DFDS prevails through Brexit transition

The UK has left the EU. It means new processes and more paperwork for DFDS and its freight customers working between the UK and EU.

Despite years of preparation, the post-Brexit period caused challenges and delaysExtensive form filling, extra inspections and other needs were impossible to foresee.   

A range of factors including confusion over paperwork were responsible.  

Easier customs processes

This is now becoming manageable. DFDS can offer clearance services that provide a much easier customs process.    

Eddie Green is the head of DFDS’s cold chain business unit. “From across England and Scotland, we transport seafood to UK ports, and then on to the continent. Brexit challenges caused long delays in the shipment of fresh fish that started in early January. These challenges included the requirements for health certificates, customs documentation, and introduction of new IT systems.

More staff

The IT systems are now workable. We have trained more staff to help customers with correct customs declarations. 

“Brexit is challenging and needed a lot preparation last year. There will be another challenging period in July when Border controls are fully implemented for goods entering the UK. But we’ll keep our customers goods moving by working with them and the authorities.”  

Stock building ahead of Brexit boosted DFDS. We still have to see how Brexit will impact freight volumes on the North Sea routes to the UK. 

Media interest in Brexit grows   

VP and Head of BU Channel Filip Hermann interviewed by Danish public TV in Dover, 12 December 

Sunday was the official deadline for a post-Brexit trade agreement between the UK and EU. No deal was made, and negotiations continue. Time is running out and the media is growing increasingly interested in how affected companies intend to deal with the onslaught of new rules, regulations and customs processes that are the consequence of the UK no longer being part of the EU.

Sunday was the official deadline for the EU and UK reaching an agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal. Even though negotiations still continue, the transition period runs out on 31 December, whether or not a trade deal with the EU is made in the next 16 days. 

This is causing companies to build stocks and media to report about it to an extent we havent seen before. In addition to previous interviews with Morgan Olausson in Gothenburg and Chris Parker and Andrew Byrne in the UK, Torben Carlsen was recently interviewed by Danish TV2 Business and national newspapers in Denmark. Head of Central Customer and Operational Services UK & NL Lucien Stötefalk has been featured in Dutch national media and Head of our BU Channel Filip Hermann was on the Sunday evening news and radio in Denmark, to name a few. 


Stockpiling’s a fact 

The media is showing a particular interest in Dover because it is where most imported goods move into the UK. It’s a Brexit crunch point and delays or interruptions have vast consequences. 1,2 million trucks travel via Dover on our ships every year and export and import companies are currently stockpiling goods in fear of the import duties and delivery delays that will follow a no-deal Brexit scenario. At DFDS, we have been preparing for a worst-case scenario since 2016 – that there won’t be a trade deal – and are as ready as we can be to help customers keep their goods flowing also after 1 January. We expect an even greater media interest in the next few weeks. 


DR, Danish public TV (link only works in DK)  

Shows the intense lorry traffic in Dover right now, just a couple of weeks before the end of the transition period.  

DFDS’ Filip Hermann on customers stockpiling ahead of Brexit, at 04:44 


P4, Danish public radio (link only works in DK) 

DFDS’ Filip Hermann on Brexit at 08:58  

Larkhall: better service

Larkhall handles thousands of consignments for the Scottish seafood industry every year. They’re the UK’s main carrier of seafood to the continent and have contracts with all the big salmon exporters, as well as many smaller ones. With the consequences of Brexit kicking in on 1 January – mandatory import and export declarations, as well as health certificates for seafood – the Larkhall team decided to come up with solution that helps customers cut customs-related costs and keep their goods flowing: making Larkhall a one-stop shop for health certifications, at a competitive price.

“The initial system for anyone exporting seafood from the UK to the continent post-Brexit was to get a veterinarian or environmental health officer to inspect the goods and sign an Export Health Certificate locally at the production sites. These sites are scattered all over Scotland and a health certificate for just one consignment costs about 80 pounds,” says Head of DFDS Scotland and Northern Ireland Steve MacaulayNow that these health certificates will be required for all seafood consignments leaving the UK as of 1 Januarywe needed to come up with a solution which simplified the process, at a price that was manageable for all our customersregardless of their size,” he says. 


Health certification hub simplifies Brexit procedures for seafood customers 

Could we have the health certification process done in Larkhall, where seafood is consolidated prior to being dispatched to the continent? This idea was born two years ago and brought to fruition by the Larkhall cold chain team. “We wanted to simplify and streamline the certification process for our customers. Not only are these certifications difficult to get hold of, due to the lack of Scottish environmental health officers. For our smaller customers, attaining them would also come at a price that could put them off exporting seafood altogether, and we would lose their business,” Larkhall Export Operations Manager David Cranston says. 

“We have had long and productive talks with cabinet ministers, the Scottish government and Food Standards Scotland and can now finally offer our customers a one-stop shop for health certifications. There are two benefits for customers choosing this option. One is that we have environmental health officials onsite who perform the certification at the seafood’s point of departure as of 1 January. The second is that we’ve managed to come to an agreement with the government that means that rather having to produce one certificate per consignment – a load can consist of 15 to 30 consignments, at 80 pounds per document – the requirement is now a maximum of two health certificates per load, one per product type,” Steve says. 


First depot with this status 

Costs for customers are reduced 4 or 5 times by us moving to this new scenario where Larkhall is a health certification hub, David says. “All our customers benefit from the new arrangementIt means they can continue to send small consignments and simply pay a rate per kilo. The reduced number of certificates also simplifies procedures on the receiving end, as there will be less paperwork for customs officials to process.” 

