Logistics firms consider suspending UK-EU services to avoid post-transition delays

Tue 22 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Multiple logistics firms and parcel operators are preparing for possible disruption at the end of the transition period by considering the suspension of UK-EU freight routes.

The UK will leave the EU single market on 31 December 2020, leading to the introduction of new border controls.

The government’s worst-case scenario planning has indicated that the new customs requirements and checks faced by businesses and hauliers could lead to queues of up to 7000 lorries on the M20 in Kent.

DHL’s reversal

DHL is one logistics giant that has considered suspending some of its UK-EU services.

In an email to customers on 9 December – reported in the FT yesterday (21 December) – DHL said it would pause deliveries of food and plant products between the UK and EU in anticipation of delays at the start of next year.

The company has since reversed this decision.


The FT also reports that many UK businesses are worried about the prospect of goods being held up on route to the EU.

There are concerns that European customers will be presented with new demands for payments of duty and VAT on items that were ordered before January 1 but delivered after. The UK and EU is yet to agree a deal that remove tariffs on trade.

Model train company Hornby Hobbies and fashion retailer Jigsaw are two companies to have told the FT that they are suspending deliveries to Europe to avoid goods getting stuck in transit.

Affected NI services

Parcel operators are also considering the risk of delays on routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Under the NI protocol, traders moving goods from GB to NI will be faced with new administrative requirements from 1 January 2021, including the need to complete import declarations.

Parcel operators DPD and Parcel Motel have suspended their collection services between NI, GB and the Republic of Ireland in anticipation of these new rules leading to disruption, according to the BBC.

However, deliveries from NI to GB will not be affected, as declarations will only be required for these movements in very limited circumstances. 

Both parcel firms have indicated that they would look to adapt and reintroduce their usual services when there is more clarity about how trade between GB, NI and the EU will operate.