UK goods delayed due to IT problems with customs system

Importers hit by additional delays on stock from Britain due to volume of customs filings

Traders and transport agents were unable to pre-enter shipments of imports into the Revenue system on Sunday and again on Wednesday with further delays reported on Thursday. File photograph: Getty

Traders and transport agents were unable to pre-enter shipments of imports into the Revenue system on Sunday and again on Wednesday with further delays reported on Thursday. File photograph: Getty

 

Businesses reported additional severe delays this week on the import of goods from Britain as the Revenue’s IT customs system crashed on a number of occasions due to higher volumes.

Traders and transport agents were unable to pre-enter shipments of imports into the Revenue system on Sunday and again on Wednesday with further delays reported on Thursday.

The failure of the system was attributed to a large number of parcel consignments being processed by the big parcel distribution companies alongside increased freight volumes.

New post-Brexit border checks applying to goods from Britain since the UK left the EU single market and customs union on December 31st has already slowed the flow of goods as businesses and officials grapple with the vast amount of new paperwork required.

The haulage and logistics industry has said that about one-in-five lorries and consignments coming into the State was already being “red-routed” for checks due to inadequate paperwork.

The glitches in the Revenue’s customs IT system – the second week that the system has gone in the past three weeks – has added to those delays

It means that companies were not issued with customs numbers that allow them to process their lorry trailers and containers through customs and out of Dublin Port.

One UK logistics company said it had trailers stuck at the port for five days.

A Revenue spokesman said in response to queries from The Irish Times that it had identified “degradation in performance” of the IT system “during times of peak processing resulting in delayed responses to declarations and other messages lodged by trade”.

One contributing factor was the growth in the number of “large filers with lots of small consignments” – the parcel delivery companies – which has “increased significantly with the move to online shopping since the start of the pandemic”, said the Revenue.

It acknowledged that the delay in processing causes difficulties and said its IT team was working to increase capacity at peak processing times. The spokesman said Revenue was working with the “large filers” to develop “tailored solutions” and to ensure that other goods traffic, such as lorry and container freight, is “not adversely impacted by peak load processing delays”.

Aidan Flynn, general manager of the Freight Transport Association Ireland, said Revenue’s systems failure was “adding fuel to the fire and complexity to the importation process”.

Mr Flynn said the industry believed the Revenue’s system was designed to cope with the “well-flagged requirements” from the forecast 12-fold increase in customs declarations to 20 million a year after Brexit.

“We were told before the system came in, before Brexit, that it was going to work, that it was sufficient to work and it was ready,” he said.