European Customs: are you ready for the change?

Dec 13 | 2015

It could easily be the biggest storm that has hit the shipment of household goods to Europe this century. When Article 123 of EC Regulation 1186/2009 becomes effective on 1 February, 2016 everything changes.

For many years the Transfer of Residence procedures for household goods entering the EU allowed for goods to be customs cleared in the country in which they first arrived, then delivered to their final destination.  From 1st February 2016 these ToR procedures will be granted only to by the Customs Authority in the Member State in which the goods will be put to use.  

The import regulations in the UK have always been very straight-forward, more so than other EU Member States.  So many shippers chose to send groupage containers, with goods for distribution throughout Europe, via the UK consolidators.  In future, each consignment will need to be held under bond and cleared separately at its final destination.  

The effect of the change will be felt globally in the industry.  Shippers will have to decide to which country they ship their consolidated traffic.  It will change depending on the mix of shipments in the container. Some may choose to send goods LCL.  Destination agents throughout the Union will, no doubt, benefit, except those in the UK that will find this lucrative revenue stream curtailed.   

Costs will increase as will transit times.  Those increases will also dissuade some customers from shipping household goods into Europe as there will always be some for whom the economics of shipment are marginal.  

Jennifer Sloan, Manager, European Relocations Services in Marseilles, France said that French companies had lost much business over the years because shipments bound for France had been routed via the UK. “I think that France may get more LCL shipments due to the loads that will not be moving via groupage anymore.  It means more business directly to the country, a benefit to all French movers. Also there might be better efforts by partners elsewhere to ship groupage containers to France rather than splitting them out as before via the UK.”  

The UK groupage companies will, however, lose out.  There is also little consensus on exactly what the new procedure should be, how much they will cost and how long deliveries will take in the future.  Shippers should be aware of these changes and advise their clients accordingly if shipments leaving their origin countries now are expected to arrive in Europe after 1st February 2016.  

The full picture of how household goods movements to and through Europe will work in the future is yet to emerge.

Photos:  Top right; Toll procedures will only be granted to the Customs Authority in the Member State in which the goods will be put to use. Middle left; Jennifer Sloan.

Click here to see the next Editor's Pick