Larkhall is the first depot in the UK to be named a health certification hub, and it’s the result of a great collaboration inside DFDS and externally with government bodies. “We’ve worked hard to get here and now we can finally say that we have an optimal setup in place to keep moving all our customers goods, at a competitive rate,” David says. 


Brexit video: we are ready to help our customers

Just a few days to go now before we find out if the EU and UK can agree on a post-Brexit trade deal. In this video from Esbjerg by Danish Shipping, DFDS Senior Vice President Kell Robdrup and the Danish Customs Agency explain how we’re prepared to help importers and exporters, deal or new deal, for the new rules we know will kick in on January 1.

Go to video

Follow Danish Shipping on LinkedIn

Help customers get ready

24 days until the new trade rules between the UK and the EU kick in. We’re hosting a series of webinars this week to help customers get ready:


Customs processes via Belgian ports

Time: December 9, 10:00 – 11:00 CET

Language: English

End of transition period and Belgian implementation of border controls



Customs processes via Dutch ports

Time: December 10, 10:00 – 11:00 CET

Language: English

End of transition period and Dutch implementation of border controls



Customs processes via Cuxhaven port

Time: December 11, 09:00 – 10.00 CET

Language: German

Exporting from CuxPort to the UK and Importing into CuxPort from the UK



Customs processes via Cuxhaven port

Time: December 11, 11:00 – 12:00 CET

Language: English

Exporting from CuxPort to the UK and Importing into CuxPort from the UK


How will Brexit affect your business?

Time: December 9, 9:00- 10:00 CET

Language: Turkish

  • DFDS preparations on R&D and marketing
  • Negotiations between Turkey & UK regarding Free Trade Agreement and Customs Union
  • Pros and cons of Brexit for Turkey
  • Ongoing discussions on customs legislation and UK-TR trade


All Brexit webinars 

Brexit: Chris Parker explains

The end of the transition period is near – terribly near – and the public is struggling to understand what it will mean for them and trade.

It isn’t easy to explain what will happen, but few are doing as good a job at it as our very own Chris Parker from Dover.

Use the links to interviews from Tuesday this week on Radio Kent and Friday morning on BBC Sussex – most of us will learn from it.

Interview on Radio Kent.

Interview on BBC Sussex.

When in doubt, ask customers

Technology & Innovation asked customers why they weren’t using MyFreight, our only Brexit-compliant freight booking tool. We used their answers to improve the tool and help customers transition in time for the new year.

MyFreight is our only Brexit-compliant booking tool for freight customers. But something was stopping customers from using it.  

To avoid messy bookings, delays and frustration after 31 December 2020, we had to figure out how to move customers to MyFreight from the two old and unmaintained booking systems InfoBridge and Phoenix Web, as quickly as possible. 

Ask them why they haven’t moved yet 

The Ferry and Terminals Tribe in Technology & Innovation did a feature comparison, an online survey and interviews with customers and colleagues from Brexit-affected business units to gain insights on user satisfaction for MyFreight compared to the old booking tools. They wanted to find out what was keeping customers from making the switch. It turns out it was largely a case of old habits dying hard and that they missed a few features: 

“There wasn’t a huge difference when we looked at customer satisfaction ratings with the old platform versus the new one,” says UX/UI Designer Anika Mitteregger. “Based on what we learned from talking to customers we were able to pinpoint what we could do to assist them with the move. We’ll shortly be introducing new requested features in MyFreight, where customers can see all bookings in one view and get multiple booking confirmations in a single email. The tool will also include an improved user guide and FAQ. 

The big picture 

“In the bigger picture, it’s important to have our customers on the same platform. Not only is it easier and cheaper for us to support and develop, it also means that we know that we offer customers the same service. And for customers, it means that they can always be sure that they get digital service that is state of the art and compliant,” says Ferry and Terminals Tribe Lead Jonas Als.  

He continues: “This is a great example of how quickly and professionally we can improve and make a tool even more attractive when customers, T&I and local customer service all stick their heads together.  

Spotting opportunities
Out of this collaboration came aopportunity: We developed an ENS feature (a mandatory Export from UK to EU declaration), adding a new revenue stream to DFDS. This feature also helps drivers avoid showing up in the port of Dover without ENS clearance, risking being held back by Customs and a potential fine. This all contributes to making MyFreight more attractive to customers. However, we’ve not reached the final goal yet of getting all Brexit-affected freight customers to use MyFreight. Our colleagues in the local offices are helping remaining customermake the switch, to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible,” Jonas says. 

Go to MyFreight user guide 

Customers flocked to Brexit webinar 

DFDS webinar on new UK border rules drew 400 people. The format works well, helps us get in dialogue with customers and helps us pinpoint what kind of information they need from us.

Last week, B2B Marketing and the Immingham office hosted a webinar on the new UK border control rules. Andrew Byrne, Managing Director in Immingham, Richard Ballantynea Chief Executive at British Ports Association, and our Border Compliance Director Emma Leam-Saville shared insights and recommendations on what customers need to do to keep their goods moving to and from the UK. 

“It’s clear there’s a need out there to have someone take the customer’s hand and guide them through the jungle of new rules, documents and processes. Almost 500 people signed up and 400 attended, which is way beyond what we dared hope for when we planned it,” says Head of B2B marketing Kenneth Tange 

The first 20 questions popped up before the hour-long webinar even started, and they just kept coming throughout. Not just is the webinar a format that works well in these virtual times, it’s also a great way for us to get a real dialogue going with customers and qualify what kind of information we provide them with, Kenneth says. 

