As we are sure you’re aware, the situation in the UK regarding COVID-19 is ever-changing. IFE are doing everything possible to keep our clients informed with the most accurate and up to date information as and when we receive this.

We are aware that there are many questions and concerns regarding how this situation will impact shipments. We have decided to collate these questions into one document, in hopes that this is helpful for all clients during this period. As a polite reminder, please be aware that the main switchboard is closed – please contact staff directly via email or direct telephone numbers if you have any further questions or queries.


Does the deferred payment of business VAT announced last week apply to Import VAT/Import Duty?

Unfortunately at present, there are no planned changes to the way HMRC collect VAT and Duty on imports, in short our group will lose the ability to pay HMRC via our deferment account if we are unable to recover Duty & VAT payments from our client base in a timely manner.

Any company can apply to defer their import VAT payments with HMRC without security by applying through the below link.

Can IFE extend my credit terms?
Whilst the group are sympathetic to the unprecedented hardship caused by the Coronavirus, please understand as a fellow SME our group is also being adversely affected and has been since early February when China and parts of Asia essentially locked down a significant portion of our business, due to the nature of our industry the bulk of our groups suppliers are huge multinational shipping lines and airlines who have the leverage to enforce payment and will not under any circumstances agree to extend terms, to the contrary there are unconfirmed reports circulating that these same carriers have plans to freeze credit in order to limit their exposure to the unfolding global situation. 

The group would like to highlight to our client base a list of emergency measures announced by Her Majesties Government including interest free loans designed to alleviate short term cashflow issues during this difficult period:


The Department for Transport have confirmed it “essential that the work of the logistics sector should continue to the greatest extent possible through the Covid-19 crisis”. This means that at all times, workers should adhere to the Public Health England guidelines and take all necessary precautions, however, logistics professionals are required to continue business as usual to keep supplies moving. This applies for all supply chains and not only those for medical supplies and food.

Currently, haulier operations are still running as usual in order to keep supply chain moving. It is worth noting that at present, hauliers are not offering any reduction or extension on agreed container unloading times

Are the UK ports shut?

The Ports are all currently still open, however, they are working at a slightly lower capacity with strained workforce. This will likely affect the turnaround for container collections and may cause some slight delays. You will of course be advised by our team if any of your shipments with IFE are affected. The Ports are taking every precaution possible to ensure they remain fully operational throughout this period. Our customers will of course be quickly notified if this changes, however, you may find the below links useful:

My warehouse is still open, will I receive my deliveries without delays?
Currently, haulier operations are still running as usual in order to keep supply chain moving. Along with the Ports, they are also taking the highest levels of precaution to ensure this continues to be the case. Our dedicated transport department are monitoring this regularly to ensure that we can keep you fully up to date with your delivery bookings.

My warehouse is closed, who will be responsible for paying charges such as rent & demurrage on my containers?
The Ports and Hauliers are still working as normal so we are at present still able to make deliveries to your site if requested. Unfortunately, if this is not possible, due to the working practices – Shipping Lines / Ports etc are not currently offering any extension to the existing free time agreements in place. If you are in a position whereby your warehouse has closed, we can look at cheaper alternatives for storage – depending on the timescales required.


Am I still able to make bookings with you to move my goods?

Yes – we are here to assist with any shipments ready to move by whichever means required, if you wish to do so. The Bookings team are available as usual to assist with your shipment requirements, deadlines and timescales. IFE offer a number of services from any part of the world including sea freight – FCL and LCL’s including our own service consol boxes from various China and India main Ports, air, road and rail freight & fulfilment and e-commerce solutions. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team if we can assist with any freight movements.

Is air freight still coming into and moving out of the UK?
Yes – however, services are mainly restricted to freighter services only which has an impact on capacity and subsequent rates. Our head of airfreight is on hand to assist with any enquiries you may have regarding this. Please contact Chris Darbin directly –


IFE are doing our best to listen to all of our client’s concerns during this uncertain period, and provide practical solutions where we can. The shipping lines are currently putting into place their contingency plans during the current crisis – one of which we feel may be beneficial to our clients who are perhaps hesitant on moving freight due to warehouses being shut in the UK. SOT / DIT could be an option to offload cargo and hold at various transhipment Ports until you are ready for re-connection on a new vessel to intended destination. The service is available for all cargo at booking stage in Origin with the exception of hazardous or out of gauge goods and reefer containers.
This could help to allow business continuity and increase flexibility. We are happy to help if you would like any further information on this service!


What will happen with original documentation?

Original bills can continue to be received at our Basildon office, a member of staff will be going into the office once a week. We request clients who are sending documents, to also send us a clear photograph of the front and back of the document/s, along with the tracking reference.

We hope this information is helpful & provides you with some clarity in these uncertain times. Please check back on our Social’s and Blog Page for more updates in the coming weeks. If you do have any further enquiries or require any more guidance / information, please do not hesitate to first contact your Account or Sales Manager, followed by any relevant member of the team who will be happy to assist you. 


What precautions are IFE taking during this time period?
We are strictly adhering to the UK government’s advice in regards to the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, clients and associates. IFE took the precautionary action at the start of this month to equip all staff with full remote access in case necessary, this has ensured the home working process has been as smooth as possible and we are all able to operate as usual. We will continue to monitor the UK government’s advice and instructions in the coming weeks.

How can I reach you? 

As advised, our daily service is uninterrupted. All staff are contactable as usual via email or direct phone numbers – we do kindly request that if you wish to get hold of us over the phone, that you do not call the main switchboard line and instead use the direct telephone numbers for each member of staff. The majority of our clients are now reaping the benefits our Smart Portal – the UK’s first real time logistics Portal – which is now proving more useful than ever. The Portal offers many collated services including real time tracking of your shipments, the ability to upload clearance documents, direct contact with the team, and marking shipments as urgent if required. If you would like any more information on this, please contact our Commercial team or your Account manager who will be happy to assist. Alternatively, for more information, please visit the below link:

Our smart logistics portal makes transparent the complex process of customs clearance, transfers between sea, road and rail, and all other physical, procedural and bureaucratic hold-ups. The smart portal ensures paperwork keeps up with the goods and the goods are delivered as swiftly as possible.

Request your free personalised demonstration account 

If you have any questions regarding our Smart Portal please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated team:

T: +44 (0) 1268 286999 E: