Upgrade to Chrome Upgrade to Firefox Upgrade to Internet Explorer Upgrade to Safari
31st March 2021

A post-Brexit guide to moving goods through Welsh ports

Trade from Ireland to Welsh ports has declined rapidly since January 2021, as Irish hauliers are avoiding the complicated new administration that comes with using UK ports due to the new trading arrangements.

As a result, Irish exporters are sending significantly more goods to the EU on new direct ferry services to France or Belgium, whereas before they would have caught a ferry to Holyhead, driven to the English Channel and used another ferry service to get to those countries.

In February, Welsh ferry ports volumes show a relative decline in ‘year-to-date volumes’ of 50% in Holyhead and 40% in the South West. 1

What is the UK land bridge?

The UK land bridge is when Irish hauliers use the UK as a bridge between them and countries in the EU, such as France. They get a ferry to Holyhead, drive across the UK to the English Channel and then use another ferry service to get to France, using the UK as a bridge between the two ferries.

The land bridge is the quickest way to transport freight; it takes less than 20 hours, compared to the 40-hour roll-on roll-off sea route and the 60-hour load-on load-off sea route. 2

It is the most practical option for Irish hauliers, so the choice to use a direct ferry over it due to the new administration process is significant.

What has changed?

A number of different checks are now required for goods entering the UK, which means border control posts (BCPs) have been established.

The replacement of this ‘land bridge’ route means that Welsh ports are experiencing a massive decrease in trade, as according to the Irish Marine Development Office there are usually around 150,000 truck crossings across the UK land bridge carrying trade worth an estimated £15.5 billion.

The biggest difference with the most significant effect on Irish hauliers is the increased customs and regulatory checks at Welsh ports, as they incur additional costs and increased transit times due to delays.

How to use the UK land bridge post-Brexit

The UK has signed up to the Common Transit Convention (CTC), which aims to preserve the land bridge and limit the number of new border checks for hauliers using it. To make things easier, Chambers Wales has outlined what is expected of businesses, depending on the final destination of goods:

For businesses delivering goods to the UK –

  • Have an accurate UK 10-digit commodity code in place for all items being exported into the UK
  • Be accurate about the origin of the goods – it will affect the amount of third country duty that is due on arrival
  • Supply all relevant safety documentation and check certificates e.g. for organic products, veterinary products and hazardous goods
  • Identify the additional costs that may come up to the UK buyer, due to origin or additional port charges
  • Identify the incoterms with all parties involved
  • Ensure the correct UK port of arrival is known to importer
  • Check if the transport of the goods is inventory linked or not – if the cargo is unaccompanied it may need to be claimed at port by a customs agent.

Transferring goods to the EU via the UK –

  • Origin of goods is vital
  • UK port of exit needs to be known by all parties
  • Use the export tariff to determine if any certificates or checks are needed on exit
  • Check the correct CPC code is being used in any export declaration, this can vary depending on the end goal or if the goods are returning to the UK, including items that are being sent for repairs or samples of products
  • Have records of supplier and long-term supplier declarations.

Need more help?

If you need advice on dealing with Welsh ports, speak to the international team here at Chambers Wales: international@chamberswales.com


1 https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/pdf-versions/2021/3/3/1616594757/supporting-welsh-ferry-ports-5-point-plan.pdf

2 https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/trade-uk-landbridge

Our Partners


Subscribe to our mailing list to get a monthly update and to find out news that matters to you.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.