Andrew Byrne agrees: “The questions that came up show that a lot of customers still have a long way to go before they’re prepared for what’s coming. The feedback after the webinar has been very positive, and we might do another one soon as there quite simply wasn’t enough time to answer the participants’ many and diverse questionsespecially the very technical ones. There’s a lot of talk of Brexit fatigue, but I think that’s due to people not knowing what to do, because of the lack of clarity of the future arrangements. There are still unknowns in all this, but the fact is that we’re as prepared as we can be and can help customers prepare, and that was a message that went across well in the webinar. After all, we’re all in this together.” 

Go to 12 November Brexit recording 

We will be launching more webinars across both Logistic and Ferry division to help our customers get through the transition. We will publish these on The Bridge and on social media.  

Do you have any questions about Brexit 

Please comment below. 

What Brexit means for passengers

Customers can now find up-to-date guidance on travelling to and from the UK after 31 December. Web, email, blog and FAQs updated.

With the transition period for the UK leaving the EU coming to an end on 31 December, it is important to communicate to our customers the impact this will have on travel.

“The end of the transition period of the UK leaving the EU will change certain elements of travel for our passengers. It is our responsibility to clearly communicate this and reassure our customers that they can still book with confidence with DFDS. These changes were implemented efficiently and effectively across all locales for both UK-EU and EU-UK travel and I’m proud of the way our agile teams worked alongside our customer care teams to implement this,” said Campaign Manager, Jacques Webb, who led Passenger Marketing’s update of all customer touchpoints with key information about travel post-Brexit.

  • Our Brexit FAQs page has been extensively updated with the latest government guidance, with a link to the official government pages for more detail.
  • All pages referring to Brexit updated. Customers can now find up-to-date guidance on pet travel, insurance, driving in the EU and more.
  • We have shared a blog post with customers social media channels, with overview of the key changes to travel once the transition period is over. We will keep informing customers about this on social media until early 2021.
  • Our customer emails now include secondary messages as standard, informing

about the key changes to travel and linking to our Brexit FAQs page. We have also emailed customers with pets, with guidance on checks and certificates needed for pet travel for 2021 onwards.

These important updates have been implemented across every locale to ensure all customers receive the latest guidance on travel in 2021 and beyond. We will continue to keep our customers informed of key changes to travel to and from the UK.

The Channel is ready for Brexit

“We now know that we can move goods from the UK into the continent, end to end from Dover to Calais. This week’s internal test of all Channel processes, signage and infrastructure proved that we have all the necessary systems in place, and we know how to operate them,” says Vice President and Head of DFDS’ BU Channel Filip Hermann.“ 

Practicing, step by step 

At the check-in booth in the UK portwe scan customer documents and share these digitally with the French customs authorities. 

When the French customs authorities notice trucks that require a customs check upon entering France– for instance ones carrying phytosanitary sanitary goods like live animals, plants and animal products – these trucks get an orange dot in our system. On board, we show a list of the trucks customs status: 

If the trucks get a green dot, no checks are needed 

Trucks with orange dots need to follow the signage to parking lots when they leave the vessel, where their documents and goods are checked. 

It works and it has to 

The test showed that if customers have their documents in order, and their goods aren’t phytosanitary, things shouldn’t take much longer than they do todayWe have put immense efforts into getting every step of this new process tried and tested. Every week, around 30,000 freight units cross the Channel with us, and a vessel’s delay can clog up the entire system and create negative ripple effects for the DFDS staff and customers alike,” Filip says.  

I can assure our customers and staff that DFDS is ready. It’s important for customers to know that ithey don’t have their papers in order, we quite simply can’t ship for them. But if they need help with Customs, we can assist with that,” Filip says. 

Counting down 

Personally, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this final testing, Filip says. One team cannot do this alone. The test succeeded because of the wellorchestrated collaboration between all parties. So many parts of DFDS deserve credit for making our new processes on the Channel work and I’m impressed with how my colleagues deal with all the challenges thrown at them – not just related to Brexit, but also Covid-19. It’s true that when we see a problem in DFDS, we fix it, and this testing and the strong process we now have in place just goes to prove that.” 


Thank you, Eastern Channel test team: 

IT in Copenhagen, Dover and Immingham: 

  • Attila Gulyas 
  • Alex Hoyle 
  • Bent Christensen 
  • Billy Burman 
  • Daniel Capes 
  • Liam Richardson 

DFDS in Dover: 

  • Gary Whitling 
  • Helene Hivart 
  • Bradley Ellison 
  • Laura Charlton 
  • Louis Stroud 
  • Adam McCarthy 

Onboard crew 

  • Crew of Cote de Flanders  

DFDS in France: 

  • Hubert Saussereau 
  • Stephanie Thomas 
  • Clarisse Castel 
  • Caroline Hayat 
  • Melanie Marchand
  • Bertrand Demester
  • Vanessa Pereira
  • Catherine Vandevyvere

Go to DFDS pages on Brexit 



“Keep your business moving”

Marketing launches campaign to let customers know that wherever they are in their Brexit preparations, DFDS can help keep their business moving.

“Customers need to know that DFDS is prepared for Brexit and and ready to help them,” says Kenneth TangeHead of B2B Marketing at DFDS. “We are now launching a campaign to inform customers about how we can keep their business moving in and out of the UK when the new trade rules kick in on 1 January 2021. We are ready for whatever is coming.” 


