Ports across the UK have introduced so-called ‘customs clearance fees’ in an attempt to recoup lost revenues in border control posts as a result of delays to phytosanitary procedures.
Ports in London, Tilbury, Southampton and Teesport are charging customers new, additional fees that range from £17 to £25 per entry.
Moreover, Southampton and DP World have introduced a levy of £11 per removal, which one source described as an “insurance against cost of examinations,” according to a report in the B2B supply chain publication The Loadstar.
“In reality, it is a bulls**t money-making exercise, as there are no examinations, it’s probably aimed at recovering port development costs.”A source talking to Loadstar
“One client is paying eight to 12 times on a single container – having 30 a month, they’re paying £6,000 a month without ever having an examination,” the Loadstar quoted the source.
“It’s fair to charge one per box, but not one per entry. Smaller players with smaller loads are picking up the lion’s share of costs,” he reportedly said.
New fee schedule
Destin8, the port community system for London Container Terminal, Greenock, Seaforth and Teesport, has introduced a fee schedule that forces shippers to pay around £25.45 for a customs examination per entry.
Meanwhile, CNS, which operates the port community system for DP World London as well as DP World Southampton, is applying a fee of £18.74 for a customs examination per entry. It reportedly also applies removal fees.
However, the Loadstar wrote that sources suggest the percentage of shipments undergoing examinations is less than 1 per cent, with one even claiming that there was “not a single examination in the whole of 2021.”
Recouping lost revenues
The introduction of the new fees is a reportedly a response to the government’s decision, announced at the end of April , to scrap the implementation of phytosanitary controls in July.
Ports responded furiously as they had invested millions in developing and rollout border control check points in order to conduct detailed checks.
According to the report, Port of Liverpool spent around £4m on its new border control post.
As a result, there are a lot of questions within the industry as questions remain;
“We need to know what the government is going to do after it largely pulled the rug on a network of brand new, high-spec BCPs that look unlikely to be used and cost ports millions,” a source told Loadstar.A
“Ports will need to recover the BCP maintenance and skeleton operating costs somehow, so I wouldn’t be surprised if charges are passed on to traders or the shipping industry,” the source said.
“But remember, importers are still in a better position, not needing to pay around £1.2bn of annual fees had SPS checks come in,” he reportedly said.