Ireland’s customs systems have struggled with IT issues that are causing delays in its trade with Great Britain, for whom Ireland is a major export destination.
With a huge increase in customs declarations from GB, Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners have apologised for delays caused by capacity issues with its IT systems.
Tom Talbot, the head of Revenue’s customs operations at Dublin Port, said it was working with its software provider to fix problems with Ireland’s Automated Import System (AIS) that had “caused major difficulties”.
The Irish Times reports that the UK’s fifth largest export destination had to process 1.8 million customs declarations in January – more than the 1.6 million it had for the whole of 2020.
Talbot said that the system was having to cope with bulk uploads of declarations for parcels which could now number 20,000 at one time with “one press of a button”. He pledged that solutions to the problem “will come quickly”.
The IT system has experienced several “glitches” in January, the Irish Times also reported. This meant traders were not issued with customs numbers (PBNs – Pre-Boarding Notification) that allow them to process their lorries through customs which saw some trucks delayed for days.
Volume was expected
According to the Times, the volume of increased declarations had been anticipated by Revenue and more that 20 million declarations are expected throughout the year
A significant increase in online businesses that ship large volumes of small consignments, has occurred since the start of the pandemic, Talbot added.
Since GB is now outside the EU customs union, goods sent to Ireland must have customs declarations.
In 2019, government figures put exports from the UK to Ireland at £40bn, and imports from Ireland at £30bn, giving a trade balance of £10bn. Ireland accounted for 5.8% of UK exports and 4.2% of all UK imports.