Tools for you 

On Brand Central, you can find a PowerPoint detailing what we can offer customers, as well as images and email banners. We have also updated the website with Ferry– and Logistics-relevant Brexit information, highlighting the fact that we are digitally ready, too, with the tools My Freight and DFDS Direct for customers to easily manage their bookings. There’s also a Social Media post you can share if you like here 

We will shortly be sending out a questionnaire to Logistics customers, asking them about preparations and what they need, to better assess where we can set in to give them the best possible support. And for Ferry customers, we’re hosting a webinar on customs and border control in the EU on 12 November, featuring CEO of the British Ports Association Richard BallantyneManaging Director Immingham Andrew Byrne and and our resident Brexit expert Emma Leam-Saville 


Here to help 

We want to bring DFDS and customers even closer together in this tricky transition period where we get used to the UK no longer being part of the EU, says Jenny Allert, Head of the Regional Marketing Hubs. If anyone in DFDS needs assistance with local marketing matters, they’re very welcome to get in touch with us The Hubs are cross-divisional and can help with anything that has to do with getting sales and marketing material produced and across to customers. Right now, we’re working on two regional Brexit newsletters – one with Ferry-related content and another for Logistics – to be sent out shortly.   

The Marketing Hubs team consists of Julie Kromann Grundtvig who covers the Continent, Krupa Patel for the UK and Ireland, Gizem Sen for the Mediterranean, Vaidas Klumbys for the Baltics and Jenny Allert for the Nordics. 

Go to Brexit Campaign on Brand Central 

New AEOF certification for DFDS

In Spring 2019 a working group was formed to prepare the AEOF application for DFDS Logistics Karlshamn AB and DFDS Logistics AB. Sofie Fredrikson, Mats Rodin and Bodil Johansson were the core membersAt the end of October they submitted their application and the next step in the journey towards AEOF was taken.   

Sofie Fredrikson, Mats Rodin and Bodil Johansson 

Authorized Economic Operator –Full (AEOF) certification is the highest level achievable and comprises customs simplifications and security. This status is recognised throughout the European Union and is extremely valuable. It means that you are a trusted partner for the authorities and it eases the cooperation and customs processes so we can better assist our customers with customs services.  

During the year, many of our colleagues all over DFDS and external suppliers have been involved in various ways to help achieve this important status. 

Getting the AEOF stamp of approval is no easy feat, as described in last week’s article ‘Brexit: what’s in place. The journey has been challenging in many ways but on 7 October the message from the Swedish Customs Authority came with the fantastic news that DFDS Logistics Karlshamn AB and DFDS Logistics AB are now confirmed as AEOF authorised, as of 12 October.   

Brexit: what’s in place

Come 1 January, cargo moving between the UK and the EU will have to undergo Customs formalities and border control. At DFDS, we’ve been planning for these consequences of Brexit for years. Here’s an overview of the people, systems and processes we have in place to help customers with their Customs needs. It’s long, but that’s because we’re doing a lot. More information to come on the different areas listed below.

The UK has left the EU, and come 1 January, cargo moving between the UK and the EU will have to undergo Customs formalities and border control. At DFDS, we’ve been planning this transition for years and have the people, systems and processes in place to help worried customers with their Customs needs, easing their transition into a world of trade where the UK has its own set of rules.

“Brexit has consequences for anyone trading with the UK. Since 2016, we have worked with tax authorities, governments, customers and partners to assess what needs to be done for business still to flow freely,” says Group Indirect Tax Manager Jean Aubert.


“If we close our eyes, it might not happen”

“We’ve yet to meet a customer who is 100% compliant when it comes to all these new Customs rules,” says UK & Ireland Import Full Loads Route Manager Richard Backhouse. We can see that larger customers generally know about the new Customs requirements and have put systems in place to handle them, whereas many other customers are unprepared and even unaware of the magnitude of the changes taking place. Whether they are smaller businesses or big companies with complex supply chains, we always find that we can do something to help them navigate the jungle of Customs terms and paperwork in the wake of Brexit,” Richard says.


Brexit is local

Customer needs are often location-specific. In Grimsby and Larkhall, seafood is one of the main types of goods shipped and stored. This requires a catch certificate for fish – which is seldom relevant in other locations. Timelines also vary from place to place: in Immingham, you might have two days to prepare for goods arriving, while in Dover you’re lucky if it’s more than an hour. This means that all our local teams need to understand the local processes and legal requirements that differ from country to country, to prepare for their situation, types of customers, goods and flows.


Practicing and testing customers’ setups

Every day, our local Customs people reach out to customers to let them know how we can help them, both on an individual level, through calls, surveys and newsletters. Customers receive a steady flow of Brexit-related materials, but what they really appreciate is our one-to-one approach where we check their Brexit readiness and help break down the jargon and look at the requirements specific to their business and supply chains. A first step is doing legal checks, as the terms and conditions under which they sell their products impact their duty obligations. Also, do they have the necessary registrations and are they hooked up to the relevant digital systems? We test customers’ current setup and offer them a complete process for declaration​ and Customs Brokerage services. The message is simple: if customers are worried about their Customs processes, we’ll take care of it for them.

“We also ask customers to provide us with all their current commercial documents so we can get them into the system and show them how it will work after 31 December,” Richard says. “By doing this, we both help prepare the customers and our own team for the standards to come. We are helping make their paperwork compliant and training our staff at the same time.”


Developing Customs expertise

We have a strong Brexit organisation assisting customers with Customs processes and general advice across out network, and a dedicated customs and compliance department within the Financial Services Centre in Poznan. They all have their work cut out for them. Like in Immingham: until now, 5% of our customers have needed Customs declarations and assistance, for business with Norway. In just a few months, that number will be 100%.

