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How does a freight forwarding company work?

For companies that trade large quantities of goods in multiple countries and rely on seamless exporting and importing in order for a business to run smoothly, third party help when it comes to managing freight can be an essential tool. Taking care of everything from distribution and shipping tasks to completing tricky importing and exporting documentation on your behalf, help from outsourced experts can make the shipping and logistical aspects of your business much easier. This is where freight forwarding companies come in. 

But what exactly is a freight forwarding company? How do they work? And how can partnering with one benefit your business? In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of freight forwarding to answer all these questions and more, highlighting just how crucial these freight experts can be in your business’ overseas shipping operations.

a crane lifting up a cargo container in a port

What is a freight forwarding company?

In the simplest terms possible, a freight forwarding company is an organisation which arranges for goods to be safely and securely transported from one location to another. Acting as an intermediary or ‘middleman’ between the various stages and transportation services involved in long-distance shipping, these third party companies work with their clients to create tailored transport solutions based on timeframes, budgets and any special requirements.

While freight forwarding companies will not typically carry out shipments themselves, their value lies in their ability to establish and take advantage of the relationships they hold with a network of expert air, road, rail, and sea freight companies that can help your business create the most efficient routes possible for your goods. As each freight forwarding company has its own trusted contacts in each branch of the shipping industry – from road and rail haulage companies to airlines and transoceanic liners – they have the ability to negotiate the best possible prices. They can do this by simply using established commercial routes at knocked-down prices, or by using their connections to gain access to and/or create bespoke chartered routes that better suit your business’ logistical needs, without breaking the bank. 

While some businesses may not see the value of freight forwarding companies and view the shipment of goods from one location to another as a relatively simple process involving only two separate parties – the manufacturer/wholesaler and the final customer – it’s important to remember that shipping operations can become very complex. This is particularly true when it comes to documentation and VAT settlements involved with customs checks. For this reason, aside from taking care of the physical logistics of your business’ shipment needs, freight forwarding companies will also typically handle all of the paperwork required to legally import and export your goods, including any VAT declarations and customs clearance documentation needed in the port of each country/trade zone your goods may pass through on its way to its final destination. 

This process is usually much easier for freight forwarding companies than individual businesses, as most forwarders are recognised as Authorised Economic Operators. This allows them to take advantage of streamlined customs clearance procedures that individual businesses cannot enjoy, including the ability to defer the payment of import duties when necessary, ensuring goods are released promptly and not delayed or held-up in transit. This can be particularly useful if your business deals in perishable goods.

How a freight forwarding company works

The ways in which a freight forwarding company operates will vary depending on individual preferences as well as the specific services it offers. However, typically freight forwarding companies will follow a similar process. This will usually involve either all of, or a selected number of, the following procedural steps: 

  1. Prior to collection, your chosen freight forwarder will negotiate and book the best possible form of transport for your goods – be that sea, air, rail or road freight – based on the destination, budget and other specific requirements. At this point, specialist insurance and shipment tracking options may be set up as and when required. 
  2. Your freight forwarder will arrange to take control of your shipment from your requested origin location on an agreed date. This location can be a factory, warehouse, store, office, depot or private address. Checks will be completed at this stage to ensure all goods are itemised, packaged and labelled compliantly. The carriers selected by your forwarder will usually open your cargo to inspect it before resealing it for transit. This may also be repeated at various checkpoints throughout the journey. 
  3. Before departure, additional goods checks will be made to ensure everything is in order and all relevant paperwork, export documentation and licences are prepared, ready for seamless inspections at UK customs authorities and each border checkpoint your shipment may pass through on its way to its final destination.
  4. At this point your goods will typically also be loaded onto their initial transport option by trained professionals. The pre-arranged carriers will then formally collect your goods and either start their journey by road or simply take the shipment to a carefully selected port or airport. 
  5. Throughout their journey, your goods will go through customs checks in each country or free-trade zone they pass through. This will involve customs agents inspecting your goods and ensuring all documentation is in order. As previously discussed, these processes will likely be quicker when you use freight forwarders who are recognised as Authorised Economic Operators.
  6. Finally, your shipment will arrive at its destination. At this point, a separate mode of transport – typically provided by a rail or road freight company, for example – may be needed to carry your shipment from its final port or airport destination to a distribution centre, factory, warehouse or store of your choice. This final leg of your shipment’s journey will also be arranged and overseen by your freight forwarding company.
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How to load a truck

When it comes to transporting road freight, efficiency matters. This is true at every phase of the process, from warehousing right through to delivery. In this article, we focus on loading. If time or space is mismanaged during this vital stage, you could end up wasting money, damaging goods and slowing down deliveries. Safety is paramount too. If you cut corners and overlook this important factor, your negligence could cause workers or members of the public to be harmed. You may also face legal action. 

