CIPS News


Delays at the UK/EU border increase as new customs paperwork continues to cause problems

CIPS 24 February 2021

The survey of 350 UK supply chain managers found that 63% have experienced delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the UK, up from 38% in a similar survey in January this year.

  • 58% of businesses say that delays have become longer since the beginning of January
  • More than 60% of UK businesses importing or exporting goods through the UK/EU border have experienced delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the UK
  • The main driver of delays is the time taken for customs to work through the new paperwork

The situation at the UK/EU border is getting worse, research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has found. Over half (58%) of UK businesses say that delays have become longer since the beginning of January 2021 with 30% of this group reporting that delays are significantly longer than they were when the new border rules first came into effect at the beginning of the year.   

The survey of 350 UK supply chain managers* found that 63% have experienced delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the UK, up from 38% in a similar survey in January this year. The situation is only slightly better for exports, with 44% experiencing delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the EU.

By far the main driver of delays is the time it takes for customs to work through the new paperwork, with nearly half of businesses (47%) citing this as the main reason for the delays. Other customs issues such as a lack of capacity amongst customs staff and drivers being turned away for having the wrong paperwork were also cited by respondents.

The delays come despite the fact many new import certifications are still yet to come into force. The extra checks, which will impact a wide range of goods from sausages to live mussels, are due to be phased in from April.

Dr John Glen, CIPS Economist and Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, said:

“We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce as freight volumes returned to normal and customs systems became used to the new processes has not come to pass. What is even more concerning is that the delays are continuing to get longer, putting more and more pressure on the UK’s supply chains and affecting the timely delivery of much-needed goods.  

“The paperwork required at the border is not going to change anytime soon, so we should brace ourselves for these delays to continue for at least the next few months. New requirements for import certifications are also rapidly approaching and these will only add to the paperwork required, causing further delays for businesses. The knock-on impact of these delays will trickle far down the supply chain and ultimately result in stock shortages and inflated prices for consumers”.

About the survey 

These findings were drawn from a survey of 350 UK supply chain managers who have imported or exported through the UK-EU border since 1st January  2021. The survey ran from Friday 12th February to Thursday 18th February 2021.  

*All respondents are UK supply chain managers who have imported or exported through the UK/EU border since 1st January.

 

What do you think is causing delays at the border?

It is taking longer for customs to work through the new paperwork

47%

New Covid-19 protocols mean it is taking longer to get

through the border

9%

There are not enough customs staff to deal with the

volume of work

8%

We have had instances of drivers that have been turned

away at/before the border for not having the correct

paperwork

7%

Drivers turning back due to having the wrong paperwork are

creating confusion/disruption

5%

There are not enough customs brokers available

2%

The IT systems put in place at the border are not working

efficiently

1%

Not applicable, we have not experienced any delays

9%

Don't know

12%

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