRN) from the ESD as documentation of this.


19: What manual processes will be in place for sending MRN information should the EDI connection fail?

We can update the MRN information manually in Phoenix if EDI connections fail or the customer does not have EDI setup with DFDS.


20: Will the customs processes be the same in France and the UK?

Currently France seems to be softening its requirements so customs requirements seem to be the same. But the UK has opened up for a simplified import procedure. UK Customs seem to be focusing on stopping very few import units and not requiring border inspections on products classified as human food or products of animal origin from the EU.

21: How will we handle VAT changes (split between UK and France)?

Our systems will be modified, so they will handle this automatically.

22. Would it be possible to forego duty on trade altogether?

Yes. In the case of a hard Brexit, a setup with 0% duty is certainly an option. However, that would not eliminate the need for declarations and potential checks on products not of animal origin (non-POAO). Non-POAO products would still need to be inspected at the border between the EU and the UK.

23. Will DFDS offer customs brokerage?

Yes. DFDS has extensive experience with customs brokerage. We are also further enhancing our teams through additional recruitment and specialised training. That way, either we or our trusted partners (depending on the country) will be able to assist you with customs services.

To find out how DFDS can service your specific needs, reach out to your DFDS contact.


24: Will seafood require inspection at a border inspection point (BIP)?

Yes. Seafood products need to pass through a BIP to undergo documentary and identity inspections at the very least. Physical inspections can also be requested in some instances.

DFDS is currently engaged in high-level discussions regarding BIP procedures and locations with the goal of mitigating any potential negative implications for the food industry.

25. Will highly perishable cargo be fast-tracked?

It’s a priority. We currently offer late arrival and early discharge services on our Channel routes (Dover – Calais / Dunkerque), and early discharge on our classic ro-ro vessels. However, once the cargo arrives at the BIP, fast-tracking and processing will be up to the local EU authorities.

DFDS is currently liaising with the authorities regularly to make sure they are aware of the risks associated with the handling of perishable cargo. Additionally, DFDS is developing a range of services in Calais and Dover which will support you during your stop at the BIPs.


26. Will commodity codes remain the same?

Yes. The commodity codes are agreed internationally and will generally remain the same after Brexit. Minor variances could occur depending on the specific political agreements, but these will be accounted for.

Are you an exporter/importer of goods?

View the Brexit checklist for exporters and importers working with DFDS.

See your Brexit checklist

Are you a freight ferry customer?

Access the Brexit checklists for the DFDS freight ferry customers on:

Webinar: How to Navigate the Brexit Scenarios

Listen to the DFDS Brexit Team and the International Trade Expert Dr Elsa Leromain, and learn how the different Brexit scenarios could impact trade in the UK and in Europe. Find out the most important actions you can take to prepare your business.

Learn more

Customs tariffs, INCOTERMS, VAT rules in the EU and the UK, EORI number, HS Classification – this and much more might be valuable for you to know about.

Find it all on our Useful Links page including relevant UK and EU government websites.

Leave customs to us

As an EU certified AEO customs operator in many European countries you don’t have to be a customs specialist yourself – leave it to us. Simply get in touch with us and we’ll handle your customs declarations in your own language and in due time.

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