Whether you want to ensure deliveries arrive at a distribution centre on time or safely maximise your vehicle capacity when shipping goods to retailers, read on for expert advice on how you can make truck loading a slicker process.

forklift operator using a forklift to load a pallet onto a truck

How to load heavy objects into a truck

First and foremost, you must make sure that the vehicle you’re using is safe to use and can take the weight of the goods that need to be hauled. You should inspect the condition of the truck, including your tyres, lights, brakes and anchor points. At Freightline Carriers, we have a fleet of vehicles of different sizes and can advise you on choosing the correct vehicle for your specific consignment.

Next, you must prepare for loading. This step is critical as nearly half of all driver-related injuries occur during loading and unloading. A risk assessment should be carried out to identify hazards and you should minimise the level of risk by adding control measures. You must ensure that the loading crew are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that everyone has been clearly briefed on their roles and responsibilities during the loading process. 

It’s important that the load is stacked against the headboard of the vehicle and the centre of gravity should always be as low as possible. You should also check that the freight is stable without the use of lashings. If the consignment could move about or topple over, you should consider ways to make it more secure. For example, you might put the goods in pallets or boxes. Once the load is stable, you need to secure it to the chassis of the truck using adequate load restraints, such as chains or webbing straps, Items or pallets that weigh more than 400kg should be secured with lashings, load-rated nets or tarpaulins with integral straps.

The type of loading equipment you will need will depend on the freight you are hauling. You may need forklifts, lifting slings, ramps or electric pallet jacks, for example. In the next section, we will look at how a forklift can be used for loading.

How to load a truck with a forklift

Using a forklift to load a truck is a high-risk activity so it is vital that care is taken when undertaking this job. The process usually involves a delivery driver and a forklift operator, however,  it is the delivery driver who is responsible for ensuring their vehicle is safe. They should brief the forklift operator on where to place goods based on the vehicle’s load capacity and what order the goods need to be loaded in, if any. The forklift driver, on the other hand, is responsible for actually loading the freight onto the truck and ensuring that it’s stable and secure. The delivery driver must not get physically involved in this part of the process.

Forklift operators must ensure that the loading vicinity is free of any pedestrians, including delivery drivers. They must make sure that the vehicle is on level ground and can be accessed easily from both sides. They must also check that the engine of the truck is off, the key has been removed from the ignition and that the brakes have been applied. They must make the driver aware that loading is about to commence, and they should check that the bed of the truck is free of any objects or debris. 

To minimise the likelihood of the truck capsizing, the forklift operator should start loading at the front of the vehicle and work their way to the back, alternating from one side to the other as they go. They should place the loads closely together as this helps to prevent the freight from moving around in the vehicle. Loading in this way also helps to maximise the carrying capacity of the truck. 

The operator must be suitably qualified to use a forklift and must always use the correct techniques for loading. For example, they should

  • Be fully aware of their surroundings before attempting to load
  • Make sure the load doesn’t exceed the forklift’s recommended weight
  • Adjust the width of the forks so that they are as wide as possible for the load
  • Ensure the load is evenly balanced on the forks
  • Insert the fork all the way under the load
  • Be careful not to move the forklift while raising or lowering the load
  • Tilt the load back a little to prevent it from tipping forwards
  • Never abandon the vehicle while a load is raised. 

If appropriate, the operator should load the vehicle in order of delivery by putting the first deliveries to be made on the vehicle last. This should be done to make the delivery stage safer and more efficient as it prevents gaps in the consignment and reduces the need to rearrange goods as they are delivered. However, operators must also ensure that the weight of the load is evenly distributed so may not always be able to work in delivery order. 

The operator must ensure that goods are loaded safely and are as stable as possible. However, the driver is responsible for ensuring the load is secure before transporting.

How to load a truck with pallets (10)

Pallets can be loaded using a forklift or a pallet jack. The loading crew should take all the precautions discussed above and make all the necessary checks before undertaking this job. 

There are various ways that pallets can be configured in a truck so arrangement must be carefully considered in order to reduce health and safety risks, prevent goods from being damaged, maximise the capacity of the vehicle and make the delivery process as efficient as possible. You must check that the consignment does not exceed the weight limit of the truck and calculate how many pallets you can fit in the vehicle before you begin. 

Here are the main ways that pallets can be arranged:

  • Side by side – loading the pallets so that the short ends face forwards and backwards
  • Turned – loading the pallets so that the long ends face forwards and backwards
  • Pinwheeled – loading the pallets so that half the pallets are turned and half are side by side

However pallets are arranged, they must not exceed the maximum payload or axle weights of the vehicle.

Before loading, pallets must be thoroughly inspected for signs of damage or weakness. They shouldn’t be loaded if they are not strong enough to carry the load on them.

Pallets should be packed together closely to prevent sliding. Lashings should also be used to restrain them if there are spaces between the pallets or between the pallets and the headboard or the vehicle sides.


