How will Brexit affect my imports and exports? Where to find customs help

Post-Brexit import and export paperwork is expected to cost UK businesses around £7bn a year. Where to find customs help for your small business

UPDATED: The Government has admitted that British companies trading with Europe will have to fill in an extra 215 million customs declarations a year post Brexit.

And this post Brexit customs bureaucracy burden will cost British businesses around £7bn a year, according to Government officials.

The Government is poised to announce another £50m to support the hiring and training of some 50,000 new customs officers, as well as buy the IT infrastructure to cope with the 215m new customs declarations. This is on top of £84m provided so far.

However, insiders say the whole scheme has been ill thought out and does not leave nearly enough time to train customs officers property. The £50m figure works out at just £1,000 to recruit and train each new agent, a process which can take anything up to one year.

Duncan Buchanan of the Road Haulage Association said that there are not nearly enough new customs agents in place before the December 31 Brexit deadline. Buchanan said there was not enough time to train agents to the right standard, potentially causing chaos at borders.

And a report from the Institute for Government thinktank said that the £84m provided by Government to date to train new customs agents so far will not be enough to cover the number of agents required to handle 215m new pieces of customs clearance paperwork.

In 2018, former HMRC head Jon Thompson estimated that the cost of each customs declaration could be £32.50 each but that could go as high as £55.

You will need an EORI number

UK businesses trading with EU countries need to obtain an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they do not already have one. UK businesses trading with the EU should (if they do not already have one) apply for a UK EORI number from HMRC, to ensure they can still move their goods into and out of the UK post-Brexit.

See also: What is an EORI number and how to get or check one

You can apply for a UK EORI number here.

You will also need an EU EORI number

You will also need an EU EORI number when you export to the European Union. You should apply for an EU EORI number from the customs authorities in whichever EU state you deal with the most, to ensure you can still move your goods into and out of the EU. Get this from the customs authority in the EU country where you submit your first declaration or request your first decision. You can find a list of EU customs websites here.

Similarly, EU businesses intending to continue trading with the UK will need to apply for a UK EORI number post-Brexit (though unlike the European Commission, the Government has indicated that there will be a post-Brexit grace period, in which EU businesses can continue using their EU EORI number to bring goods into the UK while they wait to get a new UK number).

Relieving the red-tape burden

One way to relieve the customs burden for businesses will be to use a customs agent to process your Brexit paperwork.

According to the Institute for Export and International Trade (IOE) half of the 1,000 exporters surveyed in a straw poll said they intended to use intermediaries post December 31, while the other half said they would handle their own submissions.

What does a customs agent do?

A customs agent – also known as a customs broker or import broker – works to make the import and export of goods run smoothly, by facilitating the clearance of goods through customs.

Customs agents are experts in international trade – it’s their job to keep abreast of the changing rules and regulations, and make sure that their clients have all the paperwork and licenses they need to import goods to the UK.

What’s the difference between a customs agent and a freight forwarder?

It’s helpful to understand that there are both freight forwarders and customs agents working in many markets. Customs brokers typically deal with the import and export side of international deliveries, including commodity codes, and EORI requirements – while freight forwarders are specialists in the logistics. However, many freight forwarders can also act as customs agents, and pick up the end to end process of moving your goods including both logistics and customs requirements.

The role of the customs agent

A customs agent will work with small business owners to check that the documentation, and where necessary, licenses, are in place for the goods they are bringing into the UK. They’ll also make sure that the correct duty and taxes are paid, to reduce any delays.

Their services can include any of all of the following:

  • Checking the classification and valuation of your goods, and making sure you use the right commodity codes
  • Liaising with government agencies and customs authorities on your behalf.
  • Advising on any necessary licenses for import of restricted or hazardous goods
  • Preparation and submission of documents which have to be filed to clear customs processes
  • Helping arrange correct payment of import duties and VAT as necessary

One of the big advantages of using a customs agent is that they can help you navigate a complex and changing set of import and customs regulations. More changes to the customs code can be expected as Brexit looms.

For example, a customs agent will ensure you have all the correct paperwork in place for importing into the UK – such as your EORI number. They’ll make sure the shipment is labelled with the right commodity codes, and all the necessary documents and licences are in place. And this will mean that your shipment clears customs into the UK without delays, and with no worries about paying over the odds in import duty or being hit by a fine because of missing paperwork.

>See also: Customs brokers: Everything you need to know

What are the advantages of using a customs agent?

