Rotterdam gears up for Brexit

Port of Rotterdam, the Rotterdam and Vlaardingen municipalities, and Rijkswaterstaat are creating five new buffer parking sites for the trucks that may run into customs clearance problems if the UK decides to leave the EU without a trade deal.

Up to 700 lorries will be able to wait there temporarily if their customs documents have not been properly prepared for maritime crossings to the UK post-Brexit.

The aim of the coordinated action is to minimise any extra delays resulting from additional customs formalities at the ferry and short sea terminals - as required in trade with third countries - so as to ensure freight traffic to the UK runs as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, more intensive passport checks and inspections made by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority could mean longer processing times at terminals.

On the northern bank in Hoek van Holland, the Municipality of Rotterdam has allocated the 200 trucks-big Oranjeheuvel site, close to the ferry terminal. In Maasdijk, in the Municipality of Westland, Rijkswaterstaat, a highway authority, has created a buffer site for around 50 trucks. In the Municipality of Vlaardingen, a site is being created on Waterleidingstraat for around 80 trucks.

On the southern bank, in turn, buffer parking sites are being created on Moezelweg and Seattleweg by the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The former site, located in the vicinity of the ferry and short sea terminals that operate out of the Europoort area, will provide space for approximately 290 trucks. The Seattleweg site will provide space for approximately 80 trucks.

The buffer parking sites will be only accessible to trucks that have not been given access to the ferry terminals in the Port of Rotterdam because the Portbase system has not received prior notification of their cargo. Truck drivers can use these locations to liaise with their client or transport planner, and make sure the necessary formalities can yet be completed.

Exporters, hauliers, and shippers are advised to use Portbase to provide digital notification of their cargo that is destined for the UK. "Using this Dutch supply chain solution for Brexit, cargo can pass quickly and without unnecessary delay through customs to and from the UK, even after Brexit," a press release from the Port of Rotterdam read.

In preparation for Brexit, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the port's ferry terminals have jointly carried out a simulation on the possible impact Brexit might have on Rotterdam's UK-bound wheeled freight traffic. Based on historical data, it has been assumed that approximately 400 trucks will not have their formalities in order. This, in result, allowed to estimate the required number of temporary buffer parking places for heavy goods vehicles to be prepared in advance.

Of the roughly 54mt traded annually between the UK and Netherlands, around 40mt passes through the Port of Rotterdam. The bulk of the volume uses ferry and short sea crossings.