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

Brexit & Channel: Test of French customs system ‘very encouraging’

Truck arriving with simulated customs documents which were scanned at check-in by our staff. See the full post-Brexit flow that was tested in pictures in the gallery together with a video below

There was little support from the weather which showed its teeth with high winds and a bit of rain. But there was plenty of support from our colleagues working in the Channel business – and from lorry drivers – when the French authorities’ newly developed customs system and our system and processes were all tested in a full-scale exercise with real trucks and full ships on Tuesday this week, attracting massive media attention and followed closely by several trade associations, including the influential Freight Transport Association.

Separate tests of the IT systems took place from Calais and Dunkerque at morning departures and the full-scale tests at departures from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque in the afternoon, as we expect these to be the most challenging ones after Brexit.

We followed the departure for Calais at 15:20 on board Cote de Dunes. At arrival at check-in in Dover, all trucks were given simulated customs documents which were scanned at check-in by our staff and paired with the booking. This revealed that if the driver has the correct documents, the time to process the truck is almost the same as today. The customs documents were artificially ‘presented’ electronically to French Customs by the ‘customs agent’ and when the ferry left the port, French customs presented a list of all the boarded trucks’ license plates on a TV screen in the drivers’ lounge on board. The screen showed orange signs for the trucks they wanted to check upon arrival, and green signs for trucks that could continue their journey without being checked.

Even though the truck drivers participated voluntarily, they all understood the system, and trucks with orange signs did chose the lane with an orange stripe that took them to the control area. The rest continued without any delays and traffic flow was fully maintained.

The conclusion was as encouraging as it was illuminating: The systems works, as do our systems and processes, and it looks as if we can handle traffic and ensure the flow across the Channel in a post-Brexit world – provided that the trucks that arrive at check-in have prepared and present the customs documents.

“Unfortunately, we know that many customers and operators will – for various reasons – still be unprepared and arrive without having completed their customs formalities. Therefore, we have to be prepared that traffic could be disrupted at the beginning, even though systems and processes are ready and work. It is in everyone’s interest to avoid delays, and some may even suffer losses because of it, so we are confident that there will be a steep learning curve that will quickly reduce the number of unprepared trucks,” says Jean Aubert of the Brexit team .

“It has therefore become very clear that for the next four weeks, information to and support for our customers with preparing for customs clearance must move to the top of our agenda,” he says.

“This was a huge success, and it did not come by itself. In all parts of our Channel business, people have been working tirelessly to get ready for this. Our IT teams, Jesper Christensen’s operations team, our commercial teams and our customs team in France where Stéphanie, Hubert and Clarisse have spent nearly a full week of work on preparing the test and following up with the authorities – all deserve our gratitude and great credit for the work. Thank you also to the Brexit team and the people in the Group’s IT department where those working with Brexit have worked many late hours and weekends at work to get ready for this.

“Thanks to all of you, we have come really far in our preparations and the test demonstrated that we have the right things in place, and did it in the right way,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Short Routes & Passenger.

Kasper was not able to witness the test himself as he was occupied in a meeting with the British government – about Brexit!

A full scale test of post Brexit customs systems and processes on Tuesday was very successful.

See the full post-Brexit flow that was tested in pictures in the gallery below and a video below

Huge interest for North Sea Brexit Day in Immingham

On Monday this week, Ferry in Immingham had invited customers, partners and local authorities to a Brexit meeting. With a possible no-deal Brexit only a month away, interest has grown immensely and over 100 participants turned up to learn about the requirements and solution from HMRC (UK Customs) Associated British Ports, the Local Resilience Forum and not least Emma Leam – our own Brexit expert. The many participants left with a lot more knowledge about traffic management and practical arrangements for Day one after a No-Deal Brexit.

“We were really pleased that so many chose to come and get wiser on how we will handle it and how they can prepare. At DFDS, we have come a long way with preparations, and now the most critical element in maintaining flow after Brexit will be the level of preparations among our customers. So, meetings and information about how our customers can and need to prepare will be high on the agenda from now on,” says Emma.