  • Peace of mind – your customs agent will ensure your shipment is completed according to the current law. By hiring in this expertise you don’t need to learn it yourself, or employ someone in house to specialise in the area
  • You can deal solely with your customs agent, rather than having to speak to several different government agencies individually
  • Avoid overpaying duty or VAT – and remove the risk of underpaying and then facing fines and additional charges later
  • Your goods won’t be released by UK customs until all the duty and VAT is paid, and documentation is in order. Using a customs agent can reduce delays and keep your business moving
  • Many customs agents also offer additional services, such as tracking your delivery as it moves from the point of origin

Where can I find a customs agent?

The Government has published a list of authorised customs agents ahead of Brexit, and that list is continually updated.

NamePhone numberEmail address
1st  Seakargo Ltd   01473 375030
1st FreightBookers Worldwide Ltd 01202 666777
1st Penguin Shipping Ltd01794 830
2XL UK01482 904
4PL Consultancy Ltd44
512 (Doncaster) Limited01302
512 Sheffield Ltd01709
A A Freight UK01394
A B Cargo03300 417
a. hartrodt (UK) Limited Liverpool Office+44 151
a. hartrodt (UK) Limited London Office+44 208
A.M. Shipping Ltd01277 810
AAA Freight Services Ltd0203 9269
AAI Group+ 44 1268
Abacus Express Logistics Ltd01753
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce01224
ACC Shipping Ltd01474 330
ACE Forwarding Limited01224 773
ACP Freight Services02392 862
Action International Freight01704
Active Freight Management Limited01784
Admark Shipping Solutions Limited01394
Advantage Worldwide (UK) Limited01932
Advantage Worldwide (UK) Limited – Glasgow0141 887
Advantage Worldwide (UK) Limited - London Heathrow01932
Advantage Worldwide (UK) Limited - Manchester0161 437
Aerona Customs Clearing Agents Ltd0161 652
AGI Global Logistics Ltd01179
Agility Logistics Limited0161 868
Air & Ocean Logistics Ltd01753 689
Air Cargo Trader Ltd0208 638
Air Sea Logistics Ltd01753
Air Sea Scotland Ltd0141 887
Airport Cargo Ltd0208 890
Airsupply Shipping Agents01753 689
AIT Worldwide Logistics (UK)01753
AIT Worldwide Logistics (UK)01392
AIT Worldwide Logistics (UK)0161 437
Alegrant ltd44 (0) 7747 607710
Alinea London Limited020 7101
Alinnza Trading London Ltd07840 191
All Cargo UK Ltd07587
Allair Global03339 884
AllClear Logistics Limited01473 274
Alliance Heathrow0208 818
Alliance Shipping Birmingham01527 597
Alliance Shipping London01268 410
Allseas Global Logistics0161 272
Allways International Freight Forwarding Ltd44 (0)1708
Alpi UK Limited01753
ALS Customs Services Ltd01784 424
AL-SQR Express Ltd44 2088
AMT Intercargo UK Limited44 (0)1 224 772
Anchor Freight Ltd01473 928
Anderson Harvey Lake & Co0121 784
Andrews Shipping & Fwdg Ltd0208 805
Anglia Forwarding Ltd01394
Anglo Freight (UK) Ltd02380
Anjon Freight Services Limited0151 227
APLL UK Ltd44 (0)208
Aprile UK Ltd01992 578
Aquarius Airfreight Services Ltd02088 142
Aramex UK Ltd01753 210
ASCO Freight Management Ltd01224 470
ASG Logistics Ltd020 8629
ASM Freight Services Ltd020 8572
Association of Freight Software Suppliers07484 856
Atlantic Pacific Global Logistics Ltd01268 582
Aviation Support Ltd01753 757
Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce01292 678
Aztek International Freight Limited01268 286
B E Freight Movements Ltd0845 055
B&H Worldwide Ltd02087 595
Balkans Direct Ltd01304 821
Banks & Lloyd (Shipping) Ltd01625 441
Barker & Hood Ltd01206
Barnsley and Rotheram Chamber of Commerce01709
BDA Overseas Ltd01753
BDP International UK Ltd01322
Beamish Freight Solutions Ltd07771 366
Beckchoice Ltd01375
Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce01582 522
Bethan Customs Consultancy Ltd01651 269
Bettafreight Services0121 783
Black Country Chamber of Commerce0330 024
Blaiklock Limited01932
Blair Consular Services Ltd01784 254
Bluewater Shipping UK Ltd01224 771
BMW Shipping Agents Ltd023 8022
Boast International Ltd01394 276
Bollore Logistics UK Ltd0151 243