“We are training our Customs staff on local rules and regulations, about specific customer needs, and also how to deal with multi-route customers. DFDS is strong on Customs processes and we need to make sure that we help our colleagues to develop the specific skills that they need in their locations,” says Sofie Fredrikson, Customs Manager Sweden. ”We have prepared by doing tests and preparations that are as close to real situations as possible, by using real customers as cases. There are of course still uncertainties, since there is not an official agreement between the UK and EU.

I am proud of being a part of our fantastic Customs team in Sweden.” Sofie says.

Fighting spirit: all of the members of the Swedish Customs team have one


DFDS as a Customs Broker       

Many DFDS entities are certified as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). AEO accreditation is extremely valuable because it means that we have much easier Customs processes. It reduces the guarantee amounts we need to provide and reduces or removes the security controls of processes and systems. “We commit to transparency in our organisation and processes and in exchange the authorities grant us simpler procedures to follow,” Jean Aubert says.

“Getting this AEO stamp of approval is no easy feat. We must demonstrate our knowledge of several Customs activities –  broker, transit operator, warehousing – as well as our security preparedness for several sites. But it’s worth it – it shows our customers we are a certified partner in the field of Customs. It means that they can trust us and that we can help them with everything from simple import and export declarations to acting as a Customs Broker, where companies give us power of attorney to do all their Customs work for them,” Jean says.

But who’s the customer in a B2B world?  “In Logistics, the importer or exporter is the customer to receive our services. In Ferry the customer is the logistics company, and we can act as a Customs Broker for their customer, the importers or exporters. In this case it will be our customers’ customers who actually get our services,” says Legal Counsel, Indirect taxes, Stephanie Thomas.

“But regardless of who the customer is, it is vital that they sign a representation agreement giving us power of attorney before we start working for them. Operating without one would not only be illegal but would also financially expose DFDS. And once this agreement is in place, customers provide us with commercial invoices and packing lists, description of the cargo and other information. To practice our set up, we give them a simulated declaration to show them what kinds of documents they will receive from us in January,” Stephanie says.

“We have a clear benefit by being onsite. A lot of customers see this, and our Customs services are in high demand. Our approach is not to aggressively push these services to customers. If they do it themselves, or choose another broker, that’s fine by us. As long as their papers are in order, they can keep moving their goods through us and their business remains,” Jean says.



Brexit is digital, too

Each country trading  with the UK has a different government process and they’re all electronic, with local governance dictating the processes. On our end, we are building links between the customers’ IT systems and our own to automate the communication with Customs in each country, make the process as fluid and efficient as possible and ease the weight load on our Customs Service Representatives.

Right now, the many digital connections into local Customs tools cause process variance and complicated maintenance. Also, the digital system for the final UK Border Operating Model is still not ready and a lot of companies are looking to build tech integrations into it, leaving them with under two months to get everything ready. When testing, we try to get as close to the 2021 situation as we can, but we are testing in digital systems that still consider the UK an EU country until 31 December. We are dealing with this by inserting Canada or Australia as a test country.


Expect border inspection

Border Inspection Points (BIP) are European Union-approved entry points for products of plant and/or animal origin, originating in countries outside the EU/EEA. These products must undergo certain Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) checks conducted by veterinary authorities and this will often take place in the ports. In locations that already deal with non-EU countries, BIPs are in place and are ready, like in Rotterdam where they have deep sea container flows. “For DFDS right now, this is mainly a challenge on the Channel, due to the high volumes of time-sensitive foods,” Jean says.

“Everything that can be done on our end in terms of staff, systems and processes is being done.” Jean says. January and February 2021 will be the real period of education. That’s when customers will see if they’re prepared and we are sure that they will be quick to learn. For now, all we can do is talk to them, show them what needs to be done and inform them of how we can be of assistance via individual guidance, direct contact and a variety of digital channels like newsletters, Social Media and press releases.”

Go to DFDS pages on Brexit




  • AEO = Authorised Economic Operator*
  • ATA Carnet = Allows tax-free and duty-free temporary export/import of non-perishable goods e.g. for the use in exhibitions​
  • ENS = Entry Summary Notification (mandatory when entering first EU country)​
  • EORI number = Economic Operators Registration and Identification number​
  • EXS = Exit Summary Notification (mandatory when leaving EU)​
  • GMR = Goods Movement Reference​
  • MRN number = Movement Reference Number (generated when Customs declaration is submitted) ​
  • SPS certificate = Sanitary and Phytosanitary certificate (Certifies that goods are compliant with the phytosanitary regulations of the EU. Required when importing animal and plant products, must be obtained in exporting country)​
  • TAD = Transit Accompanying Document


*The AEO status is achieved on the basis of legal entities, and the following have been granted it:

  • DFDS A/S (Denmark)
  • DFDS Logistics Limited (the UK)
  • DFDS Logistics B.V (The Netherlands)
  • DFDS Germany ApS & KG (Germany, only AEO Customs simplification)
  • DFDS Seaways (Belgium)
  • DFDS Logistics Karlshamn (Sweden)
  • DFDS Logistics Gothenburg AB (Sweden)
  • The Gothenburg Ro-Ro terminal

The UK has left the EU

Dfds.com updated with new information on UK trade rules following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The UK has left the EU, with the transition period ending 31 December, 2020. After this date, cargo moving between the UK and the EU will have to undergo customs formalities and border control.

“Brexit hasn’t gotten a lot of public attention lately due to the summer and the Covid-19 crisis. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been preparing. In all affected offices and central departments teams have worked hard to consider all details, map new processes and have in-depth dialogues with customers and local authorities to ensure that we can continue to be an important link in the European supply chain, also after January 1, 2021,” says Peder Gellert, EVP of the Ferry Division.

