No matter what happens: England-Gateway Cuxhaven is ready for Brexit
Cuxhaven is sailing around potential border control backlogs from and to England thanks to unaccompanied, driverless trailer transits starting on “Day One”
Cuxhaven, 20 December 2020 – On 31 December, the Brexit transition period ends and with that, customs formalities between the European Union and United Kingdom will enter into force. For many months, disruptions of the high-frequency, escorted trailer truck transits along the English Channel are expected due to the newly required customs clearance. But the German port of Cuxhaven is ready for Brexit: port businesses, customs officials and shipping companies have been working in high gear for the last 24 months so that from the first minute of the implementation of Brexit and onward, customers will be offered fluid and unimpacted customs and cargo handling processes.
At the port of Cuxhaven, roughly 70 percent of the cargo handled is generated by transits to Great Britain. Because of the importance of this UK trade, port businesses, customs authorities and shipping companies started preparing early for the impacts and changes required by Brexit. When Great Britain exits the EU internal market and the customs union at the end of the year, customs notices, export terms and tax rules between the EU and the United Kingdom will decisively change – irrespective of whether there is a trade agreement in place or if, upon the occurrence of a “hard Brexit”, the World Trade Organization minimum standards will automatically enter into force.
For this reason, the terminal operators and shipping companies in Cuxhaven involved in trades to/from England renewed their AEO status as certified economic participants so that they can speed along customs processing for third party countries, such as for the United Kingdom after Brexit. Also, members of the Cuxhaven Port Association (HWG), including Cuxport and the Danish shipping company DFDS A/S, implemented the required electronic interfaces with the customs-operated ATLAS (Automated Tariff and Local Customs Processing System) IT system and they have trained their personnel accordingly. Additionally, all companies involved in transportation in the port of Cuxhaven can rely on their years of experience with customs processes.
“Cuxhaven is ready for Brexit. From the first minute of Brexit, we are offering customs processing without traffic jams or interruptions – also because we can ship the trailers without their drivers. Import consignments with incorrect or missing customs documents can be separated out on an expanded area until they have been put through customs and picked up, and do not hinder or delay any other shipments,” explains Peter Zint, chairman of the Cuxhaven Port Association and managing director of Cuxport GmbH. “In this sense, Cuxhaven is a good alternative to the accompanied trailer transports via the ports along the English Channel, which are likely to experience traffic jams and delays after 1 January.”
The advantage of unaccompanied trailer transits is that if there are any delays in the customs process, this does not cause any delays and waiting times with corresponding added costs for drivers and trucks and for other consignments. For trailer trucks with the right customs papers, Cuxhaven guarantees delay-free processing and a punctual departure of the vessel. If there are problems, terminal workers on site will, as required, assist with post-processing and import trailers, containers and new vehicles have sufficient parking opportunities until such time as customs processing is complete. The overall transport chain becomes more reliable and calculable. Drivers and trucks do not need to wait for vehicles in front of them before continuing their journeys, they can directly leave the port to pursue other tasking. In addition to this, customs bonded storage is available for such imported goods as must remain in port for longer than 90 days. Berth 4 and adjacent handling area was opened in 2018 which created appropriate cargo handling and storage space early on.
Ortolf Barth, route manager of DFDS, a HWG member, explained: “DFDS has an expert Brexit team that supports customers of individual routes in handling customs documents. With this, for departures from Cuxhaven, even after the transition period, we are offering a frictionless ferry service to the United Kingdom, like always.”