The European Union and the United Kingdom have entered into a trade deal, which will take effect on 1 January 2021. Despite the agreement, customs formalities will apply to freight traffic with the UK as of then.

Each year, millions of tonnes of freight are imported and exported through the port of Rotterdam. The Port of Rotterdam Authority has been working for more than two years in close collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), Customs, Portbase, ferry companies, local governments, and other partners in the logistics chain to ensure the shipment of freight from Rotterdam to the UK ports runs as smoothly as possible.

Minimising the risk of traffic disruption
Forwarders, terminals, and authorities will have to get used to the new situation. New customs formalities could result in there being delays at the ferry terminal gates. In spite of all the preparations and precautions, there is a chance that the logistics process will be running less smoothly than normal in the first days of the new year. From 1 January 2021, we will therefore introduce traffic measures in the vicinity of the ferry terminals to limit the impact of Brexit. These measures are based on a range of traffic simulations. Temporary parking areas for trucks have been created at or in the vicinity of the ferry terminals at Hoek van Holland, Vlaardingen, and in the port area of Europoort. To manage the flow of traffic in the area, signs have been erected and traffic marshals will be operating. We anticipate that these measures will be needed for no longer than six to eight weeks.

Frequently asked questions and answers

Brexit-relevant facts and figures about the Port of Rotterdam

• Regarding volume, after Russia the United Kingdom is the second country of origin for freight transported via sea to and from Rotterdam. After Germany, Belgium and Russia, the UK is the fourth country regarding total throughput, at some 40 million tonnes (8.5% of the Rotterdam total).

• British imports are mostly comprised of short sea: Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) cargo, containers and liquid bulk. British exports to the Netherlands comprise mainly liquid bulk (particularly North Sea oil) and shortsea and RoRo cargo.

• CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) calculated in 2016 that Brexit could have a significant negative effect on the Dutch economy. This is because the Dutch economy, compared with the EU, is more interwoven via trade with the UK economy. According to the CPB, the costs for the Netherlands could amount to 1.2% of GDP by 2030, which amounts to some € 10 million or € 575 per resident. CPB thinks that the impact will be greatest on production in the food processing industry, chemical industry, plastic and rubber industry, electronic appliance industry, means of transport industry, and metals and minerals industry.

• The trade effect of Brexit on maritime transport from and to the Dutch sea ports may be considerable, as is shown in a report, ‘Stormy seas ahead?’, from the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis (8 February 2018). The CPB’s Brexit trade scenarios were used as starting point for estimating this effect. Regarding the outgoing transport, the effect of Brexit has been jointly estimated for all Dutch ports as being -4.4% in the unfavourable scenario and -2.6% in the favourable scenario.

• If the UK leaves the internal market, customs formalities will need to take place. The Netherlands will need to establish customs facilities for this, also in the Port of Rotterdam. The Customs Administration of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) are recruiting additional personnel for this (750-930 for Customs and up to 143 for NVWA).

How is the Port of Rotterdam preparing for Brexit?

• An important consequence of Brexit is that it will not only affect terminals and shipping companies; its effects will continue throughout the entire hinterland logistics chain. This means that, if a German shipper does not have a customs number or its VAT declaration is incorrect, it will not be granted access to the Rotterdam terminal. It is therefore essential that all parties in the logistics chain adjust to the fact that the UK will become a third country. In September 2018, only 18% of Dutch businesses trading with the UK was actively preparing for Brexit. That is why the Port Authority is continuously stressing that all links in the logistics chain, from terminal operators to shippers, need to make preparations. Companies that wish to apply for a customs number should do so via this link.
• Brexit may result in congestion around the terminals in the port, as additional formalities could lead to delays, for instance if transporters do not have the correct freight documentation. To reduce this risk as far as possible, the Port Authority has consulted with terminal operators and surrounding municipalities to create additional parking areas for freight transport at or around the terminals.
• The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the terminals have conducted a simulation study into the possible impact of Brexit on the infrastructure in and around the terminals. The government and road authority can use the outcomes of this simulation to remove the most significant bottlenecks.
• As RoRo and short sea terminals do not yet have the necessary IT infrastructure for trade with third-country traffic, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is helping, via daughter company PortBase, to make IT system connections that fully automate the formalities, as is the case for container terminals. This will ensure the fewest possible delays in trading with the UK.

What opportunities and threats does Brexit pose for the Port of Rotterdam?

• In the short term, the possible delays at RoRo and short sea terminals are the most acute threat to smooth trade with the UK. In the medium and long term, the reintroduction of trade tariffs could result in changes in production processes and distribution systems, which could lead to smaller trade flows. For Rotterdam, this also offers opportunities, for example if companies move their activities from the UK to Rotterdam. The Port Authority and the city of Rotterdam are cooperating closely on this.

How can the Port Authority help the business sector in the port to limit the negative consequences of Brexit as far as possible?