Braid Logistics UK Ltd0141 445
Bridges Logistics & Fulfilment Ltd0208 467
Bring Cargo Ltd44 1469
Britannia Bureau Ltd01621 856
Broadside Customs Clearance Agency Ltd01394
Bronel Group Limited44 1268
Brooklands International Freight Services Ltd01737
Brunel European LTD01268 243
Brunel Shipping01268 243
Brunswick International – Liverpool0151 933
Buckle Shipping01394 600
Bullet Express Ltd0330 102
Burhill Cargocare Limited01784 473
Burhill Logistics Ltd01394 612
Business West01275 370
C & R Global Logistics Ltd0161 533
C Logistics Ltd0208 527
Caledonian Freight Ltd01324 472
Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce01223
Campbell McCleave & CO Ltd0289 442
Cannon Freight Ltd01902
Cardinal Maritime Limited0151 705
Cargo Air Freight Ltd0289 037
Cargo Forwarding Ltd0289 037
Cargo Gallery International Logistics co Ltd01942
Cargo Overseas Ltd0161 498
Cargo World Logistics Limited01925 940
Carlton Freight Ltd0151 707
Casper Shipping01642 243 662 (Option 2)
Cavalier Logistics UK LTD0203 887
Cavendish Freight services01394
CBI Global Freight Management Ltd0161 870
CCL - Customs Clearance Ltd0208 231
CCT Worldwide (UK) Customs Services Ltd01634 711 969customs@cct
CEVA Logistics01394 606
CH Robinson Worldwide (UK) Limited01753
Chamber International0845 034
ChamberCustoms (All UK Ports)0207 654
Chambers & Cook Freight Ltd0121 356
ChannelPorts Ltd01304 218
Charles Kendall Freight Ltd0208 384
Charlton House Ltd0845 054
CHD Forwarding Ltd01394 674
CIE Services Ltd07990 844
CLA UK 0116 279
Claridon Group Ltd01375
Clarksons Port Services02890 242
Clear Fr8 Ltd01304 806
Clearing Customs UK Ltd44 0
Comac Freight Services Ltd44 (0) 1489
Cool Cargo Logistics Ltd020 8577
Corvus Air Cargo Ltd01274
Cory Logistics0139 460
Cosdel UK44 (0) 1304 803
Courier Network Ltd01753
Crow Overseas Freight01274
Customs & Trade Compliance Limited0208 144
Customs Clearance Consortium0333 012
Customs connect Limited44 (0) 161 813
Customs Insights Consultancy Ltd0130 421
Customs specialist in the food, sanitary, phytosanitary and health industry
Customs specialist in the food, sanitary, phytosanitary and health industry
Customs Wise353 1
CustomsLink44 (0) 1772
D.S. Freight Services Ltd01753
Daily Groupage Services Ltd01304
Damco UK Ltd0208 751
dap UK Limited+ 44 (0) 1394
Dartswift International Ltd44 (0) 151 236
Davies Turner & Co Ltd03300 301
Davies Turner Air Cargo Ltd01753 680
DB Schenker and Schenker Ltd 0208 831
Deloitte LLP01223 259
Denholm Global Logistics Limited[+44] (0)1375
Denholm Port Services Limited01324
Derry Bros Custom Clearance Ltd028 8778
Deugro (United Kingdom) Ltd01489 578
DFDS Logistics Ltd01469
DH Freight Ltd01394
DHL Global Forwarding0208 754 5000 or 0208 754
Diamond Global Logistics01753
Diamond Worldwide ltd020 8194 0786
DinaCato International Freight Forwarding Services Ltd01502 446
DLA Piper UK LLP0207 796
DLH Worldwide Ltd0161 848
DMS International Ltd01293
Doncaster Chamber of Commerce01302 640
Dornack International Ltd01708
Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry01202 714
Doyle shipping Group (Belfast)02890 755
Drac Logistics Ltd01324 614
Dragon Logistics & Transport Ltd+ 44 (0)
Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce01382 228
E W Taylor & Co. (Forwarding) Ltd01795 435
Eagle Cargo Services0208 591
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce01254 356
East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)0333 320
Eclipse Worldwide Ltd01604
ECU Worldwide (UK) Ltd02380 626
Eddie Maybank0208 691
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce0131 221
EFM Management Ltd44 1784
EFS Logistics Limited01282
Elm Consolidators Limited01375 395
Embassy Freight Services (UK) Ltd01268 820
Embrace Global Logistics Ltd0161 279
EMS Cargo Ltd0800
Enterprise Liner Agencies Ltd0208 591
EOS Warehousing Ltd02892 680
Espace Europe Ltd01543 418
ETL Logistics Limited44 (0)
Euro Asia Maritime Agencies Ltd02380
Eurogate Logistics0203 954
Euronox Limited+44(0) 208 434
Europa Air & Sea01784 264
Europa Shipping Services (Newcastle) Ltd01289 330