Loading goods can be a dangerous job and should only be undertaken by trained professionals. For expert help with road freight, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

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What does Brexit mean for UK companies?

With Brexit having officially come into effect at the start of 2021, new rules have altered the way many processes happen for a wide variety of industries that trade between the UK and the EU. From these industries, UK businesses have had to suffer worry, confusion and uncertainty over how dealing with the EU could impact their company and whether it could cause any significant damage.

In an effort to calm these concerns, this blog looks at how Brexit will affect UK companies, breaking down both positive and negative side effects of the change.

How will Brexit affect UK companies?

For any UK business that imports or exports goods to or from the EU, Brexit is bound to have an impact. In some cases, it could negatively affect how businesses run and the ability to keep customers and service users loyal. However, in many other cases, it could also pose a number of significant benefits that could improve the service they provide.

Below, we’ve separated the implications of Brexit that could negatively and positively affect UK companies:

A business discussing the impact Brexit could have.

Why is Brexit bad for business?

Reasons why Brexit may be bad for UK businesses that trade with the EU include:

Major changes to import / export

Even before Brexit was confirmed, it was predicted that the flow of goods between the UK and EU nations could be disrupted. For UK businesses, it’s important to have assurances in place that guarantee no significant delays to the movement of goods – like those seen in January 2021 – or any hefty charges occur. In an effort to prevent business from being hindered by potential restrictions caused by Brexit, many companies stockpiled resources in preparation. However, in reality, businesses in the UK and EU countries are unlikely to be impacted providing core relationships are maintained.

It could be that many UK business owners are worrying about their ability to continue trading as usual following Brexit, particularly with new trading rules and additional charges in place. Although many of the rules in regards to moving goods between the UK and the EU have changed, the fact that the UK government agreed a trade deal with the EU means that trade without tariffs could continue. However, for UK businesses to trade with countries within the EU, they must apply for an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number, as well as an EORI number for the country they’re trading with.

Restrictions for EEA members of staff

UK businesses have often utilised a mix of skilled migrant and British workers. But with the freedom of movement now ended, it will be more difficult for European Economic Area (EEA) members of staff who’ve been working in the UK to continue to do so.

Under the new rules, visa eligibility for EU and non-EU migrants will be based on a point based system. In this structure, 50 points will be based on a job offer from an approved employer sponsor and 20 points will be based on multiple factors, with 70 points needed for eligibility. Since the Brexit referendum, there’s been an estimated 70 per cent drop in EU migration, and as it’s harder to qualify to work following the change to rules, it’s expected that many businesses will opt to minimise the amount of staff they have and upskill their current employees.

Unconfirmed trade deals with certain countries

Fortunately, the UK government has agreed on trade deals with many countries including Cameroon, Chile, Egypt, Iceland, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Morocco, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine and Vietnam to name a few.

While trade deals are in place for a broad selection of countries, as things stand, the UK government hasn’t yet been able to establish deals with specific countries including Australia, Japan and the United States of America. It’s expected that trade deals for the remaining countries will be confirmed in the coming months, but in the meantime, businesses that trade to these countries may struggle to do so.

What are the benefits of Brexit to UK businesses?

Between having to adapt to new ways of working and facing uncertainty in some areas that haven’t yet been confirmed, it can be a worrying time for UK businesses. However, it also poses many promising benefits. They include:

Adapting to modern commerce

Many believe that the EU is in a poor state, and as Eurozone’s GDP was below its pre-crisis peak in the first quarter of 2015, there’s reason to believe that there’s truth behind these claims. If this is true, leaving the European market could give UK businesses more freedom and allow them to flourish in ways they may be unable to do if they remained as part of the EU.

Broader employment options

As with the previously mentioned negative that Brexit could limit the ability for UK businesses to hire or retain migrant workers, operating as a non-EU business could extend the number of non-EU employees they could consider hiring. In some instances, a highly skilled worker may be restricted by EU rules. But by not operating as an EU nation, a business could hire this employee that may otherwise be ineligible.

Growth in a variety of markets

By no longer operating within the European market, UK businesses aren’t limited by the rules, potentially broadening their horizons. In the case of countries like China and India who operate outside of the European Union, growth into new, profitable markets has mostly been positive, so the same opportunity is there for UK businesses.

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How will Brexit affect the shipping industry?

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, many different industries are likely to undergo significant changes as they adapt to a new way of operating. In some cases, it could offer a multitude of benefits, but for the shipping industry, for instance, it’s concerning that Brexit could cause delays and incur unexpected charges.

In an attempt to settle worries and explain the reality of the situation, this blog delves into how Brexit will affect the shipping industry and how the cost of shipping could be impacted.

Will Brexit affect shipping?

Due to the impact Brexit will have on borders and the movement of goods in and out of Europe, shipping will be significantly affected. Not only that, but the change is likely to infringe on both businesses and customers. Fortunately, however, it won’t impact shipping with every country as the UK has deals in place with many non-EU countries.