“This work also includes thinking customs formalities into our processes and systems like Logistics’ DFDS Direct, Ferry’s My Freight solution, hiring experts so we can give our customers the right support, reviewing finance and reporting structures, updating a number of our crucial IT systems and building new tech integrations to customers and authorities. This work is ongoing and continues,” says Niklas Andersson, EVP of the Logistics Division.


All UK importers and exporters must prepare

While we have come a long way in our preparations, many customers have not been able to do the same yet. And no matter how well we prepare, port traffic will still be disrupted if too many transports arrive at check-in without the necessary documentation. That is why informing our customers about their need to prepare and how we can support them is vital to ensuring as smooth a transition as possible.


Work in progress

With ten routes in and out of the UK, DFDS can and will feel the consequences of Brexit on a daily basis. There are still questions to be answered, particularly in the UK.  ”We have worked steadily on this since 2016 and the hard work continues in every area. It will continue to involve and affect a lot of people in our company,” says Route Agency and Border Compliance Director Emma Leam-Saville. “We are in close dialogue with the UK government to make sure we always have and are able to act on the latest information and political developments.”

Jens Antonsen, VP, Logistics, says: “There are still some unknowns and our new EU/UK customs pages are work in progress. We have gone into as much detail possible, based on the information we have. We will update the pages regularly based on your questions, feedback and as the situation develops. Also, with the support of Group Indirect Tax Manager Jean Aubert, we are training local teams to be able to assist customers with their customs formalities. This includes hiring local customs experts in addition to the experts hired centrally in DFDS Polska.”


Getting ready

Emma and Jens work with Communications on preparing DFDS for the end of the transition. DFDS.com is now updated with the latest information on how to trade in and through the UK after 1 January, 2021. We have translated the rules and preparations into Q&As, checklists and useful links. Over the next few months, we will follow up with initiatives aimed at providing you with all the information you and our customers need to do business with the UK in 2021.

Go to UK Border Control pages


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Politics, Brexit: DFDS promotes our interests

Xavier Bertrand, the President of the French Hauts-de-France region was in Copenhagen to meet representatives of Danish business. Labour market and politics, among them Peder Gellert who had a fruitful discussion with him about the situation in Calais after Brexit

DFDS continues its work to protect our Brexit interests among decision makers in the UK and the EU to ensure that we get the attention and support of politics authorities and trade associations that can potentially influence future trade conditions.

At a meeting in the British Chamber of Commerce in Copenhagen, Peder Gellert, Head of the Ferry Division, presented our expectations and wishes for a continued free flow of goods across borders and informed about our own work to prepare for a new order of things after the end of the current transition period.

“I think that our situation gives embassies, politicians and authorities working with this a very concrete view into the conditions that affect trade, and my presentation was followed by a very lively debate that revealed understanding for the difficulties that trade could be facing. I think we need to keep pushing for good solutions and hope they will find their way into the final negotiations,” Peder says.

Meeting Xavier Bertrand
Brexit was also on the agenda at a dinner arranged by the Danish-French trade association in Copenhagen on 17 February. The association had invited Xavier Bertrand, President of the region Hauts-de-France and former minister in various French governments as main speaker at the conference.

“Focus was very much on Danish-French connections, and as we are a Danish owned company, I had a fruitful discussion with Mr. Bertrand about Brexit during dinner about how it can affect our Channel services and the region, and especially on how the region can support us in our work to ensure that conditions are in place for as barrier free trade as possible. Among other things, we discussed locations of Border Inspection Points and the general cooperation with the local and regional authorities. Considering the effects, it may have on Haute-de-France, we certainly have the attention of the President,” says Peder Gellert.

Peder Gellert at the dinner arranged by the Danish-French trade association in Copenhagen on 17 February

Brexit: No changes to DFDS in 2020

Torben Carlsen

When today, 31 January ends, the UK will no longer be member of the EU.
This is sad for many of us. However, there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, during which the UK will follow EU rules. Therefore, there will be no changes to trade during 2020. At DFDS, we will continue working as usual for the rest of the year.

Preparations continue
We do not know what will happen when the transition period ends.

During the transition period, the EU and the UK will negotiate a trade agreement. Hopefully they will reach an agreement that will allow free trade and free flow of goods to continue.
However, we have no guarantee that this will be the case and therefore, we will continue to prepare for the customs procedures that we risk seeing from the beginning of 2021.

We have come far in our preparations, and we have achieved the important Authorised Economic Operator certification in nearly all relevant locations. We will now continue fine-tuning our IT systems and hire and train customs experts so we can offer customs services to our clients. Most importantly, we will continue our work to inform and assist those customers who have not yet had a chance to prepare.

Transition period can be extended
The UK government has until July to ask for an extension of the transition period. However, we do not assume this and plan to be ready for customs control from 1 January 2021.

The UK does not leave DFDS
DFDS will be the same after Brexit. The UK will continue to be a major part of our network as it has been since 1866, and our UK colleagues will be as integrated in the DFDS organisation as they are today.

There is no reason to deny that it has been a frustrating process, and that it is unsatisfactory that the uncertainty about the future continues until we have a trade deal or the transit period ends without one. But I am proud of the way you are handling the Brexit preparations and of your commitment to make the best of it for DFDS. I also have great confidence in the UK’s ability to regain growth when there is again certainty about the future. Therefore, I sleep well in spite of seeing our dear friends in the UK leaving the EU.

Torben Carlsen

French local officials visit Dieppe

The President of the Seine Maritime Department met Jean-Claude Charlo, Head of DFDS’ French organisation, and our other colleagues to discuss the route and Brexit.


