Tips on How to Ship Your Freight to Belgium

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By John Hayes, freelance writer.

Many UK businesses have – or would like to have – customers in Belgium. However, some companies are put off sending orders to Belgian customers because they worry about the administrative costs of doing so. This has always been a consideration but since the UK left the European Union's Customs Union, there has been an ever-greater level of red tape that British businesses have faced when organising freight to Belgium.

However, getting consignments to Belgium on time and at a reasonable cost is not as hard as you might think. Which tips will help you to organise consignments of goods to Belgium and the other Benelux countries?

Many UK businesses have – or would like to have – customers in Belgium. However, some companies are put off sending orders to Belgian customers because they worry about the administrative costs of doing so. This has always been a consideration but since the UK left the European Union's Customs Union, there has been an ever-greater level of red tape that British businesses have faced when organising freight to Belgium.

However, getting consignments to Belgium on time and at a reasonable cost is not as hard as you might think. Which tips will help you to organise consignments of goods to Belgium and the other Benelux countries?

Road Freight to Belgium Makes Sense For Most Businesses

You don't need to organise air freight to Belgium because road haulage routes are just as effective in most cases. Of course, Belgium lies at the heart of the EU so an international border will need to be crossed but this would be the case whether you shipped by sea, air or land routes. It should be remembered that even the capital, Brussels, is only about five-and-a-half hours from central London by road.

Logistically, that means about the same amount of fuel as a journey from central London to Sunderland or from Swansea to Hull. With clients that can be reached within a single day – so long as the shipment leaves early enough – express road transit to the whole country is possible from the UK.

Complete Customs Declarations Before Goods Are Despatched

Any finished goods or components leaving the UK for Belgium will need to be checked by EU customs officials. This is the case whether they arrive in the country via the ferry port of Zeebrugge or are sent to France and make their way to Belgium from Calais or Dunkirk. Either way, customs officers will need to see the same paperwork accompanying your consignment, telling them the country of origin and the class of goods as well as whether any duties need to be paid.

However, you don't need to organise all of this yourself because a customs clearance agent can do the work for you, thereby helping you to speed up your operation and avoiding potential administrative pitfalls. Make sure you choose one that has EU licenses in place for this work. Some agents only deal with imports to the UK but not exports.

Turn to a Freight Forwarder to Help

If you have an in-house distribution network, then you might want to use your own trucks and vans for making deliveries of freight to Belgium. However, this can sometimes cause disruption to your usual operations with domestic customers. Instead, using a professional freight forwarding firm can free up your own resources. According to one freight forwarding firm, Barrington Freight, it is a good idea to select a company that also offers customs clearance agency work.

This is because it will address two potential issues at once. Remember that freight forwarders won't just organise freight to Belgium on your behalf but can lower your delivery costs, too. Ask about groupage rates for non-urgent consignments, for example, because these are often much cheaper and to a nearby country, such as Belgium, they still get there within a few days anyway.

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