A warehouse worker preparing items for shipping under new Brexit rules.

How will Brexit affect shipping?

Although it could be argued that the overlying changes Brexit will have on shipping are primarily based on the time it takes and the cost of shipping, there are a number of factors that will cause these problems. They include:

Further information required for export shipments

In order for goods coming from the UK to pass through to an EU country, a wider selection of information must be provided. Along with expected details such as both the sender and recipient’s names, addresses and contact details, other more in-depth details such as the country of origin and the value, quantity and weight, will now also be required.

British businesses will also need an eight-digit commodity code for all items as well as an Economic Operator Registration (EORI) number to trade goods to and from the UK. HMRC provide this number upon request, but businesses are also required to apply for an EORI number from the European country they’re trading to, and any businesses operating from an EU nation will need to request an EORI number to export goods to the UK. 

Stricter border control and customs

Delays are often expected with shipments being made between separate countries. However, through Brexit, border control and customs will be more extensive, time consuming and require additional documentation.

As a result, the cost of shipping is likely to increase and the efficiency of the entire process could suffer. For many businesses, using a freight forwarder may be the natural solution as it means putting someone experienced in charge of all of these tasks. However, businesses will need to compare the cost of operating with or without a freight forwarder and decide whether or not it’s worth budgeting for.

Uncertain trade volumes

It’s predicted that there will be a temporary lull in the number of shipments between the UK and EU nations while Britain establishes itself within the global market. However, once this period ends and businesses are familiar with the new rules for trading with the EU, they can implement a structure for operating within this setup. But while this may allow them to trade as they used to, it’s likely to lead to an influx of shipments, causing a bottleneck and delaying a potentially vast number of deliveries.

What will happen to shipping costs when Brexit goes through?

With Brexit now enacted, many businesses and consumers may be concerned that the cost of shipping will skyrocket. Unfortunately, in some cases, shipping costs are four times more expensive post-Brexit.

However, it’s difficult to judge whether this is solely caused by the UK becoming separate from the EU as the coronavirus pandemic has also played a role in this change. For instance, in response to COVID-19, the French government opted to close the border in an effort to contain a new strain of the virus. But while this may have been the best decision in terms of protecting the health and wellbeing of people in the UK and France, it meant causing significant delays to road freight trucks.

It’s likely that the problem with shipping partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic was only a temporary issue, meaning it is still unclear whether further significant delays and hefty charges for purchasing items from the EU are set to continue. One of the conditions the UK government was able to agree with the EU was that there would be no additional charges on orders priced at £135 or less. Instead, the only charges will be for the cost of the item and postage and packaging, just as you would buying from the UK.

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How will Brexit affect freight forwarders?

Coming into action at the start of 2021, Brexit has had a big impact on the way the UK can trade with the EU and the rest of the world. Although this has affected multiple industries and many e-commerce businesses, it’s also significantly changed the way the freight industry and freight forwarders can operate.

In this blog, we explain how the changes to rules regarding freight caused by Brexit could impact the industry and freight forwarders as well as what that means for UK, European and worldwide logistics, and how freight companies may look to adapt to the change.

What Brexit means for freight

With the UK no longer being part of the EU, it also no longer operates within the single market or customs union. Instead, the UK government has established a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU.

In this agreement, the new rules for how freight processes can operate between the UK and Europe are outlined in thorough detail, with key sections including a partnership for security and new governance arrangements. It also includes a free trade agreement – a document that offers a number of benefits such as zero quotas and tariffs on all goods.

A freight forwarder discovering the extent to how Brexit has impacted logistics.

How will Brexit impact freight forwarders?

Although the trade and cooperation agreement between the EU and the UK is positive news for people within the freight industry, there are some changes that freight forwarders will need to pay special attention to.

Changes freight forwarders will need to adapt to include:

Import and export declarations

It’s predicted that Brexit could delay the process of bringing goods in and out of the UK. One of the new rules that could cause this delay is the requirement for freight forwarders to fill out customs declarations when importing and exporting goods.

They will also be required to fill out an exit summary declaration (EXS) for moving goods outside of the UK and an entry summary declaration (ENS) for moving goods into the country for security and safety reasons.

Licencing for importing and exporting

For a freight forwarder to bring certain goods into or out of the UK on the behalf of a company, they will need to apply for a special licence. For example, this is applicable for exporting chemicals, hazardous materials and waste. Although less strict, importing goods may require some form of licence for bringing in similar types of materials.

New rules of origin

Under the new rules, if goods being shipped don’t originate from the UK or EU, tariffs will apply. The new UK global tariff will replace the previous common external tariff, but the origin of the goods being shipped will be important to determining whether a freight forwarder will be required to pay tariffs on behalf of the customer. In comparison to the pre-Brexit rules, this is a significant change as there was previously a free flow of goods.

