You are currently viewing How not to enter the EU: Short procurement story

How not to enter the EU: Short procurement story

I believe that we all can agree that Murphy’s law applies very often in logistics:

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”

Once more, a case that happened early in my career. We purchased milk coolers, required to keep the fresh milk cold at farms until collection, in Norway. And have sent our driver with a trailer truck to collect them.

Now, to give a bit of context on the below picture is the route he had to take to bring the goods home.

So, the plan was:

  1. Take the ferry to Denmark
  2. Declare goods in transit through the EU once in Denmark
  3. Drive through the EU about 1700 kilometres
  4. Declare goods out of the EU at the Austrian border
  5. Report transit through Slovenia and Croatia
  6. Get into the home country and declare goods for import

Sounds simple, isn’t it? After all, you can not miss a border crossing, especially if you drive a semi-trailer full of goods.

Well, our driver somehow managed to miss the customs of Denmark. And figured this out 1700 kilometres later, when asked about the goods declaration document at the exit border of the EU. So, here we are with a trailer that, legally, does not exist. My boss was on fire. He asked the driver to simply dump the cargo and return home, which was not possible. One can not just like throw 20 Tons of steel and refrigerant gas into a garbage bin.

So, what are our options? Without the entrance stamp, he can not exit. But even if he drives back those 1700 kilometres, there is no guarantee that they will believe him. And there was no option to pay a fine or some tax and get the truck out of the EU.

We were stuck. Literary.

 After two days of forth-and-back between the two customs offices, the forwarding agent and the help of friends who had transport companies and knew all the procedures, we found a way. A customs official agreed, after seeing the physical photos of the truck and goods, to stamp the transit papers. So, we couriered the documents, and the agent got them stamped and sent back.

Yay! Our driver was free, after 10 days of sitting at the border.

Bottom line?

“Assumption is the mother of all mess-ups”

If it is a new process, make sure the main stakeholders have a list with all steps that need to be taken. I know it sounds awkward to give a grown-up a “to-do” list and ask him to tick every box as he goes along. But it will save a lot of headaches.


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