On 14 January the President of the Seine Maritime Department, Bertrand Bellanger, visited our French colleagues in Dieppe. Jean-Claude Charlo, Head of DFDS’ French organisation, gave him a tour of our terminal, DFDS offices and the facilities in place at the port in anticipation of Brexit.

“Mr. Bellanger was satisfied to see that everything is in place and that Dieppe is Brexit-ready,” says Jean-Claude.

They discussed the challenges that Brexit may bring, but the topic of priority was the possible opportunities for the route. The visit was also an occasion to underline Bellanger’s support for the Dieppe – Newhaven route, operated under a concession contract with the SMPAT (Syndicat Mixte de Promotion de l’Activité Transmanche). Its newly nominated President, Alain Bazille, was also part of the visiting group of officials.

“It was a pleasure to receive Mr. Bellanger, Mr. Bazille and the others. It was also a unique opportunity to explain in detail the daily work of all our staff and the challenges we have every day. We thank everyone for their participation and the acknowledgements we received for our work and Brexit preparations,” Jean-Claude adds.

DFDS in Ireland now AEO certified

Brexit preparations in the important Irish market have been rewarded with customs accreditation


It now seems very likely that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January and that the transition period, in which a trade deal will be negotiated, will then begin. As we have no guarantee that there will be a trade agreement, there is still a risk of a hard Brexit from the beginning of 2021. Therefore, our Brexit preparations continue.

This week, we reached a significant milestone when Ireland was added to the list of locations with AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) accreditation. John Coleman, Managing Director of Logistics in Ireland, explains: “DFDS in Ireland has been preparing for Brexit for quite some time and being AEO accredited was a core part of our strategy. We were very much encouraged to do so by our customer base, as Ireland would potentially be one of the most impacted markets, depending on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.”

“Therefore, we are very pleased with the accreditation. It will enable us to promote our customs services and streamline our customs agency operation and relationship with the Customs authorities. It will ultimately lead to the provision of a great service and experience for our customers. I would like to thank the project team involved during the application and auditing process – they have done a fantastic job here.”

Jean Aubert, Head of Group Indirect Taxes and a customs expert, is equally pleased: “It is the sixth AEO obtained by DFDS in 2019, and an important and significant achievement as we expect Ireland to be one of the most exposed and demanding post-Brexit countries, and the AEO status will enable DFDS to further boost our customs reputation. It is the product of hard work from the local team who have also been very active in preparing for Brexit with their customers and prospects. It has been a pleasure to work on this project, that will also encourage those who are putting the final touches on their applications. Thank you to everyone involved across the group.”

Brexit on 31 January but no changes to trading until the end of 2020

The UK’s Withdrawal Agreement is now set to be ratified by the UK parliament. However, there will be no changes to trading arrangements until the end of 2020, as the time until then is a transition period during which the EU and the UK will negotiate a trade agreement.


After months of uncertainty and several Brexit deadlines, the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement is now set to be ratified by the UK parliament. This means that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020.

However, there will be no changes to trading arrangements until the end of 2020, as the time until then is a transition period during which the EU and the UK will negotiate a trade agreement.

The final stages of ratification of the agreement will take place after Christmas, with the lower house of Parliament having until 9 January to approve the legislation, giving it just over three weeks to then pass through the upper house and receive Royal Assent.

The negotiations about a trade agreement will be very important for DFDS, our customers and partners. Therefore, we will follow the negotiations very closely, and our trade associations will naturally try to ensure that the industry’s viewpoints are heard and paid attention to by the negotiators.

We keep preparing

The new situation will not change our need to continue preparing for Brexit.

The UK Parliament is set to decide that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020, regardless of whether there is a trade agreement at that time, although some commentators see this as ‘sabre rattling’ by Boris Johnson and not necessarily seriously meant. This means that the risk of a no-deal Brexit situation has moved to the end of the year, and that we now have a year to finalise our preparations for handling this.

We hope and believe that there will be a new trade agreement. However, DFDS does not build on hope and belief, and we will continue the fantastic work you have done in the Brexit team and locally to get ready for Brexit. We will also continue supporting our customers with their preparations.

Thank you to everyone for taking us this far. I know I can rely on you to take DFDS even further, so we are ready to continue serving our customers and grow our UK-EU trade after 31 December when we have a new situation.

Torben Carlsen, CEO

DFDS tests seafood inspection point

On the photo from the DFDS Boulogne office: M. Le Sous-Préfet Jean-Philippe Vennin; Mme Laurine Bouteiller, Responsable SIVEP Boulogne et Calais from the French Ministry of Agriculture; Stéphanie Borillier, Transport Manager at DFDS Logistics; Inès Kaouach, Assistance d’exploitation DFDS; Emmnanuel Chochois, DFDS Driver

Brexit might be postponed, but colleagues in our local businesses are still working with the Brexit team to prepare for the elusive Brexit dates. Along with the French authorities, DFDS took part in testing a newly established Border Inspection Point for seafood in Boulogne.

One of the most complex traffics we need to prepare for is the export of Scottish seafood into the EU via Boulogne where DFDS was involved in testing the newly established Border Inspection Point for seafood – the so-called SIVEP. At the request of the French authorities, we took part in an exercise to test the process involving a truck, a driver and a customs clerk and presenting the phytosanitary certificate for inspection by the newly recruited veterinarian on site.

The DFDS Head of Customs Stéphanie Thomas and Stéphanie Borillier, Transport Manager at DFDS’ Boulogne office, took part in the exercise.