• The Port of Rotterdam Authority has been actively informing the business sector regarding the possible consequences of Brexit for over a year now, and that preparations need to take place in time. The Port Authority has also held many consultations with the government, municipalities and inspection agencies on behalf of Rotterdam’s business sector to ensure that all government efforts connect well with the needs of the business sector. This concerns issues including sufficient customs capacity and sufficient opportunities for veterinary and phytosanitary inspections so that these can take place in the port area.
• The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the terminals have conducted a simulation study into the possible impact of Brexit on the infrastructure in and around the terminals. The government and road authority can use the outcomes of this simulation to remove the most significant bottlenecks.
• As RoRo and short sea terminals do not yet have the necessary IT infrastructure for trade with third-country traffic, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is helping, via daughter company PortBase, to make IT system connections that fully automate the formalities, as is the case for container terminals. This will ensure the fewest possible delays in trading with the UK.

Where can I find inspection points for the import of products in the port of Rotterdam?
What traffic measures are being introduced around the ferry terminals from 1 January 2021?

In an effort to make the shipment of freight from Rotterdam to British ports run as smoothly as possible while minimising the risk of traffic disruption due to congestion, local governments, authorities, maritime and other transport terminals have made appropriate preparations for the new situation. New customs formalities could result in there being delays at the ferry terminal gates.

Minimising the risk of disruption
In order to prevent congestion, temporary parking areas for trucks have been created at or in the vicinity of the ferry terminals at Hoek van Holland, Vlaardingen, and in the port area of Europoort. To manage the flow of traffic in the area, signs are being erected and traffic marshals will be operating. We anticipate that these measures will be needed for no longer than six to eight weeks.

Read the traffic measures that are being introduced near the ferry terminals. These measures are based on a range of traffic simulations.

Do passenger ferries have access to the port of Rotterdam?

23/12/2020
Yes, passenger ferries have access. Passengers have access, provided they can submit a negative PCR test statement upon arrival in the Netherlands. This goes into effect from 23 December 2020, 00.00 hours (NL time).

Read more

Do ferries with trucks and drivers have access to the port of Rotterdam?

Yes, they do. The ferries with trucks and drivers can enter the port area of Rotterdam.
For the drivers, a negative rapid antigen test result is required. This requirement took effect on 19 January 2021, at 00:01 a.m. (time of departure from UK port).

  • As from 19 January 2021, everybody who comes on board must be able to show a negative PCR test result (not older than 72 hours). Additionally, they need to have a negative rapid antigen test result (not older than four hours).
  • Truck drivers must be able to show a negative antigen rapid test result (not older than 24 hours). They do not require a negative PCR test result.

READ MORE

21/12/2020
Yes. Ferries with trucks and drivers can access the ports of Rotterdam and IJmuiden. The cabinet wants to keep the transport of essential goods going. The ferries will continue to sail for trucks with goods. This is in line with the approach for aviation, where cargo flights from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands remain possible. The new move by the government follows the imposition of the no-fly zone which came into force this morning.

Read more

Where can I find inspection points for the import of products in the port of Rotterdam?

Livestock inspection point
Since 8 January 2021, a so-called livestock inspection point has been operational in the port of Rotterdam. The Animal Centre Hoek van Holland (ACH) is located at the terminal of ferry operator Stena Line and is a cooperation between ECS Livestock and Stena Line. The inspection point in Hoek van Holland is the only inspection point in the Dutch ports where live animals can undergo veterinary inspections. Since 1 January, inspections are mandatory for animals coming from the United Kingdom.

Read more

How can I pre-announce my import or export cargo via Portbase?

Every transport to and from the United Kingdom begins with customs formalities. Only cargo that has been pre-announced digitally is allowed to enter or leave the ferry or shortsea terminal. Only pre-announced import or export cargo is allowed to enter or leave the terminals in the Dutch ports. If you do not pre-announce the documents correctly or not at all, your cargo will certainly not be going anywhere. Are you certain that the pre-announcement procedure of your customs documents is running smoothly? Some practical tips about the services are provided in four brief Portbase videos. In these 5-minute videos, you are guided along the major steps for correct document pre-announcement and for checking the shipment status at the terminal.

Quick guide to the Brexit services of Portbase

• The summary video: Masterclass pre-notification import and export documentation
• Part 1 Notification Export Documentation - Pre-notification of export documentation
• Part 2 Track & Trace Export – Tracking of export shipments
• Part 3 Notification Export Documentation - Pre-notification of import documentation
• Part 4 Import Status – Tracking of import shipments

Are you ready for Brexit?

As of the 1st of January 2021, customs formalities will definitely be in effect for cargo traffic with the United Kingdom. From that date on, a declaration must be submitted to Customs prior to each transport. Questions about Brexit? You'll find answers in the Get Ready for Brexit newsletter and you can read how various partners in Get Ready for Brexit are offering you a helping hand.

Read the Get ready for Brexit newsletter October 2020
Read the Get ready for Brexit newsletter December 2020

Time for action!