Eurosprint Freight Services0121 785
EuroTurk Freight Solutions Ltd44 1480
Evolution Forwarding01642
Excess Luggage Ltd0845 270
Expeditors International UK Ltd01784
Exporter Services Ltd01157 270018
Falsum Consulting Limited0207 735
Far Logistics Ltd023 8020
Fastnet Forwarding Ltd01582 463
Fastrack Custom Declaration 44 0923218241129
FC Logistics Limited01394
FCL Global Forwarding Ltd0121 555
FCL World Logistics Ltd01635 268
FCX Worldwide Express0162 472
Fellowship Freight Ltd01473 794
Fenix Freight Limited0121 222
Fenris Strategic Solutions Ltd+44(0) 2890
FH Bertling Logistics Aberdeen Limited01224 661
Fistral Impex Limited01279
Flexible Cargo Services Ltd01206
Flexport International B.V.0031 20 888
Fornax Logistics Limited0207 096
Freight Agencies Forwarding Limited01375
Freight Group01394
Freight Logistics Solutions01633 288
Freightair Ltd0191 268
Freightlane Ltd01304 831
Fresca Group Ltd T/A Fresh Clear01892 835
Frontier Forwarding Services Ltd0208 893
FSC Oceans Limited01753
Future Forwarding Co Ltd0844 879
G Heyn & Sons Ltd028
G.B. Agencies Ltd01472 246
GAC Management Ltd07967
GAC Services (UK) Ltd01642 637
Gaston Schul Customs Ltd01469
Gateship Limited t/a Gateway Shipping Co01304
GAVA ILS UK LTD+44(0)1784
GCL Logistics Ltd020 8844
GEFCO Forwarding UK Ltd01784
Gemini Freight Management Ltd01322 374
Geodis FF United Kingdom Limited0802 831
George Baker (Shipping) Ltd0139 469
Gerlach Customs Services (UK) Limited01304 218
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce0141 204
Global Container Services Ltd01394 451
Global Corporate Logistics UK44(0)75 7783
Global forwarding Ltd0161 4367
Global Freight Connections+44 (0)
Global Intelligent Logistics (UK) Limited01322 537
Globex Freight Management Ltd01394
Globexaair LTD0208 897
Gondrand UK0208 526
Gordian Knot Forwarding Ltd0730 5400
GP Global Logistics Ltd01633 843
GR8 FR8 Limited0161 610
Grace Global Forwarding Ltd01473
Grange Shipping Ltd01394 605
H & M Freight Services Ltd0208
Hamilton Shipping Container Services Limited02890
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce01329 242
Hansen and Mac Ltd01403 274
Harbour Shipping Limited01304 200
Heavyweight Air Express Limited01332 853
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Limited0130 424
Hemisphere Freight Services Limited01473 550
Henry Diaper & Co. Ltd0151 545
Herbert Watson Freight Services Ltd01619 050
Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce01905
Heritage International Freight0208 569
HICS Worldwide01753 790
Hillebrand Ltd01304
Hollyport Logistics Ltd01753 680
Horizon International Cargo Ltd01753 688
HPA LTD01482
I C Shipping Limited0121 502
Ideal International Ltd01708
IML Agencies Ltd01394
Immediate Transportation Co Ltd01753
Immediate Transportation Co Ltd   01394 674421
Immingham Transport Ltd07710 703
In Time Worldwide Express Limited0345 258
Independent Freight Solutions Ltd02476 343
Interfreight (UK) Ltd01394 676
International Forwarding Ltd01675 434
International Vehicle Shipping Services0203 787
Interspan Freight Solutions Ltd0161 848
Inter-ways Ltd01302
Inverness Chamber of Commerce01463
Invictus Global Logistics Limited01634 540
Isca Forwarding Ltd01392
J C Shipping Services Ltd02380
JAG-UFS Ltd0208 818
Jalsa (UK) Ltd020 8751
Jas Forwarding (UK) Limited01224 766
Jeavons Eurotir Ltd0121 201
JEM Freight Services (UK) Ltd0175 368
JEM Logistics Ltd0161 713
Jenkinson Logistics44 2890
JODA Freight01535
John Good Shipping Limited0161 834
John Pipe International+44 2380
John Sutcliffe & Son (Grimsby) Ltd01469
Jordon Freight Ltd01394 286
JPAir International44 (0) 1753 683
JS Forwarding01394
JSA Global01394
K&L Freight Ltd01606 272
Kalantha07399 308
KC Group Shipping Ltd0141 420
KCI Logistics01268 646
Kedan Logistics Ltd0345 094
Ken Hill Freight Services Ltd01530
Kenny Fisher Shipping Limited01704
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce01233 503
Kerry Logistics (UK) Ltd0161 873
Kestrel Liner Agencies01279 729
Key Air & Sea Ltd0208 756
Key Cargo International0161 998
KGH Customs Services0161 768
Killick Martin & Company Limited01268 209 or