DFDS shortlisted to bid on Brexit tenders

Along with seven sea, rail and air freight companies, DFDS has been shortlisted to bid on government contracts to transport critical goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

As the UK Department for Transport (DfT) writes in a press release on Friday 20 September, the companies will be using ports away from the congested Channel routes between Dover and Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne.

According to the DfT, there can be bids for up to £300m over four years, and the first contracts will be awarded in mid-October.

The eight companies signed up to the framework include, DFDS, Brittany Ferries, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as aviation freight provider Air Charter Services, and Eurotunnel.

Portrait of the Brexit team: Jean Aubert

Jean Aubert, Head of Group Indirect Taxes, has been extremely busy building and using his expertise on customs formalities to help DFDS prepare for Brexit – formalities, which, ironically, had disappeared with the introduction of EU’s single market in 1993, the same year he moved to the UK for a French transport company. Here he is, back in February, informing customers about Brexit preparations in Rotterdam .

There will be very few who know more about post-Brexit formalities and challenges than Jean Aubert, Head of Group Indirect Taxes – a knowledge built on a unique mix of education, industry experience and tireless work to interpret, explain and influence the future Brexit customs processes.

Having grown up in the historic city of Carcassonne in southern France, where he was born in 1965, he graduated from the University of Toulouse with a degree in finance and economics. He also became a chartered accountant, but instead of working as one, he took a role as financial controller at Norbert Dentressangle, one of France’s largest transport companies at the time. The company sent him to the UK in 1993 where, ironically, border formalities had just disappeared with the introduction of the EU’s single market. The company became quite famous in the UK because of a competition where you had to count how many of their lorries you were able to count on the road.

Jean moved on to the ferry business in 1996 when he joined SeaFrance as financial controller for the UK subsidiary and in charge of the finance departments for the ports of Dover and Calais – an experience that comes in handy for the Brexit work.

SeaFrance sailed into trouble, and after bankruptcy and a rather turbulent time, the ships were taken over by Eurotunnel and, later, by DFDS – and Jean left the company. “However, I stayed in contact with Torben Carlsen, and in 2013, former Head of BU Channel, Carsten Jensen, offered me the position of Project Manager for the legal area and for the refurbishment of the Port of Dunkerque – which was very much a team effort,” says Jean. In 2016, he moved on to his current position as Head of Group Indirect Taxes reporting to Jesper Heilbuth Mikkelsen, Head of Group Accounts and Taxes, and acting CFO.

In his job in the BU, he also had IT-related tasks, and so he was really prepared for his next big challenge: Getting DFDS ready for Brexit as member of the Brexit team. This job has kept him on the road, visiting nearly all offices in the UK and Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland Denmark and meeting with customs in all those countries.

Because of Brexit, Jean has had to apply for and has been granted permanent settled status in the UK.

“That DFDS is as prepared as we are for Brexit is obviously a fantastic team effort, involving other members of the Brexit Team, and many colleagues in business. However, I think all agree that without Jean’s expertise, without his and his associate Stéphanie Thomas connections to the EU, to national authorities and associations, we would certainly not have been this prepared – neither with border processes nor with our ability to offer customs clearance as a service to our customers. This has only been possible because of his tireless work and huge commitment to the task – a commitment that has made him sacrifice vacations and days off. Knowledge is the special mark he puts on things, always bringing facts and details into the discussions. In addition to this, he is simply a great colleague and person and always ready to help,” says Jesper Mikkelsen Heilbuth.

Channel colleagues prepare for Brexit

The ‘Get ready for Brexit’ staff offer invaluable guidance to customers and their drivers about the the potential Brexit on 31 October and how the procedures will be

As Brexit approaches, our colleagues on the Channel are preparing for the challenges ahead and have been for some time.

Amongst readiness planning within the ports and impact programmes for counties in the greater area, especially Kent, we are preparing our customers for a smooth transition together with the Department for Transport.

Therefore, we have teamed up with their marketing and strategy Brexit-team to deliver very important guidance to our customers and drivers.

Teams of two or three members of staff have started working 24/7 in and near the ‘Road Kings’ drivers lounge. They have a small area with some banners, desks, questionnaires, leaflets, as well as advice and information and guides for drivers. All this is delivered in several languages and includes information about how we are preparing for the challenges of hauliers and exporters.