Obsolete trade agreements with non-EU nations

The UK leaving the EU not only means that the UK has now fallen out of agreements with EU member nations, but also the agreements EU nations have with other countries across the world such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Vietnam.

While the UK government finally agreed deals with a selection of non-EU nations at the start of 2021, there are many countries that the UK are currently unable to trade with. Although it’s hoped that an agreement will be made in the coming months, life could be difficult for freight forwarders at any point where a business in the UK looks to trade to or from a country that doesn’t have a trade agreement in place.

How many staff have freight forwarders recruited for Brexit?

As a result of Brexit, there are many new tasks and duties that freight forwarders have to carry out. Due to this, it’s expected that the process of shipping goods into or out of the UK could take significantly longer than it would prior to Brexit, and subsequently, freight forwarding companies have been said to be hiring an estimated 40,000 – 50,000 additional employees to speed up the process.

Other changes freight companies may need to consider as a way of adapting to the demands of Brexit include reassessing their processes to identify any areas that can be streamlined, adjusting their costing and time frames to reflect changes to the freight industry, and swapping the method of transportation if it means cutting costs and reducing delays. In some cases, freight forwarders may even go as far as changing geographical location to focusing solely on importing or exporting in specific countries that pose fewer restrictions.

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How an inventory management system works

In modern business, effective inventory management is a key factor in running a successful supply chain. Many businesses utilise inventories for a number of different reasons, but if they are not being managed properly, certain processes may not run smoothly, orders may be incorrectly organised, data could be lost, incomplete or inaccurate and the business may be spending more money or operating in a less efficient way than it otherwise could be.

A proven method of improving the effectiveness of inventory management – as well as related processes such as warehousing and distribution – is through implementing and sticking with a consistent inventory management system. In this blog, we explain what an inventory management system is, how it can help, what it can help with, the different types a business could consider using and how a business could begin to implement an effective inventory system.

What are inventory management systems?

Inventory management systems are structures that improve the ability to organise, track and monitor the supply chain. It encompasses every element of a business’ day-to-day operations, offers full transparency over the effectiveness of the supply chain and simplifies the ability to implement changes.

Two warehouse operatives using a digitised inventory management system.

What are the functions of inventory management systems?

A system that is designed to manage inventory is required to incorporate a potentially vast selection of different areas. But what exactly are these areas?

Primary functions of an inventory management system include:

  • Boost profitability
  • Better control stock
  • Enhance productivity and efficiency 
  • Ensure efficient time management
  • Improve quality of service
  • Increase effectiveness of supply and demand process
  • Organise supply chain process
  • Protect inventory
  • Reduce likelihood of stock-out and over-stock
  • Report on inventory
  • Track individual orders

What are the different types of inventory management systems?

While an inventory management system is an effective way of improving a business’ active supply chain, it isn’t a one size fits all process. Instead, there are different types of inventory management systems that work for different types of businesses. This could depend on the  size of a business or the specific industry it operates in. However, whatever a business’ specific circumstances, there will be a suitable inventory system that works for them.

Below, we’ve outlined a brief description of the primary inventory management systems.

Types of inventory management systems include:

Periodic inventory system

A traditional approach, a periodic inventory system is the process of physically counting all inventory items at specific, predetermined periods of time and recording this data in a written or digital database. The data from each time period can then be compared to determine whether new inventory is needed or any changes could be made to improve the supply chain process.

An advantage to this approach is that it’s tried and tested, and as it doesn’t necessarily require advanced technology, it’s quick and cost effective to implement. Automation is a common theme for many business processes, but a benefit that many business owners find with a periodic inventory system is that it is traditional and doesn’t rely on technology, allowing them to be in complete control.

Perpetual inventory system

Updating inventory data as soon as any changes are made or new stock is added. A digital computer programme is then used to identify when these changes happen and store all inventory data. Using a digitised system also means that barcode scanners or radio frequency identification tags can be utilised to improve the tracking and tracing of every inventory item.

Through using an entirely computerised system for inventory management, a business is given the benefit of data being accurate, precise and reliable. It also offers automation, allowing members of staff who may have otherwise had to store and update information manually to focus their attention to other tasks. Not only does this help small businesses that need to utilise the time of each staff member effectively, but also large businesses that have a lot of inventory, orders and data to manage.

Why use an inventory management system?

In a setting that uses any level of inventory – whether it’s various parts for manufacturing products or items that are being sold as part of an e-commerce business – an effective management system is fundamental to a functioning supply chain. Depending on the system a business chooses, key functions can be automated, reducing the likelihood of human error.

With all data on one platform, it can also simplify many previously complicated processes and make it far easier to identify any areas that the supply chain is lacking. Once these changes are recognised, an inventory management system facilitates the opportunity to implement potentially impactful and cost effective changes that could be valuable to the business.