Kingscote Rojay Limited01429
Kingstown Shipping Limited01482
KLG Europe Bradford Limited44 0 7920
KranLee Logistics Limited01246
Kuehne + Nagel01322 283
L B Freight Limited01422
Laser Transport International Ltd01303
LCL International01304 213
Leman International Transport01924 921
LF Logistics UK Limited0161 -786
LHR Global Logistics01753 689
Ligentia UK Ltd0113 344
Linc Freight Management LTD01376
Lincoln Maritime Limited+44 (0)
Locker Freight Ltd0151 480
Logfret UK Ltd0208 759
Logwin Air + Ocean Uk Limited44 (0)161 266
Lombard Shipping plc01473 243
London Chamber of Commerce & Industry020 7203
Lovefreight ltd01268
Lucas Freight Ltd01481
LV Shipping & Transport44 0
M&B (Felixstowe) Ltd01304
M&W Airfreight Ltd01619 050
M&W Freight Ltd01619 050
M.A. Freight Services Limited01553
Maersk01394 695 653 or 01394 695
Maina Freight Forwarders PLC44 0
Maina Imports Ltd44 0
Maltacourt Limited08454 989
Mannson Freight Services Limited012682
Mapcargo International Ltd01753 255
Marexport UK Ltd01473
Maritime Cargo Services01449 616
Martintrux Group Ltd01304 213
Martyn Fiddler Customs Services Limited01279 810
Maurice Ward & Co (UK) Ltd01784
Maxi Haulage Ltd01925 605
McAuley Freight Ltd028 90
Meachers Global Logistics Ltd02380
Mersey Forwarding Ltd / Liverpool Port Logistics Ltd0151 317
Metro Shipping Limited0121 717
MSK Logistics Ltd01293 400540    Sales@MSKLOGISTICS.COM
Nagel Langdons Limited01304 872
NamePhone numberEmail address
NDF Worldwide01772
NEBA Freight Limited020 8642
Neill & Brown Limited01482
Nelson Freight Ltd0151 645
Nemcast International Ltd01753
Neon Freight Ltd01477 668003 or 07788 667
Neptune Shipping Agency Ltd01579 386
Neptune Shipping Agency Ltd01579 386
NEXUS Customs Ltd01724
NF Global Logistics Ltd0113
Nippon Express (UK) Ltd +44 (0) 20 8737
Nisko UK01945 860
NISSIN (U.K.) Ltd44 01895
NMC Global Logistics Limited+44 1394
NNR Global Logistics UK Ltd0208 893
Noatum Logistics UK Ltd44 (0) 1784
Norfolk Chamber of Commerce01603 625
Norman Global Logistics Ltd01394 695
Ocean International FS Ltd01489 578
Oceanblue Logistics Ltd01472
Oceanside Logistics Ltd02380 860
Oceanwide Freight Services Limited0044 (0) 1708
Octain Ltd 01245 449080
OIA Global Ltd0207 265
OIA Global Ltd0207 265
Omni Customs Products07340 108
OMNI Freight Services Ltd01394
One World Express Inc Ltd0208 860
One World Logistics UK Limited01753
OOCL Logistcs (Europe) Ltd01473 654
Orbis International Ltd+44 (0)1636
Orbit Cargo Services Ltd020
Orbital Freight Ltd01603
Osborn Customs Services Ltd01634
P&O Ferrymasters Ltd01473
PDQ Specialist Courier Services0800 046
Pantos Logistics UK Ltd01753 610
ParcelWorks Ltd0797 393
Parkside Warehousing & Transport Co
PDP Freight Services Ltd44  (0) 1753
Pentagon Freight Services Plc01224 405
Pentagon Transport NCL0191
Perishable Movements Ltd0208 893 2666
Peter and Paul Enterprises Ltd07984 647
Petrasco Services Ltd01224 337
PFE Express Ltd01376 533
Pinnacle International Freight Ltd0845 6216
Pioneer International Import Export Limited+44(0)20 8756
PJ Global Logistics Limited01304 806
PJ Shipping Ltd01304 825
PMG Worldwide Ltd01753
Premier Freight Services01268270789
Prime Express Cargo & Couriers Ltd44 20 8573
Prisma Logistics (UK)Limited 44(0)208 933
Product Logistics0208 564
Quality Freight Services Ltd0161 820
Quest Freight Ltd020 8890
Radius Logistics UK Ltd+44 (0)
Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services  0117
Raycole Global Logistics Ltd01375
RBF Cargocare Limited01394 671
RBF Cargocare Limited (Cannock)01543 728
RBF Cargocare Limited (Felixstowe)01394 671
RBF Cargocare Limited (London Gateway)01375 678
Real-Time 365 Limited01245 860
Reed Forwarding Ltd0128 475
Regency International (G.B.) Ltd01708 620
Regency Shipping Ltd01753 287
Regional Express Limited44 (0) 1794 516
Reliable Shipping (UK) Ltd01394 671
Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce0141 847
Republic Cargo Systems Limited0121 712
Rhenus Logistics0161 886
Robert Kukla Spedition UK Ltd01303
S.H. Pratt Group Ltd01582 436
SAFCO Services Ltd01473
Samphire Cargo Ltd01304 207
