Transvenlo Case Study I Post-Brexit
Join Jeffrey van der Lee as he shares how Customs Support’s position as a neutral, digital-first customs provider has been key for Transvenlo’s continued success across the EU/UK border since Brexit.
Tell us about Transvenlo
Transvenlo is a logistics company in Venlo, The Netherlands, which has been trading since 1979.
As the only Benelux member of the UK-based Palletforce network and a provider of distribution throughout the EU, we have a focus on road freight and organise several cross-channel groupage trailers every day.
Since Brexit, shippers using our service to cross the EU/UK border have been required to complete an export clearance on one side, and their consignees have been required to complete an import clearance on the other side.
It became a whole new world for us, because we suddenly had customs to consider for a large part of our service provision.
We were already working with Customs Support Netherlands for our international clearances, as we recognise the value of outsourcing this function to a neutral provider of customs whose services, IT structure, and knowledge of the complex industry fit our company’s needs.
To keep our EU/UK road freight service efficient and reduce the risk of delays, we decided to leverage this partnership with Customs Support and provide customs clearance for our groupage loads crossing between the EU and UK.
What’s the main challenge you faced when looking for help with post-Brexit customs?
For us, it was important that we partner with a company that isn’t going to be able to use the details of our business for their own aims. Many customs brokers are attached to freight providers, so we are careful when selecting businesses to partner with.
On the EU side, we were already using Customs Support in Venlo so we knew and trusted them. When it came to the UK side, we needed to find someone else as Customs Support did not yet have a complete presence there.
This is when we reached out to UK Customs Solutions, a neutral customs broker in the UK who has since been acquired by Customs Support. There were no plans for acquisition at the time, so we have been fortunate that it was our partner that was acquired and we still have long-term trusted contacts like Gary Harrold and Tom Edwards working with us today.
How did Customs Support help you?
Everything worked fantastically with the two brokers [Customs Support and UK Customs Solutions] on both sides of the border.
Even though the industry as a whole was learning with Brexit, we felt like both companies guided us very well in the build-up and during the first few hectic months. They were proactive with training webinars to help us understand what we needed to do, and we have always had short communication lines with Gary, Tom, Rick, and other key people for when we have needed help or guidance.
Our smooth transition into completing customs clearances alongside our transport really helped our customers maintain faith in what we were delivering. At the time, a lot of road freight companies were experiencing complications with customs, what resulted in backlogs.
Traders were getting impatient and switching road freight providers because of problems, so we continued to grow our volumes and could do so with confidence as our customs partners knew what they were doing and kept us moving.
As we got better at the processes, we started doing pre-lodgements for all of our vehicles to improve our efficiency – even for our groupage loads. This was before the introduction of the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, so we were in the habit of pre-lodging before this came into effect.
We felt like everything was running really efficiently, but then UK Customs Solutions joined Customs Support and they surprised us with digital-end-to-end customs clearances.
Now, we send one instruction to Customs Support and they send us back both the export and import declarations at the same time. It’s another level of efficiency and it keeps things really easy for us.
Have you been able to take advantage of any other digital solutions?
One of the headaches that we have had with Brexit customs clearances is finding the right person to sign paperwork, and for them to return it to us on time.
Imagine we have a shipment for a new customer and we are trying to get their power of attorney, but the authorised person is away and unable to print, sign and scan the needed documentation.
Sometimes we could be waiting two weeks for their signature but, for us to remain compliant, we cannot clear the goods without getting this authorisation. It can be frustrating for traders to wait, but we have to respect that compliance is a priority for long-term supply chain health.
Customs Support have provided us with a gamechanger that addresses this issue: the online client portal. As well as being able to see all of our clearances, we can also digitalise the power of attorney process so that our clients can complete their authorisation with a few clicks.
It’s such an excellent feature for us to have as it makes it so easy for everyone involved.
Overall, what are the key benefits you’ve had from working with Customs Support?
We are incredibly happy with how Customs Support have worked with us on both sides of the border, both as separate companies with UK Customs Solutions and under the same umbrella.
Some of the main takeaways for us from this partnership are:
Dual customs clearances
One email, two clearances, no hassle. We send a single instruction to Customs Support and they get us back everything for that movement on time. It’s simple and easy to manage.
Customs Support provide us with fast and accurate end-to-end clearances because of their EDI integrations and advanced data mapping, but this isn’t everything we’ve seen.
The client portal, including the power of attorney function, is something that we have been able to test with them first hand and use after launch. Their digital-first approach isn’t just about what they can do; it’s customer-centric in that the aim is to provide high-quality value to us as their clients.
We know they have more digital solutions in the pipeline as well.
Trusted guidance during times of change
Although Customs Support has grown through acquisition, it’s clear that their new members are chosen for their values as well as their expertise.
Both Customs Support Netherlands and UK Customs Solutions provided expert advice on Brexit before and after the transition date, and it made the difference to our business. Whilst other transport companies were stumbling, we were able to take it in our stride.
As other changes develop in the customs world, we know we can rely on Customs Support to provide us with expert and proactive guidance so that we continue to take them in our stride.
A personal touch
One of the things we appreciate about our collaboration with Customs Support is that although they are pushing their automation and their digitalisation of processes, we still have short connection lines with them and it is a very personal service for us.
How do you see your partnership with Customs Support growing?
We specialise in providing road freight and pallet distribution across the EU and UK, but that’s not all that we do. As a freight forwarder, we often have different enquiries and – as we have seen with Brexit and the ongoing sanctions with Russia – supply chains can change very rapidly.
It’s good for us to know that Customs Support is there to work with us when we need to adapt or do something different, and we have complete faith in the advice and solutions they propose.
A neutral provider of customs services across the EU and the UK, with more than 1500 declarants united across more than 13 countries. We provide you with local expertise, modern digital solutions, and a personal service, wherever in Europe you need us. Contact us for more information.