“We learnt a lot about the practical details. This will be very useful for day one after Brexit. We also identified areas where we need to improve. Overall, however, it was a very positive day, and the authorities represented by the Préfet and the Head of the Border Inspection Points at the French Ministry of Agriculture praised DFDS for our assistance and contribution to the organisation of the post-Brexit infrastructure and to the process,” Stéphanie says.

Special thanks to David Cranston from the Larkhall office for providing a truck and staff for the exercise.  It was very much appreciated. Now more than ever, the authorities in the strategic “Brexit” regions of Calais and Boulogne see DFDS as a key partner in the Brexit preparation efforts.

We welcome Brexit date extension and will continue to prepare

With the three month’s Brexit extension accepted by the EU, the danger of a disruptive no-deal Brexit on 31 October is removed. We are now hoping for a final ratification of the recent Brexit agreement and a timeline before 31 January so the transition period can begin. The transition period will guarantee business as today until at least the end of 2020.

The extension removes the risk of a cliff-edge Brexit and means that we can all focus more on our daily business in the affected areas, at least until 31 January 2020.

However, we may still face a no-deal Brexit if the agreement and the timeline haven’t been ratified by the UK before 31 January 2020.

And even though the agreement and the timeline get ratified, we do not yet know what the trade agreement that is anticipated to follow the transition period will look like. The UK and EU can agree to extend the transition period if they need more time to negotiate a trade agreement, but we have no guarantee that negotiations will be successful.

Therefore, we can’t rule out a no-deal Brexit at a later time and will continue maintaining and refining the systems and processes we have developed for Brexit. Yesterday’s extension also gives us more time to focus on building the expertise to offer customs services to our customers and informing them about the preparations they need to make.

Thank you again for your contribution to our high level of preparations for Brexit. There is a lot to be proud of. In our Brexit team, in business in all relevant locations and in IT you have gathered expertise and knowledge. You have built new processes and systems and tested how they work – and established unprecedented collaboration with our partners in the Governments, authorities, ports, at terminals and among customers.

All this means that we can approach the next Brexit hurdles with confidence if no solution is found before the deadline(s).

Best regards

Torben Carlsen

Logistics wins Brexit Express service contract

Allan Bell, VP and Head of Logistics, UK & Ireland.


DFDS is one of three companies which the UK Department for Health has awarded contracts for Express Freight Service to deliver medicines and medical products in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The service is to help ensure supply of vital medicines and medical products.

Contracts have also been awarded to United Parcel Services (UPS)and Biocair.

According to the contracts, the UK National Health Service will have access to next day delivery on small consignments, including temperature controlled or hazardous products, 48-hour delivery for larger loads, and access to specialist services, including hand delivered courier services if needed.

“We are ready to deliver on this,” says Allan Bell, VP and Head of Logistics, UK & Ireland.

“That we are included in a national contingency plan like this is a testament of our strong brand and our reputation for quality and reliability, which we have earned through our hard work over a long period of time, and something we should be very proud of,” says Allan.

The new contingency service will support existing plans already in place, including:

  • building buffer stocks of medicines and medical products
  • changing or clarifying regulatory requirements so that companies can continue to sell their products in the UK if we have no deal
  • strengthening the process and resources used to deal with shortages
  • procurement of additional warehouse capacity
  • supporting companies to improve the readiness of their logistics and supply chains to meet the new customs and border requirements for both import and export

Ministerial visit to Larkhall

The Larkhall team and UK Minister, Mr George Eustice during a tour of our chill warehouse facility in Scotland.


On Thursday 10 October our Larkhall site welcomed Mr George Eustice, UK Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs together with a delegation of officials.

The Ministers’ visit was to see at first hand the seafood industry’s preparedness for Brexit. He was very impressed with our facilities in Scotland and the work we have done with DEFRA and local authorities in preparation for Brexit.

Eddie Green, Steve Macaulay, Mick Devine and David Cranston hosted the meeting, presenting the DFDS setup in Scotland and our preparations on Brexit.
We voiced our concerns on two key areas, namely speed of local government to get officials in place to complete Health Certificates and the need to provide filtering of freight on motorways leading to the Channel.

The Minister was very impressed with our facilities in Scotland and the work we have done with DEFRA and local authorities in readiness for Brexit.

Brexit minister visits Vlaardingen

UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Stephen Barclay (third from right), visited Vlaardingen terminal to discuss Brexit and learn about DFDS’ preparations and concerns


The date for Brexit is not far off, and preparations for the no-deal scenario have been in full swing for a long time. Stephen Barclay, the UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, paid a short visit to our terminal in Vlaardingen to see what is being done.

On 30 September the minister, who is responsible for the direct exit negotiations, brought a delegation including the British Ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, to discuss the near future regarding Brexit and learn about DFDS’ preparations and concerns.

Hosting the delegation was Jacob Andersen, DFDS Route Director in the Netherlands, Richard van Kleef, Manager of General Stevedoring, Gate & Security, and Lucien Stötefalk, Agency Manager. A tour of the terminal gave the delegation an insight into the expected impact on the terminal after Brexit, as well as gate operations, vessel handling and customs protocols.

“The British delegation was impressed with the efficiency of our operation and the functions of the Dutch Port Community System Portbase, but also made aware of the impact on the terminal of the UK leaving the Customs Union,” says Lucien Stötefalk.

A Q&A session followed at the Port of Rotterdam head office together with the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Portbase. The minister showed an openness and a sincere interest in logistics processes, and offered no further clues as to what exactly will happen on 31 October. The tour and conversation with DFDS were broadcast on the Dutch television news channel “Nieuwsuur”.

Jacob Andersen (middle) greets Stephen Barclay