How to implement an inventory management system

Many modern businesses will have some form of inventory management system. It could be the case that a business doesn’t have an inventory system in place, but as it can help with the organisation, effectiveness and efficiency of a supply chain, it would be worth considering.

However, the decision to start using an inventory system is only the first step. Investing in an effective inventory management system is something that takes a lot of thought and research. But first, there are several factors that need to be considered. For instance, in order for an inventory system to work, a business needs to have a warehouse or another storage facility that can be used as a basis for organising and managing inventory. It would also help to compile business data for all forms of inventory so it’s ready for adding to the system. At this point, the most suitable strategy can be chosen based on the business’ specific needs, requirements and processes.

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How will Brexit affect logistics?

At the start of 2021, the Brexit transition period came to an end altering the relationship between the UK and Europe, and changing the way goods are transported between the two areas. But despite the seemingly endless talks between the UK and the EU, the actual impact Brexit has had on how the logistics industry operates is still far from clear.

Below, we explain the predicted impact Brexit will have on European logistics and outline the considerations UK businesses that ship to and from the EU will have to bear in mind when it comes to import and export logistics in the future.

How will Brexit impact logistics?

With Brexit affecting borders, transportation and multiple aspects of how goods are transported every day, there are many different changes that will alter the way the logistics industry functions. Not only that, but the impact of Brexit could lead to more time needed for processes that were previously quicker and more money spent on tasks that used to be cheaper.

Changes to logistics caused by Brexit may include:

  • Delays at borders
  • Increase to fuel price
  • Increase to the cost of wages
  • Longer delivery times
  • More custom checks and inspections
  • Reduced trade
  • Stricter border control

A UK freight lorry arriving at customs in the EU

How will Brexit affect import and export logistics?

For logistics companies, an understandable concern with the introduction of Brexit is how it could impact how import and export logistics is carried out. Transporting goods to other countries in the EU is something that happens every day, and if a period of adjustment to Brexit could mean restrictions to this process, logistics companies throughout Britain may be significantly affected.

When it comes to import and export logistics, UK businesses need to bear in mind:


Depending on the goods being transported, you may need a specific export licence as the EU and individual companies require clearance before certain items enter. For example, consumables would need an export health certificate, undergo additional checks and be entered into the EU through a specified border inspection post (BIP).

Commodity/tariff codes

For exporting goods to the EU, specific codes need to be shown on custom documents. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System has all of the codes you may need to move goods from the UK to the EU, so you will need to make sure that you’re using the correct codes or face additional tariffs.

Documentation for transport

With the UK no longer being a part of the EU, the transportation routes may be changed and more limited than they were before. Drivers will also need to carry export licences, an ATA Carnet document for moving goods out of the UK temporarily and a TiR Cabinet document if goods are being moved in a sealed compartment.

As crossing the border in and out of the EU as a non-EU country has become more restricted, drivers will be forced to provide documentation regarding their vehicle such as insurance, tachograph charts, confirmation that the vehicle is approved for crossing into the EU and details for how the vehicle is secured with a thorough checklist provided.

EORI numbers

If they don’t already have one, UK businesses will be required to obtain a UK Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number from HMRC to trade goods to and from the UK. They will also need to obtain a UK EORI from the custom authority of the European country they trade with to move goods in and out of the EU.

Likewise, businesses in the European Union will need to apply for a UK EORI to transport goods to and from the UK.

Product labelling

It’s always true that products should be labelled correctly, but with Brexit impacting logistics, items need to reflect that they’re coming from the UK – a now third country location – and not the EU. Due to this, goods from the UK should no longer be given an EU label.


Due to Brexit, the price of shipping has increased, with import VAT being charged on items valued above £135, but exported goods being given zero-rate VAT. For UK businesses, it’s important that this is understood and they decide a way to account for this increase in price. Options include giving customers the chance to pay VAT and duties at the point of purchase or charging the same price but leaving customers to pay VAT and duties when their items arrive.

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How to manage inventory

For any business that uses a warehouse or storage facility to maintain stock, inventory management is a crucial process that, if done well, improves the effectiveness of the supply chain. By implementing an inventory management process that works, businesses can ensure that the items they need are available when a purchase is made and materials are available for products to be manufactured. In turn, customers won’t see a significant delay to orders, the reputation of the business will remain intact and the supply chain will run as smoothly as possible.

A fully functioning inventory management process is a key part in the running of a business of any size. As such, it’s important that business owners analyse their own to ensure that it’s not lacking in any area that could cause harm to their supply chain, their business or their reputation. In this blog, we explain the core objectives of inventory management before offering advice on managing inventory and how you can improve the inventory management process.

What are the objectives of inventory management?