Samskip Ltd01472
Sandrair International Limited01932 787
Savino Del Bene0208 844
Schallenberg International Limited01394 675
Sea Avia Forwarding Ltd0238 033
Seabourne Forwarding Limited44 01332 814
Seabrook Export Services Ltd0203 288
Sea-Cargo UK01469
Seafair (UK) Limited +44 (0)1268
Seafast Logistics Ltd01394 694
Seagull Freight Services Ltd02085 944
Seairo Shipping Ltd0151 482
Seaport Freight Services Ltd01394 676
Seaspace International Forwarders Ltd01293 554620info@seaspace-ain’
Senator International0161 493
Senator International Freight Forwarding Limited 0161 493
Sevenstar Yacht Transport UK44
SGS United Kingdom Limited01749 345
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce0114 201
Ship Cars Ltd01495 320
Shipright Ltd0796 100
Shropshire Chamber of Commerce01952 208
Shuttle Bridge Logistics Ltd0203 1375
Simarco International Ltd01376
SKI Freight International Limited0161 217
SkyPort International Logistics Ltd0161 266
SLR International Ltd 01255 870099
Sound Moves UK Ltd01784 424
South American Agency Ltd. T/A SAA Logistics0208
Sovereign Cargo Ltd01323
Spectrum Forwarding Ltd0208 440
Speedlink International Logistics028
Spica Logistics Ltd07493 456
Spray Shipping Ltd01394 676
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce01782 202
StartUp Overseas44 (0)117
Steder Group UK0141 648
Stone Logistics Ltd0161 905
Straight Freight Ltd44 (0) 1784
Sumitomo Warehouse (Europe)44 (0) 207 265
Sunbury Warehousing & Logistics Limited+44 (0) 1932 450
Superior Freight Services (UK) Ltd01753
supreme freight44 (0)23 8072
Surrey Chamber of Commerce01483 735
Sussex Chambers of Commerce01444 259
T E Shipping Ltd01708
t.ward shipping0131 554
T/A Customs Clearance UKMobile: 079991 90688
TCB Group Ltd028 95 608 444
Team Global Limited01753
Telenet Global Logistics Ltd01753
TFS Cargo Services Ltd0208 890
TGF Unique Ltd0208 818
TGT Customs Consulting440
Thames Valley Chamber Of Commerce Group01753
The Jamar Group01392 410
Thermotraffic UK Limited020 8596
Thos E Kettlewell & Son Ltd01405
Toga Freight Services Ltd (Ireland)+353 1 630
Toll Global Forwarding Group UK Limited0208 893
TPS Global Logistics Ltd01622 237
TQ Express0161 437
TR Logistics Group02890 373
Trafertir International Transport Ltd01268 247
TrailerTrans (Europe) Limited01469 577
Trans Global Freight Management Ltd01932
Transland Group0044 1543
Transland International UK Ltd01543
Tudor Freight0208 831
Turquoise Logistics Ltd012277
Tuscor Lloyds Ltd0161 868
U Freight UK Ltd01932
UK Customs Solutions LTD01394 334
UK Import Services Limited0345 309
UK Postings Worldwide01844 398
Uneek Forwarding Ltd44 208 984
Uniexpress Ltd01274
Unisystems Freight (UK) Ltd01376 518
Universal Delivery Solutions Ltd0208 848
Universe Logistics0203 004
Unsworth0208 988
Vantec World Transport (NL) BV0161 498
Velta International Ltd01376 505
Viamaster International Ltd0113 259
Viking Shipping Services Ltd01757 606
Vikstar Limited+44 (0) 20
Viva Xpress Logistics (UK) Ltd+ 44 (0)1753
W E Dover Ltd01304 249
W. Saunders (Shipping & Forwarding) Ltd 01394
Wainwright Bros & co Ltd02380
Wallis Shipping Services Ltd01206
Warrant Group Limited0151 955
WBC Export Packaging Limited01773
Widem UK Limited01788
Wilder Logistics (Felixstowe) Ltd01473 655
Wilder Logistics Ltd01753 681
Wine and Spirits Trade Association0207 089
Wineflow Clearance Ltd01304 273
Wirral Chamber of Commerce0151 650
WM International Ltd0121 327
Woodland Global+44 1245
Woodland Global Ltd01245 619
Woodside Global02893
World Cargo Logistics Limited0161 302
World Cargo Logistics LTD07931
World Freight Consultants Ltd01375
World Transport Agency Ltd01394
World Transport Agency Ltd07771 796
Worldwide Energy Logistics Limited0208
Worldwide Logistics Group020
WS Logistics Ltd01394 272
WTC Logistics UK Limited01268
X One Wholesale Ltd01753
XPand Logistics Ltd01784 431
XPO Global Forwarding UK Ltd01753 686
YFT Logistics Ltd02380
Yorkshire Shipping Ltd01482
Your Logistics Company Ltd0203 058
Zenith International Freight Ltd01274
Ziegler UK Ltd01753
ZigZag Global Ltd (Returns)0203 286
Zygo Limited01394 671