Currently, teams are always present on board Dunkerque Seaways, and all six vessels are set to have round-the-clock coverage from 23 September. The other five being Dover Seaways, Delft Seaways, Calais Seaways, Côte des Dunes and Côte des Flandres.

Terminal Operations Manager Stewart Pearce says: “The teams are very well organised and have found a comfortable rhythm so as not to interfere with the drivers’ schedules for resting and meals. I speak with the managing director daily, and things are going well. Our efforts are well received with positive feedback from the vessel.”

“We firmly believe that this will go a long way to educating and keeping our customers well informed, and of course we are convinced that the customers will appreciate the assistance and guidance we offer.”

Guides and information are available in several languages and presented by well-trained staff

Now is the time to focus on Brexit

Dear everyone in the Ferry and Logistics Divisions,

It is impossible to precisely predict the risk of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, but it is fair to say that the risk hasn’t reduced lately – in fact rather the opposite! Therefore, we need to make sure that DFDS is ready and those of you working in our UK related businesses need to maintain attention to completing our own preparations and helping our customers complete theirs.

It is urgent. As it stands now, the free flow of goods will be affected by customs formalities in only 48 days.

We have come a long way, but there are still training to do and processes to adapt so that we can efficiently undertake customs clearance for those of our customers who ask us to do it for them.

There is a great deal of testing to do to ensure that the flow concepts planned in cooperation with customs authorities, ports and DFDS work as intended.

Support and understanding are needed for our colleagues in IT, who work tirelessly to get all systems ready for customs clearance and communication with customs and ports.

There will still be customers of Ferries and Logistics who have not completed the registrations and certifications  required for the customs formalities. You will need to reach out to those customers with meeting invites and other communication.

While providing information about the requirements to which we and our customers must adhere, we also need to show confidence in our ability to handle the Brexit challenges. Some of the scenarios presented to the public are much more negative than we perceive them to be. If we do it right, we and our customers can overcome the difficulties, limit delays and re-establish the flow within a few weeks.

We provide the infrastructure and the transport, which our customers should be able to rely on. Therefore, we have an obligation to be ready. Please use the knowledge gathered by the Brexit team and support them in their work and negotiations with the authorities. Use our Brexit website, which will be updated with the latest news next week. And above all, continue the fantastic work you have done so far in all locations.

Peder Gellert                                                         Niklas Andersson

EVP, Head of the Ferry Division                               EVP, Head of the Logistics Division

Seafood supply chain: Logistics at Brexit summit in France

DFDS employees attended a Brexit summit in Boulogne-sur-Mer to discuss the important seafood supply chain. Pictured are Stephanie Boriller, Operations Manager of DFDS Logistics Boulogne, Ivan Weatherhogg, Operations Director of DFDS Grimsby and Terry Broadhead, Managing Director of DFDS Grimsby


In preparation for Brexit, DFDS is coordinating its preparations with authorities, trade associations, customers and other stakeholders in order to align preparations so the supply chain works for all – this is not least the case for our important exports of seafood from the UK.

Thus, a delegation of employees from DFDS attended a Brexit summit in Boulogne-sur-Mer last week to discuss the readiness of the supply chain for seafood products entering through this key location.

The session included presentations from Seafish (a UK-based non-departmental public body) the Grimsby-based FMA (Fish Merchants Association) and DFDS Grimsby.

This well-attended event included representatives from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Port of Boulogne, cold store operators STEF and Delanchy, as well as several UK and French fish merchants.

Also in attendance was the Mayor of Boulogne, who gave a good insight into the port’s capabilities and the future plans to ensure seamless operations post-Brexit.

Terry Broadhead, MD of DFDS Grimsby, says: “It is crucial that with so little time left, all parties involved in the supply chain understand the role they play, and the level of readiness they need to achieve. Sessions like this are invaluable, with all key stakeholders in the room, to provide clarity on what can, and equally as important, what can’t be achieved.”

Brexit: we have an obligation to help maintain traffic flow

Dear all
Brexit is high on the European agenda again. And as no-one knows the final outcome of this highly unpredictable political process, our only option is to prepare for a no-deal Brexit with full customs control from 31 October.

