What are the potential implications of Brexit for the mobility industry?

Published: Monday, May 23, 2016
Steve Marshall

When it comes to the question of the UK leaving the EU, dubbed ‘Brexit’ by the British media, any current opinion can only possibly be speculation, but it’s worth preempting some of the potential issues that may arise for employers and their relocating employees.

The British public is due to head to the polls on 23 June to cast their vote in the government-called referendum which will decide on the future of the UK’s relationship with Europe.

Many will recall the tangible concerns surrounding Y2K and the ‘Millennium Bug’ – and, as the clock struck midnight, nothing changed. If the UK public vote ‘no’, then that will almost certainly be the case here, but what are the theoretical implications for the global mobility industry if the answer is ‘yes’?

With the level of uncertainty around the outcome of the EU vote, in truth it’s difficult to determine any impact on the industry at this stage. While there is a lot of speculation, there would undoubtedly be a number of challenges especially in relation to UK-European service providers. It’s likely, for example, that the current comparatively free movement of goods to and from the UK would see tighter border controls and the reappearance of customs clearance agents could add additional costs and delays to transit times. In addition, changes to the VAT system and transport legislation could have a wider effect on the moving industry especially European operators.

Transversely, a vote to remain would of course largely mean business as usual – with a similar process for movements from the UK to the EU and vice versa – as well as the benefits of VAT and smooth border and customs controls.

Irrespective of ‘Brexit’, however, the UK moving industry has already seen some recent changes relating to shipments arriving in the UK destined for final delivery in EU member states. The new ruling effectively means that these goods will now require a transshipment bond which added a cost together with the associated administrative support.

While we wait patiently for the outcome of the referendum, SIRVA will be keeping a close eye on developments and will apply a consultative approach to navigating a path through any potential changes for our clients, partners and the industry as a whole, both in Europe and worldwide.