What is a freight forwarder?

If you’re already doing business abroad, you’ve likely heard of freight forwarders before. They promise to take much of the stress out of international shipping – and deal with all aspects of the transportation and delivery of your goods. In most cases they’ll also deal with customs clearance. But do you really need to use a freight forwarder for your shipment? Or is it an unnecessary waste of cash?

A freight forwarder is an individual – or, more likely, a company – which arranges for goods to be transported from one place to another.

While this might sound straightforward enough, there is in fact a whole lot which goes on behind the scenes to make sure that product delivery you’re expecting makes it safely from your supplier to your office. A good freight forwarder, however, will make the process look seamless, efficient and simple.

>See also: Freight forwarder: Everything you need to know

What does a freight forwarder do?

A freight forwarder will take control of getting your shipment from its origin to your store, home or office. That can involve any or all of the following steps:

  • Arranging transport from the origin – such as your supplier’s factory or warehouse – to the port or airport for shipment
  • Preparing documents, licenses and all relevant paperwork for export at the point of origin
  • Negotiating, booking and loading cargo for sea or air freight
  • Setting up insurance and tracking delivery as needed
  • Preparing documents, licenses and all relevant paperwork for UK customs authorities
  • Arranging haulage and delivery to your agreed location in the UK

Often, it’s not the freight forwarder themselves carrying out many of the steps listed above. They’ll often subcontract things like local haulage to a partner based in your supplier location, for example. But what makes a freight forwarder helpful – and often crucial – is that they have the contacts across the globe to find the right person needed to get the job done, whether you’re importing from Sao Paulo or Shanghai.

Having a skilled freight forwarder will cost you in upfront fees – but it should make the import process run smoothly and reduce the risk of any unforeseen costs or nasty surprises.

What are the advantages of using a freight forwarder?

  • You’ll only need to deal with one person to arrange your shipment, rather than several different haulage and freight companies
  • Many freight forwarders are experts in import/export paperwork, and can help you navigate the complex processes involved
  • With their local connections, freight forwarders can find service providers all over the globe to complete your shipment
  • Freight forwarders can negotiate on shipping, haulage and warehousing costs on your behalf
  • Using a freight forwarder offers peace of mind – if something goes wrong, or you need to submit an insurance claim, they should be able to help out

Where can I find a freight forwarder?

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has a location-based search engine for its freight forwarder members and their specialisations.

What is a fast parcel operator?

Fast parcel operators can help you move documents, parcels, and freight across the world within a specific time frame. They can even handle customs clearance for you, provided you give them written instructions. The instructions must clarify whether these agents are acting for you directly or indirectly.

Where can I find a fast parcel operator?

The Government has published a list of authorised fast parcel operators ahead of Brexit, and that list is continually updated

