Since the UK left the European Union, its trading relationship with much of Europe has changed. That is to be expected, of course, but it has created some new challenges in terms of organising shipments of freight to the continent, especially for SMEs. After all, numerous British export firms don’t deal with very large consignments of raw materials but only want to get a few palletised items from the British Isles to European clients. What do you need to know if you want to keep on trading with European customers without letting them down because of late or non-deliveries? Read on to find out.

French Ports Aren’t the Only Option

Unless you are talking about the Irish Republic, then the majority of goods leaving Britain for Europe will pass through the ports on the South Coast for northern France. Calais and Dunkirk are the busiest routes but remember that it is also possible to send vans and lorries via Dieppe, St Malo and Cherbourg, too. In addition, cargo can be shipped directly to Denmark, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. So, depending on where you want goods to end up, sending them on less busy routes may be better. There are six sailings from the UK to northern Spain you could opt for, too.

Not Everywhere in Europe Is in the EU

Although shipments that enter the EU’s customs union need to be declared, you might also need to fill out customs clearances if they leave it, as well. This is the case if you are shipping to Norway via Denmark, for example. Switzerland, Moldova, Andorra and Serbia all fall outside of the EU even if they follow similar rules.

Air Freight Isn’t Always Quickest

In many cases, air freighting goods seems to be quicker than using couriers. However, goods sometimes get delayed at airports, especially ones that are unused to handling cargo loads. In addition, you face the problem of sourcing a local courier firm so that they can continue their onward journey. Instead, it is often better to select an express freight service that makes use of the European road network.

HMRC Export Declaration Rules Will Change

According to Barrington Freight, a British company that deals with UK exports to the continent all the time, UK customs will require all exporters to use a new declaration system soon. The old online format is being phased out to cope with the increase in demand since firms had to start declaring goods for European exports. Registering and using the system will be mandatory for both importers and exporters although HMRC is allowing the old system to be used for a few months while people adjust to the new one.

Tracking Is Increasingly Important

The one thing that tends to put European customers off British suppliers is when they cannot plan for their order’s arrival. As such, being able to monitor the progress of your consignment and update your client(s) accordingly is really important nowadays. If you opt for a courier that doesn’t offer real-time tracking, then it is time to seek a freight forwarding firm that does.