Logistics UK has warned that time is fast running out for international operators to become familiar with complex new paperwork and IT systems being introduced when the UK leaves the EU on January 1, 2021.

“With less than 150 days left to the UK’s EU departure, the time to take action is now," urged Logistics UK director of policy Elizabeth de Jong. "Operators must be ready to switch to new systems and new methods of trading if their businesses are to be protected.

“All importers and export traders will need to ensure they have import and export paperwork and systems ready, whatever the outcome of the political negotiations. These include applying for a GB Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number which is needed before any goods can be moved, and knowing the Commodity Code and customs value of the goods, which are all needed to make a customs declaration and calculate duties.

“In addition, hauliers will need to understand and be able to use at least eight new IT systems to make Roll-On Roll-Off trade move efficiently – there are four separate systems required by the UK government and one for each of Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. All will take time to install and learn and should not be left to the last minute.

“And there are many other areas which, while seemingly innocuous, could trip up the very best intentions of traders to maintain a seamless supply chain. Businesses need to ask themselves have they considered how they will make declarations to HMRC systems, and whether they will employ an agent.

"It is also important to consider whether they can, and would benefit from, using any available simplifications or deferred customs declarations for standard goods. All this takes time and needs to be factored into the planning process – leaving it to the last minute could be problematic at best."

de Jong advised any operators needing further help to go to the government website or refer to, Logistics UK's free webinars or its member advice centre.