A major parcel courier has paused some delivery services into the EU – including Ireland – because of pressure caused by new post-Brexit red tape.
DPD became the latest company to warn that Boris Johnson’s divorce settlement with Brussels had led to more complex processes at the border.
Marks & Spencer said today that the new rules and regulations are set to “significantly impact” its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France, while Debenhams has closed its Irish website due to complications of shipping to the EU from the UK and John Lewis has paused all international deliveries.
Hauliers have also described being “overwhelmed” by red tape due to new checks on deliveries to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
DPD said that up to 20% of parcels had incorrect or incomplete data, meaning they had to be returned to customers, and announced a pause to its road service into Europe and Ireland until Wednesday.
The company said in a statement: “The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement resulted in more complex processes, and additional customs data requirements for parcels destined for Europe.
“This, along with delays and congestion at UK ports for channel crossings, has placed extra pressure on our turnaround and transit times.
“We are seeing up to 20% of parcels with incorrect or incomplete data attached, resulting in these parcels needing to be returned to customers, so that the required data can be provided.
“In view of this unprecedented set of circumstances we believe that it is only right to pause and review our road service into Europe, including the Republic of Ireland. During this time, we will work with our customers to validate and correct the data we have in our system, to reduce the delays and enable us to resume normal service.
“This pause in our operation will be as short as possible and we intend to recommence this service on Wednesday 13 January.”
M&S boss Steve Rowe warned that the trade agreement between the UK and the EU is causing problems with “potential tariffs on part of our range exported to the EU, together with very complex administrative processes”.
Haulier industry body Logistics UK said deliveries were being delayed as lorries arrived in Belfast with incomplete paperwork.
In order to avoid a hard border with the Republic, Johnson agreed Northern Ireland would remain in the EU single market – but that has meant checks on goods arriving from Great Britain.
The issues largely centre around VAT and rules of origin. The free trade agreement only covers goods made in the EU and UK, so retailers shipping clothing made in China, for instance, are encountering problems. Also EU retailers need to apply for a UK VAT number and claim back that VAT when shipping items to UK consumers. A number of smaller etailers do not want the additional red tape or cost of doing so, so have stopped selling to UK consumers.
Some shoppers have reported problems with goods arriving from e-commerce sites in the EU that have been continuing to sell to UK consumers. Reports range from parcels being automatically sent back to retailers due to incorrect paperwork or couriers requesting large amounts of sales tax before delivering items.
Labour accused the Government of failing to properly prepare for the end of the transition period on 31 December.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “The Government promised it had a plan to make sure things ran smoothly for businesses and hauliers post-Brexit.
“It’s clear the problems caused by its poor preparation and delaying tactics have not gone away. Ministers have to get a grip on this and make sure essential workers are actually able to do their jobs, or we risk seeing a repeat of the chaos on our roads at Christmas.”