Any transport to the United Kingdom will require a customs declaration from 1 January onwards and the customs document to be pre-notified at the ferry or short sea terminal. Whether you are a driver, carrier, freight forwarder, importer or exporter, everyone must prepare themselves and make good arrangements with each other. By taking action together now, cargo will always be able to pass through our port quickly. Arrange it immediately and ensure that your chain partners do the same. Only together can we prevent delays. With only such a short time left to go, now is the time for action!

Source: Get Ready For Brexit

Ready for Brexit in 5 steps

Step 1: Register with Customs
No relationship with Customs yet? Request an EORI number with them as soon as possible.

Step 2: Decide who takes care of the import and export declarations
After Brexit, determine whether you will submit import and/or export declarations to Customs yourself or whether you will use a forwarder or customs agent for this.

Step 3: Determine who is responsible for the pre-notification of customs documents
After Brexit, the pre-notification of customs documents via Portbase is mandatory at all ferry terminals and most shortsea terminals. The importer/exporter can do this, but also the forwarder, customs agent or, on occasion, the transport company. Make clear agreements about this! Without pre-notification, the transporter will not be granted access to the terminal.

Step 4: Subscribe to the Portbase services
You can digitally pre-notify and track your cargo in real time via Portbase. For import cargo, subscribe to the services Notification Import Documentation and Import Status. For export cargo, you need the services Notification Export Documentation and Track & Trace Export.

Step 5: Check beforehand whether the terminal has the customs document
Only cargo that has been digitally pre-notified can enter and leave the terminal. Otherwise, the container or trailer will come to a standstill here.

Downloads

Are your ready for Brexit? Download theGet Ready For Brexit Flyer and handbook.

Put of all Europe within reach

Of the 54 million tonnes of goods traded between the Netherlands and the UK every year, approximately 80% goes via the port of Rotterdam.
This makes the port of Rotterdam is an important logistics hub for import from and export to the UK.

Rotterdam is among the top 3 RoRo ports in Western Europe. Five terminals ensure efficient handling and are connected to the European transport network.

Various terminals have access to an on-site rail terminal, which connects Rotterdam with countries including Poland, Germany and Italy.

The port of Rotterdam is also a well-developed shortsea hub. The Rotterdam shortsea network offers over 200 destinations to various ports in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, the Baltic States and Russia.

The 24/7 accessibility of the terminals in conjunction with the ‘just in time’ principle allows cargo to be delivered to the terminals just before departure, a major advantage for shipping lines, shippers and forwarders.

Find out more about the RoRo services and short sea solutions.

This web page contains information for:

Information for shipping

Brexit or no Brexit, all ocean shipping should register a call at the Port of Rotterdam with the harbour master in advance. Please click on the links for more information for visiting ocean shipping and inland shipping.

Information for exporters and importers

After the United Kingdom has exited the European Union (EU), it will no longer be an EU member state. Procedures are needed at customs to import and export between EU member states and the UK. After Brexit, Dutch companies must complete Customs declarations for exports and imports. In the event of a so-called hard Brexit, there will be no transition period - importers and exporters will notice the consequences immediately.

In addition to the customs regulations, you could also be confronted with other formalities such as inspections for animal products or additional regulations for the import and export of waste.
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) is calling on businesses that supply freight to clients in the United Kingdom or that receive freight from the United Kingdom, to register in time on the digital systems that are needed for the application and processing of import and export inspections and certificates.

Information for road transport

After the United Kingdom has exited the European Union (EU), it will no longer be an EU member state. Procedures are needed at customs to import and export between EU member states and the UK. After Brexit, Dutch companies must complete Customs declarations for exports and imports.
Regulations will change for ferry freight transport after Brexit. Prior to transport, at least three formalities must be in order:

  1. Booking at the ferry company.
  2. Customs declaration of the freight being transported.
  3. Registration of the customs documentation via PortBase.

If the transport does not meet these three conditions, the truck driver will be refused access to the ferry terminal. Truck drivers are therefore advised to drive to ferry terminals only after their customs declaration for their cargo has been made and customs documents have been registered in advance. More information is available from www.getreadyforbrexit.eu

Temporary buffer parking areas

Temporary buffer parking areas have been created in the vicinity of the ferry terminals. Truck drivers who are refused access to the terminal, can arrange the required formalities in this parking area, in cooperation with their client or transport planner.

Information for local residents

Brexit will lead to additional customs formalities, passport controls and possibly to additional inspections by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). This can result in longer processing times at the ferry terminals and increased traffic on or near the terminals. It is possible that you will be inconvenienced by traffic congestion. Up-to-date traffic information can be found on www.rotterdamonderweg.nl and www.vananaarbeter.nl.

Road authority, Rijkswaterstaat, local governments, the port business sector, the transport sector and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are working together closely to minimise the risk of traffic and parking congestion as a consequence of Brexit. For instance, emergency overflow facilities for trucks are being created on or near to the ferry terminals at Hoek van Holland and the Europoort port area. New temporary buffer parking locations are also being created on the north and south bank of the Nieuwe Waterweg.

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