Where to find a fast parcel operator

NamePhone numberEmail address
512 (Doncaster) Limited01302
512 Sheffield Ltd01709
Abacus Express Logistics Ltd01753
Active Freight Management Limited01784
Air Sea Logistics
Alinnza Trading London Ltd07840 191
Allseas Global Logistics0161 272
Andrews Shipping & Fwdg Ltd0208 805
Aquarius Airfreight Services Ltd0208 814
Aramex UK Ltd01753 210
ASM Freight Services Ltd020 8572
Atlantic Pacific Global Logistics Ltd01268 582
Aviation Support Ltd01753 757
Aztek International Freight Limited01268 286
B&H Worldwide Ltd02087 595
Barker & Hood Ltd01206
Blaiklock Limited01932
Bluewater Shipping UK Ltd01224 771
Bolloré Logistics UK Ltd020 7897
Bridges Logistics & Fulfilment Ltd0208 467
Bronel Group Limited44 1268
Brunswick International – Liverpool0151 933
Bullet Express Ltd0330 102
Caledonian Freight Ltd01324 472
Cavalier Logistics UK LTD0203 887
CBI Global Freight Management Ltd0161 870
Clear Fr8 Ltd01304 806
CMI Logistics limited01274
Company Trafertir Group01268 247004
Cool Cargo Logistics Ltd020 8577
Cosmotrans International Ltd020 8751
Courier Network Ltd01753
Crane International Freight Ltd01234 742
Crossflight Limited01753 776
CS Brunt Freight Services Ltd0161 872
Davies Turner & Co Ltd03300 301
Davies Turner Air Cargo Ltd01753 680
DHL Express01332
DPD group UK0121 275
EFS Logistics Limited01282
Embrace Global Logistics Ltd0161 279
ETL Logistics Limited44 (0)
Euronox Limited+44(0) 208 434
Eurosprint Freight Services0121 785
FedEx Express03456 07 08
Fenix Freight Limited0121 222
Flight Logistics Group Ltd – ShipArt01753 763
Freight Logistics Solutions01633 288
G.B. Agencies Ltd01472 246
Gemini Freight Management Ltd01322 374
Globexair0208 897
Gondrand UK0208 526
Greencarrier Freight Services (UK) Ltd01469
Gwynedd Shipping Limited01407
I C Shipping Limited0121 502
Immingham Transport Ltd07710 703
In Time Worldwide Express Limited0345 258
Invictus Global Logistics Limited01634 540
Isca Forwarding Ltd01392
Jeavons Eurotir Ltd0121 201
John Pipe International+44 2380
Kalantha07399 308
Ken Hill Freight Services Ltd01530
Kingscote Rojay Limited01429
Landmark Global0207 042
Leman International Transport01924
LHR Global Logistics Ltd0208 283
Lincoln Maritime Limited+44 (0)
LV Shipping & Transport44 0
Maina Couriers Ltd0 44
Mapcargo International Ltd01753 255
Mark 3 International01753 683
Merzario Ltd01277 363
Metro Shipping Limited0121 717
Mission Control Ltd01373 800
MSK Logistics Ltd   01293 400540    Sales@MSKLOGISTICS.COM
NamePhone numberEmail address
Nemcast International Ltd01753
Neptune Shipping Agency Ltd01579 386
NMC Global Logistics Limited+44 1394
Noatum Logistics UK Ltd44 (0) 1784
Norsk European Wholesale Ltd01753 800
NTEX Ltd01469 570
NTI UK INC. (Nankai Express Co Ltd.)020 3793
OCS Worldwide0207 640
One World Express Inc Ltd0208 860
One World Logistis UK Limited01753
Orbis International Ltd+44 (0)1636
PDQ Specialist Courier Services0800 046
Prime Express Cargo & Couriers Ltd44 20 8573
Quality Freight Services Ltd0161 820
Quest Freight Ltd020 8890
Radius Logistics UK Ltd+44 (0)
RIF Worldwide Plc01932 753
RJJ Freight Ltd01394 695
Rohlig Logistics0121 745
Royale International Couriers Ltd0208 890
SAFCO Services Ltd01473
Seabrook Export Services Ltd0203 288
Shuttle Bridge Logistics Ltd020 3137
Spectrum Forwarding Ltd0208 440
Speedlink International Logistics028
SpeedLink Transport Limited44 208 037
Spica Logistics Ltd07493
Superior Logistics01753 689
Team Global Limited01753
The Courier Company (UK) Limited08700 116
TLC World Logistics020 8750
TNT0800 100
Toll Global Forwarding020 8818
TPS Global Logistics Ltd01622 237
TrailerTrans (Europe) Limited01469 577
Trans Global Freight Management Ltd01932
Universal Delivery Solutions Ltd0208 848
Universe Logistics0203 004
UPS03457 877
Vikstar Limited+44 (0) 20
Viva Xpress Logistics (UK) Ltd+44 (0)1753
WBC Export Packaging Limited01773
Wilder Logistics Ltd01753 681
X One Wholesale Ltd01753
XPand Logistics Ltd01784 431
Your Logistics Company Ltd0203 058
Zentrade Services Ltd07903 237
Ziegler UK Ltd01753
ZigZag Global Ltd (Returns)0203 286
Source: HM Government

Further reading

How to prepare your small business for a no-deal Brexit

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.