Revenue apologises for post-Brexit customs delays caused by IT issues

Import system struggling to deal with 20,000 small parcel declarations lodged ‘in one go’

Revenue has apologised for delays in its customs IT system as it struggles to cope with up to 20,000 declarations for small parcels from Britain being submitted “in one go” at peak times.

Tom Talbot, head of Revenue's customs operations at Dublin Port, accepted that post-Brexit problems in the automated import system had "caused major difficulties" for importers trading with Britain. He said Revenue was working with its software provider to fix the issues.

Traders and hauliers have experienced additional delays and difficulties with moving goods on lorries and trailers through Dublin Port due to slow responses from Revenue’s system.

Mr Talbot said Revenue was seeing a significant increase in the volume of small consignments due to the move to online shopping since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Large filers of customs declarations were uploading 20,000 declarations at one time with “one press of a button”, he told a Government briefing on post-Brexit trade through Dublin Port.

He pledged that solutions to the problem “will come quickly”.

Revenue is dealing with a surge in paperwork since Brexit as 1.8 million declarations were filed in January, compared with 1.6 million declarations for the whole of last year, he said.

The increased number of declarations is in line with Revenue’s own forecasts.


Eddie Burke, an official at the Department of Transport's Brexit unit, said the department was concerned that the volume of trade with Britain was down 50 per cent from normal levels.

“It is and will remain a source of concern until we see those coming back. They are coming back but it is slowly,” he said.

Mr Burke said customs may still be working through stockpiled goods since before Christmas or sourcing goods directly from mainland Europe, rather than Britain, since Brexit.

Revenue reported that in the 24-hour period to Monday morning, 86 per cent of freight vehicles were being “green-routed” out of the port without any customs checks required.

On average, some 75 per cent of freight movements were green-routed without the need for documentary or physical inspections during January, up from 45 per cent at the start of the month.

Some 20 per cent were “orange-routed”, requiring a documentary check, while 5 per cent were “red-routed”, requiring a physical inspection at the port, delaying the release of the load.

There were 20,793 freight movements from Britain into Dublin Port in January, more than two-thirds of which were unaccompanied trailers, on 372 ferries.

New controls

Hazel Sheridan, head of import control at the Department of Agriculture, urged exporters to get ready for Britain phasing in new border controls on its side on April 1st and July 1st.

She told them to identify who would be filing the paperwork in advance. In some cases, this had not been done by importers and it had “caused a bit of trouble for people”, she said.

Ms Sheridan told the briefing there was a future for mixed loads of goods or “groupage” as the transport industry calls it, but that there would be “an adjustment for businesses”.

Declan Hughes, assistant secretary general at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said retail supply chains were "robust and strong" and isolated issues were being worked on.

Where post-Brexit supply problems arise, some retailers were sourcing food ingredients within the State or in other countries in the European Union for supermarket products such as “ready meals”, he said.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times