The Port of Hamburg has always been more complicated and time consuming for import clearances of personal effects and cars than Germany’s other major port, Bremerhaven. Now the authorities in Hamburg have made using the port even less attractive by introducing a so called Time Slot procedure for trucks using the port.
In practice, this means that all trucking companies now have to book a fixed time (within one hour) when their truck will arrive at the Hamburg terminal to drop off or to pick up a container.
With heavy traffic and delays on German roads, this narrow time slot is often unavoidably missed resuting in the drivers having to wait for many hours to drop off or pick up their shipments.
In addition, Hamburg customs officers sometimes decide at the last minute that an X-ray is needed for a selected import container, meaning the driver has to wait until the checks can be carried out before leaving the port.
As a result, truck drivers and port agents can no longer guarantee an acurate time of delivery for goods passing through the Port of Hamburg. These are early days for the new time slot system and things may well improve in the future. However, for the time being at least, using Bremerhaven for shipments to and from Germany seems the best option.
Information kindly supplied by Matthias Tischer, Carl Hartmann GmbH & Co Germany.