The primary objective of inventory management is to ensure that business processes involving inventory are operational in the most effective

way possible. It’s also important that the finances around inventory management are monitored in such a way that the optimum service is provided without overspending unnecessarily. However, other objectives to inventory management include:

  • Aligning with sales activities to avoid financial loss
  • Avoiding overstocking or understocking
  • Building a consistent structure to benefit the ordering process
  • Carrying out both short and long-term planning using relevant data
  • Centralising purchasing
  • Controlling cost of materials
  • Ensuring continuous availability of in-demand inventory
  • Meeting customer demands
  • Minimising losses from damages, deterioration, pilferage and wastage
  • Monitoring fluctuation in the value of the stock to keep prices reasonable.

A warehouse worker managing inventory by scanning item barcodes.

How do you manage your inventory?

As the previously mentioned range of objectives suggest, managing inventory incorporates a number of duties and considerations.

A typical inventory management process is as follows:

  1. Based on the service you provide, determine what goods you need. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, identify the materials you need to make products, or if you sell pre-made goods, focus on having enough stock to sell to customers.
  2. Conduct market research to understand which items are selling and which aren’t. After you’ve done this, use your findings to decide what items you need and which items may not be valuable enough to keep.
  3. Work out the quantity of items you need in your inventory, the cost of delivery for these items and the storage space they use up. Facilitate more stock and storage for items that are more in-demand, and less for items that aren’t.
  4. Calculate a minimum stock level, and when your stock reaches this level, use it as an indication that you need to replenish. You can then identify how long it usually takes for stock to drop and preempt replenishment.
  5. Order items in your warehouse based on demands, with more in-demand items at the front, allowing for quicker shipping.
  6. Use a manual or computerised system to note down specific information about all item details such as name, description, value, location in the warehouse and supplier. You can then keep track of how long it takes for the supplier to provide these items and monitor stock to know when to replenish.
  7. Apply suitable security tags to all items in your inventory as a way of guarding against thieves. For additional theft prevention measures, ensure that the warehouse is secure and only authorised people are allowed in.
  8. Use an electronic programme for scanning barcodes on each item as a way of tracking sales automatically and keeping tabs on stock more easily.

How to improve inventory management process

If you have an existing inventory management process but believe it isn’t entirely effective, you may want to consider ways to improve it. Below, we’ve outlined some factors you should look at that could benefit your inventory management process:

Data analysis –

Using real-time data can help you to understand the inventory management process from an organisational level and see whether or not it’s performing as it should be. At this point, an inventory manager can choose to alter different aspects of the inventory management process depending on their findings.

Mobile management –

Technology is frequently regarded as a crucial tool for bringing traditional processes into the 21st century and, in turn, boosting results. One way of utilising technology effectively is by using a mobile application. Through this type of technology, you can keep track of inventory, document product details, pricing, offers and promotions, and monitor real-time order status and changes to stock.

Segmentation –

By breaking down your existing inventory management process, you can analyse every part, identify what works and what doesn’t, and make changes based on these observations. Carrying out this process could mean minimising operational costs, maximising profits, removing unneeded components and boosting efficiency.

Tools –

With technology constantly evolving, inventory management is made easy with platforms, programmes and tools that automate many of the tasks that were previously conducted by human operators. Bringing one, or several, of these elements into your inventory management process could mean cutting costs, speeding up processes and allowing employees to work on other, more pressing tasks.

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The UK’s top importers pre-Brexit and future opportunities

Brexit has given rise to confusion and concern among businesses and consumers alike where importation is concerned. While the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is available for all to read, the reality of what the deal means is yet to be fully understood by a lot of British businesses and customers. 

With many asking what the future of UK trade will look like, we’ve created a map of Britain’s traditional trade partners (based on information from the Office for National Statistics for November 2019 and November 2020) and highlighted opportunities that could be exploited despite the challenges that Brexit presents.

Top importers to the UK

So, which countries were the top importers to the UK pre-Brexit? 



Germany sits at the top of the table, having moved £30,875.83 million worth of goods to the UK between November 2019 to November 2020. This European Union (EU) country was one of the UK’s largest overall trading partners between January and June 2020, coming second only to the United States.


China was the second biggest importer between November 2019 and November 2020. In total, the East Asian country imported £22,953.33 million worth of goods during this period. China was the UK’s fifth largest trading partner in the first half of 2020.

United States

In third position, the UK’s top trading partner, the United States exported £16,056.82 million worth of goods to Britain in the twelve months from November 2019.


Coming in fourth place, the Netherlands sent £13,268.46 million worth of goods to the UK in this period. This EU country also ranks in fourth position when it comes to overall trading with the UK.


The UK imported £10,069.62 worth of goods from Norway, making this non-EU member European country our fifth largest importer during this timeframe. 

Future opportunities

Pre-Brexit, the UK benefited from any trade deal the EU had made with a non-EU country. When Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020, the EU had approximately 40 trade deals in place across 70 countries.

The UK has negotiated deals with 63 of these countries that will enable us to continue trading in the same way as before. 

