Hans van der Hulst
Customs Declarant

Import and Export Customs Handling

Hans is the longest-serving employee at Thermotraffic Venlo. He likes the company so much that he left LinkedIn because he was constantly approached to work elsewhere!

I started in 1980 at the border in Venlo, which was the hotspot for customs. I worked as a declarant with a forwarding company, in the office where the drivers came. I have moved from job to job in this sector since then.

I joined Thermotraffic on 1 September 2005 after briefly working at three other companies. None of them was to my liking. I didn’t like the open-plan offices, the mentality, or the large scale. Thermotraffic was smaller with just three of us, so I chose that. It seems to have been a good choice because some of the companies I worked for no longer exist while Thermotraffic has grown. In fact, there are now 11 of us in the department.

A full and varied job

My job involves taking care of import and export declarations, ensuring that goods can cross the border into the EU. Applying for inspections. Making transit documents. Arranging container transport and making bonded warehouse declarations. It’s a broad package of activities and it takes some time to learn it all. Everyone in the team is able to perform on all these activities so that we can take over if, for example, someone is on holiday.

Real satisfaction

In the pre-digital days, I enjoyed dealing with people. That has somewhat disappeared but we still have a lot of contact by phone and e-mail. And you can really mean something to your customers. Perhaps there’s a problem or an obstacle, or something isn’t working. I can solve that. Helping customers. Staying at work a bit longer. Doing something extra now and again. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

Sometimes customers are impatient with the processes at customs, the Chamber of Commerce, or the NVWA (The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority). And even now, some years after Brexit, some customers still don’t seem to understand that documents have to be made for transports to and from England. The good news is that Thermotraffic is authorized to make both the import and export declarations in the UK, so we save time for our customers in that sense.

We also have a lot of contact with transport departments. When will you leave, which route will you take, which ports, etc.? There is constant communication, but it always works out well.

It’s never boring!

The work we do here is very broad and varied. New colleagues tell us that at other companies you often perform the same task so the job becomes very repetitive. Every day is different here, and you don’t work for a fixed client so you learn a lot.

We get on very well with each other and help each other out. For example, when someone wants to swap shifts, start early or late, or work at the weekend. I have no ambitions to work anywhere else and I even left LinkedIn because I was approached for other jobs so often. I have nice colleagues, I like it here, so why would I leave?

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