Fortunately, we have come a long way in our preparations. These include:
– Adapting IT systems to ensure efficient digital communication with customs, customers and ports.
– Training staff in customs clearance and hiring experts to build expertise in various countries.
– Working closely with trade associations, customs, authorities, ports and customers to ensure that processes and solutions are aligned.
– AEO certification to ease cooperation with customs and customs processes.
– Allocating extra space in DFDS terminals for trailers waiting for customs clearance.
– Allocating space to establish stock service to help customers deliver quickly on both sides.
– Allocating staff to support our customers 24/7 in the first few hours and days after Brexit.

At a meeting this week of the Brexit Steering Committee, the status of our preparations was encouraging. However, it also revealed that we could do a lot more, and we need to do more, as we at DFDS have a special obligation to do our very best to maintain traffic flow and ensure the supply of goods to people and industries throughout the UK and the EU.

We will again be relying on the great work you do in all locations related to UK flows, and the important and valuable work being done by IT and our core members of the Brexit committee, such as Emma Leam, Jean Aubert, Stéphanie Thomas, Sean Potter, Jens Antonsen, their digital teams and other colleagues who are working tirelessly on building knowledge and supporting their colleagues throughout DFDS.

Despite our preparations, we still anticipate that many customers may be unprepared and that trailers will arrive at the port without the necessary documentation. As those trailers will not be able to enter the terminal, we anticipate that traffic flow will be disrupted for a few weeks.

Therefore, we will intensify our work to inform our customers how they can and need to prepare for customs control, via the internet, with newsletters, customer meetings and communication with communities in all locations.

If we are prepared, and if more of our customers get themselves prepared, we will be able to keep the disruption to traffic flow to a minimum, and quickly re-establish the flow on all routes so we can do what we are put into the world to do: enable our customers to trade and travel, and move people and goods across borders so business can continue to grow for us all.

Torben Carlsen

Emma Leam: Our Ferry Brexit guide

Allegedly, it was Benjamin Franklin who once said: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” And that is what we do. Whenever Brexit knocks on our door, we call on some of DFDS’ busiest people, and that certainly helps us. Emma Leam, Agency Director, and Jean Aubert, Tax Director, are the core drivers and main experts for our Brexit preparations. Read a pen-portrait of Emma here, and one about Jean next week

Women employees were few and diversity programmes had not even been invented when Emma Leam began her career as an assistant in the freight booking department at DFDS in Immingham in 1996. However, hard work and a talent for leadership were strong tools in a career that took her to her current position as Agency Director in DFDS’ busiest freight terminal in 2017. In this role, she is now leading the service work in the UK for our freight routes to and from Brevik, Gothenburg, Esbjerg, Cuxhaven and Rotterdam.

This automatically makes her a central figure in our Brexit preparations, where she is a member of DFDS’ core Brexit team. Emma has acquired such extensive knowledge about Brexit and customs requirements that she serves as DFDS’ ‘database’ for her colleagues in Ferry who are striving to prepare their routes and terminals for customs control.

Though only in her mid-forties, Emma appears to have life-long experience in transport, which also includes experience in road transport, and consequently our customers’ business. She grew up in the seaside resort of Cleethorpes, just south of Grimsby and Immingham, so the transport business was always close by. With parents who supported her in her decision to apply for jobs that were then considered to be men’s jobs, she started at the Southwold Shipping company when she was just 18. Her ‘road’ career also took her via Alphatrans, which recently became part of DFDS as our special transport entity.

Combined with her knowledge of customs processes, her extensive transport experience gives her a unique position in understanding and interpreting the Brexit requirements. And as she has an open and nice way of communicating and meeting people, and always takes her responsibilities seriously, her advice is being sought by not only us at DFDS, but by customs and border authorities and associations who all want to understand what will happen so that they can prepare for Brexit.

Emma has recently got married, so the honeymoon also included some Brexit emailing and she landed straight back into Brexit meetings. She has a short break next week, one that has already been postponed, before she is once again in the Brexit limelight.