The UK signed its first major trade deal as an independent trading nation with Japan in October 2020. The agreement is designed to benefit British businesses and citizens in a way that the EU deal did not, particularly in relation to digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries. 

The government has also announced that it would apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade deal with 11 Asia and Pacific countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. 

Separate talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand to agree on new trade deals that should pave the way for closer trade relationships with these countries.

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A simple guide to importing your goods into the UK

Importing goods into the UK from other countries may seem like a complex process at first – and you may feel even further confused by how it works in the post-Brexit and COVID-19 world that we’re currently living in. However, as long as you understand the basics and follow the correct procedures that are currently in place, you should find that you’re still able to move your goods with ease. 

To get yourself up-to-date on the latest process, check out our handy guide which includes tips on how you can make importing your goods into the UK go smoothly from start to finish.

Get an EORI number

In order to import goods between England, Scotland and Wales and other countries, you’ll need to get an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number that begins with GB. To move goods between Northern Ireland and other countries, you will need a EORI that begins with XI.

You can apply for an EORI number via the government website. It takes around five to 10 minutes, and you should be given your EORI number straight away. This may take a little longer if you are applying for an EORI number beginning with XI, or if HMRC need to carry out more checks.

Decide who will make your customs declarations and transport your goods

In order to import goods, you will need to figure out how to physically transport them into the country, and you will need to fill out the relevant customs declaration documentation too. You can find the documents you need on the government website.

You can make your custom declarations and organise to transport your goods yourself. However, most businesses hire freight and logistics companies to do this on their behalf. For example, you could use a freight forwarding company, such as Freightline Carriers, to help you move your goods and assist you in making the appropriate customs declarations.

If you enlist the help of someone else to help, they can either act as a direct or indirect representative of you, but it’s important to note that they cannot act on your behalf if they do not have written instruction from you. This instruction may be required by HMRC as evidence of authorisation, so it’s vital that you have it in place.

It’s also important to note that from January 1st 2021, if you hire someone to deal with customs on your behalf, you will need to make sure that they are established in the UK. 

Find out the commodity code for your goods

When it comes to completing your import declaration documentation, you’ll need to include the commodity code for your goods. Usually a long string of numbers, a commodity code classifies your goods for import, and  determines the import VAT and rate of duty you need to pay and if you will need an import licence.

If you have enlisted the help of a company to manage your imports, they may be able to assist you in finding the commodity codes for your goods. Alternatively, you can refer to the government website to find the right code.

importing goods

Calculate your goods value

To help work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay, you will need to calculate your goods value and declare this on your import documentation. There are six different methods of working out the value of your goods, all of which are explained in detail on the government’s website.

Check the tariff rates that apply to goods you import

It’s important to check the tariff rates that apply to the goods you’re importing too. The UK Global Tariff (UKGT) applies to any goods that are imported in the UK, although there are some exceptions. For example, it does not apply if the country you’re importing from has a trade agreement with the UK.

The tariff-rate quota (TRQ) may apply for certain products. If there is a TRQ in place for the products you want to import, you may be able to import a specific amount at a lower or even a zero customs duty rate, so it’s worth double checking.

At the moment, some tariffs and VAT have been removed on some products due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out which tariffs are subject to these relief measures online.

Check if you need a certificate or licence to import your goods

There are special rules in place for importing certain types of goods, such as animals, plants, high risk food, controlled drugs, hazard chemicals and much more. In order to import these items, you will need to check if you require a certificate or licence. If you fail to get the appropriate documentation, you may face a hefty fine, so it’s best to check first.

Get your goods through customs

At this point, if you’ve appointed someone to help you with your import declarations, they should then get your goods through customs. There are processes that can help your goods clear through customs quicker and easier if you plan on making import declarations regularly – this is known as a simplified declaration. 

Once your goods are ready to go through customs, you may need to arrange for them to be inspected before they are allowed through the UK border. You can find an inspection point on the government website. You will need to let the inspection point know when your goods are going to arrive, and you may also need to pay a fee.

Submit your import declaration and pay your fees

You will now need to submit your import declaration. You must do this within 90 days of your goods being presented to customs, and you will need to provide information such as the commodity codes in relation to the goods you’re importing, the departure point and destination, the type, amount and packaging of your goods, your transport method and costs, and any certificates or licences required.

At this stage, HMRC will also tell you how much you need to pay in terms of VAT and duty fees.

Organise for your goods to be released

You may find that your goods are held up at the border. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, your goods may not have passed the inspection stage, you do not have the right import certificate or licence or you have not paid the right amount of VAT or duty. If there is a problem with releasing your goods, you will be given instruction on what to do next. Once this has been resolved, your goods will be released and can be forwarded on to their final destination.

To learn about the importing process in more detail, get in touch with Freightline Carriers. Our experts are on hand to help assist you with the importing process every step of the way.

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