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Your UK border control questions answered

Doing business between the UK and EU has changed. Below are a few vital questions and answers on how to keep your goods moving in and out of the UK:


1. How should I prepare for customs?

A regime of 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 UK border control pages.

2. What is DFDS doing to avoid congestion after December 31?

We are working with the authorities in relevant countries to fully understand the new requirements and ensure a smooth transition. To help avoid congestion we recommend you prepare by having all the necessary declarations and documents 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. Will the rules change?

Things may still change if new political agreements are made before the end of 2020. We aim to describe and update the process on our UK border control 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 new UK border control requirements? How?

Phoenix IS updated to handle MRNs and GMR. This enables our customers to pass this information to us via EDI (except for Channel routes), MyFreight, e-mail or at the gate.

5. What manual processes will be in place for sending MRN and GMR information should the EDI connection fail?

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

6. Does DFDS have a digital system in place to handle all aspects of the new UK border control?

We are adapting our IT systems to cope with the changed requirements but may have to operate with some manual processes on various routes.


7. Is DFDS planning to maintain the same level of speed during check-in?

We might see an initial slow-down but expect to learn and adapt to the new situation quickly.

8. Will additional information be required to make a booking?

Cargo descriptions need to be more specified. For each consignment, an MRN and GMR for the Export Declaration and Pre-Import or Import Declaration need to be logged. On some routes the MRN and GMR for Safety & Security Declaration (ENS) need to be captured as well.

9. 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 in 2021, as more and more companies develop customs expertise and gain AEO certification.

10. Will drivers need to bring a passport rather than an ID card?

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


Dover / Calais / Dunkerque:

11. What is DFDS doing about UK border control in Dover/Calais/Dunkerque?

The Channel is the busiest corridor and therefore has top priority. We cooperate closely with the authorities to secure as free a flow of traffic as possible.
IT adds to the special Phoenix set-up we have on the Channel, so we can receive information via MyFreight and pass information directly to the authorities.

12. Does DFDS have room at the English Channel ports to facilitate customs clearance and deal with any other issues/problems/delays associated with the UK border control rules?

Preparation is vital for all of us. 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.

North Sea:

13. 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.

14. Will DFDS be reinstating a Scottish Ferry link or the Esbjerg-Harwich service?

We have previously operated these routes and closed them due to there not being a feasible business case for keeping them open. There is no indication that there is a market for reinstating these routes and we have no plans to do so.


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

Safety & 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 December 31.

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

It is hard to foresee how the market will develop. DFDS has a flexible fleet which will allow us to adapt to changes in the market.


17. Will there be just a single Safety & Security Declaration for each individual commodity?

Yes. The Safety & Security Declaration (ENS) is linked to the individual consignment.


18. Can DFDS provide us with any information regarding the Exit Summary Declaration (EXS)? Who is responsible for creating documents? Customs agency? Haulier?

From the 1st October 2021 it became mandatory for all Vehicles leaving the UK to EU to have a Safety & Security Declaration, also known as an Exit Summary Declaration (EXS). It is the responsibility of the operator of the active means of transport (which is the haulier for accompanied units or the ferry operator for unaccompanied units) to ensure that all vehicles in the below categories, shipping from the UK, have made an EXS declaration:

  • Empty pallets, containers, or vehicles moving under a transport contract (including empty reusable packaging such as stillages or roll-cages).
  • Goods have remained in temporary storage for more than 14 days.
  • Goods which have remained in temporary storage for less than 14 days, but the import ENS details are unknown, or the destination consignee has changed.
  • Goods being moved under transit using a Transit Accompanying Document (TAD), a Transit Security Accompanying Document (TSAD), or Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) carnet document.

For vehicles that are loaded, the information required for the EXS will already be part of the full export declaration, and therefore a separate EXS declaration will not need to be created.

You can find more detailed information about EXS declarations via the government website.


19. Will the customs processes be the same in the rest of the EU?

Differ, refer to your local

20. How will we handle VAT changes (split between UK and France)?

Our systems will be modified to handle this automatically.

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

Possible import duty and VAT depend on the classification of the goods and where they come from. Information on this can be found in your country’s customs website

22. Will DFDS offer customs brokerage?

Yes. DFDS and our partners have extensive experience with customs brokerage and can assist you with customs services.

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

23. 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.


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.

25. Will highly perishable cargo be fast-tracked?

It’s a priority. We currently offer late arrival 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.

Are you an exporter/importer of goods?

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

Are you a freight ferry customer?

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

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.

DFDS Trieste 102-Intermodal 2018

Useful links

Customs tariffs, INCOTERMS, VAT rules in the EU and the UK, EORI number, HS Classification: find it all on our Useful Links page, including relevant UK and EU government websites.