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Preparing a World-Leading Freight Forwarder for Post-Brexit Customs Brokerage Success

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One of the world’s largest and highest performing global transport and logistics providers needed help preparing for and succeeding through Brexit.

DDC FPO successfully recruited, onboarded, and trained a workforce of 500 new customs brokerage employees for the client within 20 weeks, plus an additional 320 employees in 2021, providing them with a cost-effective and scalable solution tailored to their processes.

To measure success, DDC FPO assessed the following:

  • Monthly overall quality across all countries, via error rates and accuracy rates
  • Productivity by SPH (shipments per hour), depending on the volume available to process.

We had our goal for accuracy rates, and we surpassed it significantly,” says the client. “It’s a fantastic result, and a testament to the support we received from DDC FPO in terms of recruitment and training.

The team hired and managed by DDC continue to work in 24/7 operating shifts supporting the client. While the magnitude of the effects of Brexit on customs processing remains to be seen, DDC is ready to further scale up the client’s teams if and when it becomes necessary.


Before the client’s partnership with DDC FPO, all of their shipment data was entered in one line for multi-line invoices. New processes required each line to be submitted separately in order to accurately process shipments.

To preserve efficiency and accuracy under these new processes, the client initially approached DDC for support with key entry functions.

As soon as Brexit talks began progressing in 2018, the client began preparing their business to be ready for new regulations or changes put in place between the UK and EU. DDC FPO developed a bespoke solution to guarantee successful clearance through customs for Brexit-impacted shipments.

Over time, they expanded their contract with DDC to also include Import / Export Rating, Invoicing Matching and Customer Contact services.

We had already experienced success with DDC’s origin data capture solutions,” says President of Freight Forwarding and Brokerage for the client company, “so we were confident that their other services would help us prepare for the process changes Brexit would require, like customs processing."

The Challenge

In February of 2019, the client determined that they would need to recruit, onboard, and train 500 new employees — raters and agents based in either the Philippines or Bosnia — to service a number of countries, including Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Luxembourg, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland.

These new employees would need to be onboarded and trained quickly in order to be prepared to assist with expected increases in customs paperwork and other complex process changes related to Brexit.

Process Overview and Requirements

Tailored to the client's requirements and standard processes, DDC raters or agents receive the documents, which then need to be analyzed and keyed into a client-preferred operating system. Data is then submitted to customs. At times, the agents are also required to coordinate with internal client raters to pass on specific, complex shipments.

This internal client process varies per country and requires specific training depending on the rater or agent’s placement or which country they are supporting.

The production can also vary depending on the document's length and complexity required for entry. This typically relates to the number of invoices or commodity lines required to be keyed and/or the type of entry.

Based on the complexity of these tasks, DDC worked with the client to come up with candidate requirements and a multi-step selection process.

Candidate requirements

  • College graduate
  • Multilingual fluency
  • Client contact communication skills

Candidate selection process

  • Mutually approved assessment
  • Behavioural interview process
  • Background checks (including criminal records as legally necessary in the country where services would be provided).

Phase 1 of the recruiting process was completed in March 2019, when 377  employees were hired, and Phase 2 was completed in April 2019, when the remaining 191 of employees were hired.

As Brexit talks in the UK and EU changed throughout 2019 and the 2020 transition year, DDC FPO was able to flexibly ramp up and ramp down hiring needs for the client.

DDC also hired and trained 320 additional agents in 2021 to support post-Brexit increased paperwork volumes (see “Continued support” section below).


Once the recruits were hired, DDC FPO managed their training and provided onsite classrooms. DDC FPO managed 24 concurrent training classes across two shifts from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm EST.

The first four weeks included classroom training, both onsite and virtual. Hands-on live training began in the fifth week, and the remaining 12 weeks were used for productivity progression.

“Developing this training program was a collaborative effort,” says Luna Boyd, Vice President of Client Solutions at DDC FPO. “We worked closely with the client to gain a thorough understanding of specific tasks the new employees would be performing on a daily basis, as well as the big-picture company values they’d need to embody.”

Over the course of their training, raters and agents became familiar with:

  • Receiving shipments to process
  • Researching and verifying codes using Taric Consultation
  • Reviewing freight charges, service levels, billing terms, country of origin, and VAT exemptions
  • The basic brokerage processing cycle for all shipments

DDC FPO trained these employees not only on the requirements for providing customs brokerage processing solutions but also on the client’s existing frameworks, leading declaration management systems, international trade products, and proprietary software built for supporting brokerage operations.

“We made sure the agents would become integral parts of the client’s process,” Boyd says. “That kind of cohesion is key for remaining agile during the Brexit transition period and into the future.”
Goals Achieved
  • Scalable & Cost-Effective
  • Bespoke, Adaptable Solution
  • Navigate The Complications of Brexit
  • Timely Customs Clearance
  • Improved Accuracy Rates
  • Multi-Language Enabled


Accelerated timeline

DDC FPO achieved the expressed timeline for the client by recruiting, training, and onboarding desired key roles within 20 weeks.

Increased accuracy

DDC FPO helped exceed the client's accuracy goals by 4%.

Cost savings

With strategic outsourcing and accuracy improvements, DDC FPO provided a cost-effective and scalable solution.

Continued Support

As anticipated, when the Brexit grace period came to an end in January 2021, the client experienced a marked increase in paperwork and had to adjust processes to comply with new customs regulations. In order to maintain normal business flows, they needed additional support.

The client requested an additional 149 agents in the Philippines and 52 agents in Bosnia to support import/export rating, invoice matching, and origin data capture for UK-EU transactions. DDC FPO successfully hired and trained those new agents in less than two months. DDC also immediately began cross-training 475 existing agents in Bosnia to specialize in import/export regulations for multiple EU countries so they could flex between countries according to volume fluctuations.

Both the Philippines and Bosnia offices worked overtime hours for the entire months of January and February 2021 to support Brexit paperwork volume increases. In the Philippines, DDC set up day and night shifts to ensure around-the-clock coverage.

In March 2021, the client requested another 119 full-time employees to prepare for additional increases in paperwork due to VAT changes going into effect on 1 July. Once again, DDC was able fulfill this request in under 2 months, with all agents expected to be hired by the end of April 2021.

Accuracy and cost savings data metrics hold steady as DDC FPO continues to offer support for successful post-Brexit operations. As always, we are prepared to scale up or down to accommodate the client’s needs as they evolve.


As evidenced by the client’s success with our bespoke solution, outsourcing customs processing can have a significant positive impact on accuracy, allowing companies to survive the complications of Brexit — and emerge stronger and more effective than ever before.

Between Brexit and the pandemic, international shipping and customs brokerage have gotten more challenging,” says DDC’s Global Technical Director, Richard Greening. “Global companies need global solutions, and outsourcing will continue to be a key strategy moving forward.

DDC is proud to support their clients for success post-Brexit and through any other major event with reliable and customizable customs brokerage processing services.


Learn more about our customs brokerage processing suite or contact us today to get in touch with our freight industry experts.