UK inland customs status granted to iPort Rail

iPort Rail terminal in the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster has been granted Authorised Economic Operator status by the British revenue service, HMRC. As a designated inland customs facility, it can now support goods moving in both directions through the Channel Tunnel. It is the first Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SFRI) in the UK to achieve the designation. Businesses in the North of England and the UK are set to benefit from this new status.

Critically, the new status means that businesses using its service can clear customs in South Yorkshire before delivering to UK customers or travelling to international markets. Yorkshire businesses should be among the first to benefit from a new Doncaster customs area, within the iPort Rail terminal, linked to the East Coast Main Line.

To support the inland customs facility service, iPort Rail has also secured Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status. The awards give confidence to trading customers that goods are cleared to a standard that at least meets HMRC requirements for overseas freight movements.

UK Border Force on site

Since its official royal opening in 2018, the backers of iPort Rail, development specialists Verdion, have sought to build on the in-built potential for rail freight at the 800 acre site (324 hectares). The new customs capability includes a temporary storage facility creating an approved area where inventory-linked goods under customs control can be held until they are released to free circulation, with duties charged on release. It also has an area for UK Border Force authorities to examine and take account of goods.

Anne, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, officially opened the iPort Rail strategic rail freight terminal in Doncaster in September 2018 (iPort Rail).

All this is good news for UK exporters, who have faced up to the changed realities of post-Brexit trade arrangements. With clearance carried out away from the coast, they can move goods with confidence. The added benefits of intermodal rail are already proving attractive. Currently, there are eight daily services to and from UK seaports, moving around 500 containers per day.

Reliable, efficient supply chains

The combined effects of Brexit and Covid have proved to Paul Bathgate, business solutions director at iPort Rail, that the terminal represents a reliable means of continuing trade under any circumstances. “We have seen in the past eighteen months how important it is to have reliable, efficient supply chains for import and export”, he said. “Rail freight to and from Doncaster is one way to help minimise disruption and cut carbon emissions at the same time.”

Bathgate says that far from adding to congestion on the coast, operations like iPort Rail, with an inland customs facility service and AEO status, can prove beneficial. “Sea ports are already under pressure, roads are congested and with more Brexit changes ahead businesses need a wider range of options to keep their supply chains moving from port to door”, he said. “Now goods going to or coming from Yorkshire, the North of England and the Midlands can bypass South Coast ports more easily with Channel Tunnel services able to clear customs in South Yorkshire.”

With the paperwork mounting up faster than queues at the customs gate, British trade is looking for all the help in can get. Bathgate concludes that rail services at iPort Rail are a viable solution. “Ultimately, this is another way for businesses to fulfill supply chain needs more sustainably and efficiently”, he said.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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