Round-table talks about Brexit with Danish Minister for Taxation

Kell Robdrup participated in a round-table discussion about Brexit in Esbjerg along with Morten Bødskov, Minister of Taxation (in the middle with Kell Robdrup behind). Further participants were Charlotte Møller and Maren Holm Johansen from the customs authorities, Dennis Jul Pedersen and Jesper Bank of Port of Esbjerg, Simon Galsgaard of DSV Road Denmark, Søren Thomsen of Blue Water Shipping, Michael Svane of Dansk Industri, Lars Albertsen of Danish Crown and staff from customs and from the Ministry of Taxation

On Monday 12 August, Morten Bødskov, the Danish Minister for Taxation, visited Port of Esbjerg. As you can imagine, Brexit was very much on the agenda. Therefore, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) took the initiative to arrange a round-table meeting, inviting major stakeholders such as DFDS, DSV, Blue Water Shipping and Danish Crown, the customs authorities and Port of Esbjerg to the talks about Brexit expectations and preparations. SVP Kell Robdrup represented DFDS as head of BU North Sea South and thus with responsibility for the Esbjerg – Immingham route which transports most of the trailers between Denmark and the UK.

“It was interesting that most operators were aligned with regard to expectations relating to post-Brexit traffic flows and the lack of preparation among smaller and medium-sized companies. I am also pleased that I was able to discuss directly with the authorities about their plans for a Border Inspection Point (BIP) in Esbjerg, and raise awareness about requirements for opening hours. It is, of course, vital that the check-point is open for business when our ferry arrives from the UK in the afternoon,” says Kell, who was pleased with the fruitful discussions and cooperative spirit of the meeting.

DFDS Seaways UK host Multi-Agency Brexit Planning Day

Conscious that the clock is ticking towards Brexit, DFDS Seaways UK hosted a meeting with several UK Customs and Border authorities on 6 August.


The DFDS Seaways Immingham Management Team are conscious that the clock is ticking towards 31 October. To align Brexit processes and expectations for the North Sea Freight routes in the UK, they brought together several of the UK Customs and Border authorities for a meeting Immingham on 6 August.

After the meeting featuring 25 key stakeholders, Managing Director Andrew Byrne said: “It was about getting everyone around the table and getting some alignment on operational process and practicality. Not only do we want to be port-ready for when the time comes – be it deal or no deal – we want to make sure everyone else is. If what we have proposed becomes best practice, then that is a really powerful contribution – to drive rather than be driven.”

The diverse range of cargo and the pace at which roll-on, roll-off traffic arrives and leaves the facility – on average one unit every 60 seconds – means retaining the fluid movement of goods is a top priority. Due to the complex and multi-user nature of the Port Estate it is also vital other port users and operators retain the same free flowing operation otherwise their issues could affect all port users.

The DFDS team gave all meeting attendees a tour of the terminal. This gave all parties a taste of the impact that anything, but smooth passage could cause. The tour brought to life the issue of frictionless trade. All agencies could see it at first hand which was very powerful.

Agency Director Emma Leam explained why she felt the need to bring people together, “We were concerned about the lack of activity with planning and where we are. We needed to get things moving so we took the decision to not only host but facilitate a meeting with several key government agencies.”

“We had proposals we wanted to run by them, to ensure we are compliant whilst being efficient. We are critical to the UK supply chain and economy and we needed to show people this first-hand. We have been working hard to prepare for everything and be ready for anything, but we need to be aligned with all the agencies,” she added.

Next month DFDS Seaways UK will host and facilitate a Brexit Engagement Day with customers and supply chain partners with over 100 delegates expected to attend.

Brexit: UK Department for Transport issues tender

“Whether DFDS will participate in the Brexit tender issued by the UK Department for Transport will be decided later,” says Kell Robdrup, SVP BU North Sea South.


As you know, DFDS had a very good cooperation with the UK Department for Transport (DfT) about providing extra capacity for sea transport around the expected Brexit days of 29 March and 12 April.
The press is now reporting a new initiative by the DfT to ensure extra capacity around the new Brexit date of 31 October 2019.

“However, the process is different from the previous one. The Dft has just issued a tender for the job, enabling ferry and shipping companies to submit their bids and terms for providing the extra sea transport capacity between EU and the UK , which the DfT considers necessary to ensure the supply of critical goods during the first few months after 31 October. All companies can participate,” says Kell Robdrup, VP BU North Sea South.

