The big issue

Nov 13 | 2015

Well actually it’s two big issues: European customs clearance and container weighing. If any of you international movers out there are stifling a yawn at this moment, I suggest you take a shot of espresso before reading further. This is important stuff.

For many years companies receiving household goods into the EU have been able to clear containers in the country in which they land and deliver the individual groupage shipments elsewhere in the EU without further clearance. The UK has the simplest customs clearance processes of any EU country with shipments being able to be cleared simply on a C3 form. That, plus the fact that the UK is a major destination for household goods anyway, meant that UK movers receive more than their fair share of inbound shipments when they included goods for other countries. The UK is, literally, the gateway to Europe.

In February this system will change. Then it will be necessary for goods to be cleared not where they land but in their destination country. There are now no borders in Europe so shipments will need to travel under bond, be deposited with a local moving agent, cleared separately and delivered later. No door-to-door service. Costs will rise, transit times will be extended, volumes will fall as some people decide not to bother shipping anything, and movers will probably get the blame for the delays. Are you ready for this? If not you should be. There will be more in next month’s Mover.

Then there’s container weighing. From July 2016 every container that is loaded on any vessel anywhere in the world must have a verified weight certificate. This means that you will have to weigh containers empty on the vehicle and again full and show the actual weight on the shipping documentation. This is a headache for most countries and a complete disaster for others. Nobody really knows how it’s going to work. The port authorities are not interested in doing it; the shipping lines likewise. Some countries have public weighing facilities, others don’t. The UK is better served than some, but there are still not enough – and can you imagine the queues! Again we will be writing about this in more detail later but, meanwhile, I suggest you start making some plans. Don’t wait until July hoping the legislation won’t be enforced. By all accounts it will and, without the necessary weight certificate, your containers won’t be going anywhere.

You have been warned.