Introducing Stephen Lambrou, Customs Clearance Manager

Hi everyone,

Stephen Lambrou here, Customs Clearance Manager for Hellmann Worldwide Logistics UK based in Dover, joining Justin and David with regular contributions on the Hellmann UK Brexit Blog.

I have been in the customs clearance business since 1987, spending 25 years at Dornack International Ltd and the last seven years at International Forwarding Ltd before joining Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in December 2018.

A brief summary of the customs clearance procedures at Dover

In light of a recent meeting with some European customers regarding the outcome of Brexit and the possibility of a ‘No Deal’ scenario, it became quite apparent that the ‘art’ of customs clearance within the EU has simply been lost over the last 25 years or so. Most were actually ‘blissfully’ unaware of the consequences of having to stop at the UK border to present documents to the Border Force for clearance and understandably quite confused as to the whole process of what happens when their trucks would arrive at Dover / Channel Tunnel for example.

One delegate was under the impression that the goods were physically checked at Dover prior to clearance (as in his own country), and thought this could take many hours before clearance was granted. In reality, approximately 99% of shipments are cleared through without the need for any goods/paper checks by Border Force/HMRC.

Obviously these checks can be requested at a later date by HMRC so clearance still has to be completed in the correct fashion and all documents correctly archived for inspection, so don’t think they won’t check at some point!

Therefore, for those who don’t already know, below is a brief summary of what (should) actually happen on arrival in Dover:

  • The truck arrives in Dover Eastern Docks from Calais / Dunkirk, proceeds approximately one mile to the Western Docks Clearance Facility (Motis Ltd:
  • Motis is the ‘go-between’ for Clearance Brokers and HMRC and are open 24/7.

They will check the driver’s documents against our documents that we would have pre-lodged with them awaiting arrival of the truck.

  • Once satisfied they action the clearance electronically and as previously mentioned most will go ‘Route 6 – instant clearance with no checks’.  On rare occasions some clearances can go ‘Route 1 – paper check’ or ‘Route 2 – physical exam of the goods’. The last two mainly dependant on the commodity / country of origin.
  • This whole process from disembarking the ferry to clearance and release of the trailer usually takes about 40 minutes, not too bad at all.
  • Obviously after Brexit the queue to actually enter the clearance facility may cause this time to considerably increase…
  • A similar scenario also applies to trucks arriving on the Channel Tunnel into STOP24 clearance facility.

For more information on any of the above, please feel free to contact me.


Tel:  +44 (0)1304 248 390


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