Common issues in logistics and supply chain in a pandemic, post-Brexit world

September 07, 2021 - 12:00am

Common issues in logistics and supply chain in a pandemic, post-Brexit world

Part 1: Getting the paperwork right

Daniel Barry, North Star Logistics

The ongoing struggles that UK businesses have faced regarding Brexit, the Coronavirus pandemic, and usual “black swan” events has been well reported. With cross border supply and import disruption and rising costs, there is a significant focus on logistics and supply chain as integral elements to trade and business success.

At North Star we engage with our clients, logistics leaders, business leaders of all enterprise sizes and find the same concerns and issues are shared time and again. There is no magic wand to fix these issues, but we believe a lot of the problems can be mitigated through knowledge and training.

We are working with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce to respond to a collection of FAQ and statements taken from member businesses. This will be the first in a series of 3 articles on questions surrounding documentation, shipping and Northern Ireland and finally general logistics and supply chain issues.

This may not answer all your concerns so we are happy to answer queries in further conversations. In the meantime, we hope the following will help…

1. Ongoing confusion surrounding the different documentation needed to ship goods post-Brexit - T1s, EUR1s and UK Certificate of Origin’s plus commercial invoice wording.

As a general guide there are up to 8 requirements (not all documents) as categorised below:

• EORI number – Your unique business number, often your VAT number “GB…” followed by an additional 3 numbers. Required on all customs declarations, and trade with NI now requires an additional one beginning XI.

• An invoice – commercial, pro-forma, credit, consular or customs

• Packing list – useful for multiple items preventing search

• Any licenses or certificates – especially in perishable or food goods

• Dangerous goods declaration

• Shipping documents – Bill of lading (sea), airway bill (air), CMR (road); your shipper should arrange this with the correct details

• Incoterms – the basis on which you are trading and assigning responsibility

• Declarations – Weight, values, safety…

We would strongly advise training for anyone dealing with this check list to prevent delays or issues with shipping.

2. Goods seem to be held at the docks due to confusion between docks staff and hauliers

According to Port News (July 2021) this is still an ongoing issue and is usually in relation to point 1 as drivers wait in queues for paperwork approval to access port areas. Of course, the pandemic has had its effect on staffing and so has Brexit, but it is often the flaws in documentation and the information being presented that is causing the hold up.

Then there are the honest mix-ups which are equally painful, but in our time spent working with 3PLs this doesn’t happen often so getting your documents correct is usually the answer.

3. Greater clarity on which products will be exempted from Export Health certificates as amendments to EU regulations regarding self-certification of certain food products come in this month.

Several additional checks for fresh food and livestock have been in place since January 2021 creating some grey areas that have had substantial impact in business. This has especially been in the fish and meat produce sector.

The changes, that will start to come in from October with a hard placement from January 2022, will ease shipping – but only if your documentation for border checks is in place beforehand. The EU SPS and Border control Post inspections do have a number of requirements of which should be observed to avoid any impact or loss due to goods delays:

• Importer is responsible for presentation

• All goods accompanied by Health certificates

• Customs documents to be checked, IDs and possible physical checks

• CHED assigned and only then will the produce leave

For shelf stable goods without fresh produce ingredients, these follow the same process as before and are exempt

4. Disparity on the interpretation of rules of origin in some countries. Notably the Netherlands and Germany will ask for certificates for proof of preferential origin.

This is perfectly standard and was in place before BREXIT, just not with the EU. Pre-Brexit, all goods could move around the EU freely without incurring duty costs. Now there is a preferential Free-trade agreement between the EU and the UK. This means depending on the type of goods, and providing the goods were made in the EU or the UK, and the movement was in either direction, the duty will be lowered and potentially free depending on the commodity code/HS code and or countries in the exchange.

It is the importers responsibility to ensure that they can prove there is no duty to pay. This will include asking the exporter to show proof of origin of goods.

5. Issues continue to be raised concerning rules of origin and origin declarations.

The rules of origin determine the economic nationality of a product, which in turn determines the appropriate treatment of imported goods leading to preferential origin or non-preferential origin. Usually this should be straightforward, i.e. Where were the goods made? But there are some nuances including the last substantial transformation leading to confusion.

If you’d like further insight on the issues above, or have other questions, do drop me a line on or call me on +44 7984 685 913.

We’d be happy to share our knowledge which has come from dealing with both local and international supply chains, as well as from the logistics industry.