Traders ‘far’ from being ready for Brexit, transport industry warns

Importers and exporters urged to ‘get organised’ to deal with flood of new paperwork

Traders importing and exporting goods to and from the UK are "still quite far away" from being ready to deal with Brexit, the head of a group representing transport companies has warned.

Logistics firms attending a seminar hosted by the Irish International Freight Association to help logistics companies prepare for the UK's departure from the EU expressed concern that not all firms were ready.

The seminar heard from experts about new customs arrangements at British, French and Belgian ports. They revealed details of the vast amounts of additional paperwork required entering and leaving the UK after it leaves the EU on October 31st which companies must have ready for trucks to pass through ports.

Tom Thornton, the IIFA's Brexit spokesman, urged companies "to really get themselves organised".


“All the State agencies are prepared and have put plans and processes in place that will actually work. The problem is getting the market ready to supply the information that is needed to allow it to happen,” he said.

Documentation needed

Traders must complete an export declaration for the UK, an import declaration for the Irish Revenue Commissioners and a safety and security declaration for the EU for goods moving between the two countries.

“The big risk is the guys who are not prepared. The risk is going to be the ones who turn up at the port and who aren’t prepared and may cause traffic chaos,” said Mr Thornton.

The seminar was told about the additional resources needed to transport certain goods. One example was cited of the London Symphony Orchestra which now employs a person to deal full-time with rules covering trade in endangered species because piano keys are made of ivory and violin bows are made from animal hair.

Preparation levels

Terry Sweeney, chief operations officer of Irish transport company Seabridge, said he thought Irish industry was "probably better prepared" for Brexit than businesses in the UK.

"There is not panic in Ireland but there is certainly a realisation in Ireland that this will happen whereas perhaps in the UK this is going to be such a monumental change that it cannot all happen on day one. There has to be some transition or leeway," he said.

Mr Sweeney said he felt “sadness” seeing the Brexit date of October 31st appear on information presentations at the seminar because of the additional amount of money, resources and hours required to deal with trade over a new border with the EU after the UK leaves.

“People complain about the EU being a bureaucratic institution but look at all the bureaucracy that is cut away in trade between nations and look at what is going to happen,” he said.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times