New customs processes for imports arriving in Ireland from the UK have been branded “illogical” and “disturbing” at the Oireachtas Brexit committee.
Business groups and freight companies have warned that multiple shipments are being held up at Irish ports because of issues with a single item on a trailer.
But the same stringent rules are not being applied to imports coming by air or deep sea as they are at shipping ports.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) said Revenue’s proposed solutions to the issue are “not practicable”.
If you have 40 different customers on your trailer, one shipment that has insufficient funds will hold up the other 39 customers' shipments from being delivered.Damien Roche, Roche Freight
TDs and Senators reacted with shock to the news, with Committee Chair Lisa Chambers saying she was “gobsmacked” and that the new system introduced post-Brexit was “so illogical”.
Damian Roche, of Roche Freight, explained that the issue relates to MRN numbers – unique customs identification numbers created each time a declaration is submitted for importing or exporting goods.
He told the Committee: “You think you have your VAT or duty paid in advance, because you’ve got your MRN entry number.
“But now what happens, 30 minutes out, Revenue are collecting the VAT and duty at that point. That could be after hours with ferries coming in after half six.”
Mr Roche said this creates issues because while payments can be made at any time, customers or their representatives are often uncontactable outside of business hours.
He added: “That means if you have 40 different customers on your trailer, one shipment that has insufficient funds will hold up the other 39 customers’ shipments from being delivered on the following day, because they’re held in customs until the money is paid.
“They’ve changed the format, which is still in place for shipments coming in by air and by deep sea.”
He added: “If another person clears goods for the same customer to a different port, an hour earlier than you clear the goods, that person could take the money you’ve arranged with the importer.”
I'm a bit gobsmacked actually hear that. That seems so illogical.Lisa Chambers
The revelation was greeted with shock by members of the Seanad Special Select Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on Monday.
Committee Chair and Fianna Fail Senator Lisa Chambers said: “I’m a bit gobsmacked actually hear that. That seems so illogical.
“Just even the fact that you’d have one customer, who might hold up everybody on the truck seems just bizarre, that that will be allowed to prevail as a long term situation.”
Mr Roche said he had been told by Revenue that the system had been changed because of a Union Customs Code Directive made at EU level.
But he added: “Clearly it’s illogical. Why can’t we have the same system as we always had, and why does air freight and deep sea freight not have that system?”
Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly said: “It’s very disturbing to hear that the arrangements of the Revenue are not adequate.
“That there’s not a facility to work after hours, and that the proposed solution from the Revenue is not adequate.
“I just think it’s disturbing disturbing and I think we need to respond to it in a very practical way.”