“Whether DFDS will participate will be decided later. Today – Thursday 4 July – Emma Leam, Agency Director in Immingham and member of our Brexit team, Jean-Claude Charlo, MD France, and Maria Anagnostou, Fleet Management, will participate in an information meeting arranged by the Dft to explain the tender and the process,” he says.

Brexit stockpiling created temporary volumes peak on DFDS’ ferry routes

In a freight market as huge as in the one to and from the UK, a volume jump of ten per cent from month to month is very unusual.  However, due to Brexit, this is what happened on DFDS North Sea and English Channel routes on average during March.

“This is in our view due to the fear of a disruption of transport routes up to the then expected Brexit dates of 31 March and 12 April and possible cumbersome customs procedures and additional tax on the goods,” says Kell Robdrup, Senior Vice President, North Sea routes.

“Both we and our customers have prepared intensively for Brexit, and among those are customers that have production and assembly lines that need a continuous influx of parts to keep running. The ferry routes also service customers that have obligations to secure goods flow for their customers. Therefore, many companies have been building extra stocks to avoid a very costly break down of deliveries, not least on the Dover-France routes where DFDS alone services more than a million trucks every year,” he says.

As part of the UK’s preparations, the  UK department for Transport has also signed an agreement with, among other, DFDS, to perform extra sailings to protect the people and businesses in the UK from lack of critical goods in case of a disruption of traffic due to a no-deal Brexit. As this didn’t happen and Brexit was postponed, this ‘insurance’ contract was cancelled on 1 May by the UK Department for Transport.

“DFDS is continuing its work to prepare for Brexit until a no-deal Brexit isn’t a risk anymore.”

BREXIT: DFDS gets its first full certificate as customs Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

Wolter Horstman, Customs Manager for the Netherlands with the full AEO Certificate granted to Logistics in the Netherlands. Logistics in Germany has also been granted AEO certification. They can now look forward to simplified customs produces and are entitled to use the AEO logo.


As you know, Brexit isn’t over. It has only been postponed, and all our colleagues involved in preparing for Brexit are continuing their work in all relevant areas. An important task is preparing for doing customs clearance, which we also want to offer our customers as a service.

Therefore, we have spent a lot of time preparing for certification in relevant countries as Authorised Economic Operator (AOE), which is a Customs-Business partnership introduced by the World Customs Organisation. Traders who become AOE certified enjoy benefits throughout the EU such as simplified customs procedures and securities. Jean Aubert, Group Indirect Tax Manager and member of the Brexit team, says: “Now our hard work is starting to pay off, and shortly before Easter, DFDS Logistics in the Netherlands received full AEO certification for customs simplifications and customs security. It is the first time we have been granted full AEO certification, which gives access to a range of customs waivers including reduced requirements for providing guarantees. Furthermore, we received AOE certification for customs simplification in Germany.”

Wolter Horstman, Customs Manager for the Netherlands, says: “The certificate is recognition by the authorities of the seriousness and robustness of our procedures in the Netherlands and is also a commitment to transparency with the authorities.”

Michael Bech, MD for Logistics in the Netherlands, says: “I want to thank Wolter and everyone else in the local team involved in this. The application has cost a great deal of work, and we received a lot of praise from the authorities. Special thanks also to the DFDS group tax department for assisting us throughout the application process. It has been a very successful team effort between the local business unit and the head office functions.”

In Germany, Aivars Oss was the project lead and handled the application with the local resources. This is also an outstanding achievement. “We started somewhere in June/July 2018 and finally obtained the AOE status on 4 April. The German customs authorities started an evaluation procedure in 2018 but have been inundated by the many Brexit-related applications so we had to be patient and were challenged by the authorities during this evaluation process,” says Aivars, who is being credited for this. Philipp Mayworm adds: “German authorities can be rather tough but Aivars’ professionalism ensured that we finally have everything in place. Besides driving the AEO application, Aivars also shared best practice with colleagues in Cuxhaven and acted as sparring partner with regard to possible (customs) consequences following Brexit.”

Over the coming weeks and months we expect to see more local business receiving AEO certificates.