Ask the Expert – MSC


Lynn Taylor, Customs Development Manager at MSC, reveals how MSC provides top customs clearance services for its customers 

My name is Lynn Taylor, and I am the Customs Development Manager at MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) UK. I have worked for MSC since 2005 and have been working within the Shipping Industry for more than 30 years. 

Can you tell us more about MSC? What is the history of the company and what is its mission? 

Of course, our heritage is something we’re all very proud of here at MSC. The story of the MSC Group began in Brussels in 1970, when Captain Gianluigi Aponte founded the company with just a small cargo ship, the MV Patricia. MSC has since evolved from transporting foot passengers in beautiful Naples, to growing into a 760-vessel business with offices in 155 countries.  

Previously recognised as ‘Medite’, our MSC UK story began seven years later in 1977. What started out as a five-person operation above a shoe shop in Hull, is now the UK’s leading shipping and logistics provider, employing a team of over 900 across the UK – with Ipswich as our Head Office. 

Despite our global presence and large-scale operations, the MSC Group is, above all, a family company, sharing a common heritage and strong values. Ours is a business built on a genuine passion for the sea, on undeniable nautical heritage, and on an unfaltering commitment to people and communities. 

What different solutions does MSC provide within the logistics sector?  

When people think of MSC, they may think of our core ocean freight business and while we’re extremely proud of this, we’re able to offer customers so much more.  

MSC delivers a portfolio of solutions from warehousing and storage, customs clearance, and state-of-the-art container tracking, to road and rail transportation solutions that seamlessly connect to our market-leading UK port range. Our 24/7 e-business platform myMSC also enables our customers to manage their cargo online at a time that suits them. 

What are the main benefits of your services for customers? 

We are deeply passionate about building long term relationships. Our strong family values teamed with long-term and relevant training and investments provide our UK customers with the confidence in our industry experts to find them the best solutions for their cargo, in the most efficient and cost-effective way. 

The company has seen exponential growth in terms of both volume and fleet capacity, and now serves millions of customers globally, with a 365-days-a-year operation. Our extensive global network connects the UK to ports worldwide, providing our customers with unparalleled access to international markets. Today, our focus remains true to our roots, building and retaining long-term trusted partnerships with customers of all size and scale. 

How is MSC’s global shipping network developed and how does it adapt in order to meet changing customer needs?  

MSC has 675 offices across 155 countries worldwide, with the MSC Group employing over 180,000 people. With access to an integrated network of road, rail and sea transport resources which span across 260 trade routes across the globe, the company prides itself on delivering a global service with local knowledge in every country in which we operate.  

To continue to meet market and customer demands, between 2023 and 2024, a total of 14 vessels will join our brand new Celestino Maresca class, each with approx. 24’000+ TEU capacity. These giants are not only the largest vessels by total capacity of any shipping line, but also the most efficient by design. The first vessels in this new class have already started their first voyages between Asia and Europe. 

(Can we have a pop out quote here please – “Where the customer goes, MSC goes” – Captain Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Founder & Group Chairman) 

What role does digitalisation play in shipping and what solutions does MSC provide?  

We believe that digitalisation has the power to make shipping more efficient, secure and sustainable and we are a founding member of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA). 

MSC continues to be at the forefront of introducing digital standards in the container shipping industry (through DCSA) and offers a range of digital solutions including smart containers and Electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) as well as engaging with clients through our eBusiness channel myMSC, which is available on our website at      

MSC is aiming to achieve 100% eBLs adoption by 2030 as part of an industry-wide pledge and we were delighted that in July 2023, eBLs received royal assent in the UK. This means they will have the same legal status as the equivalent paper document which paves the way for huge financial savings for international trade, a better customer experience in shipping and more sustainable transport. 

When it comes to customs clearance, how does the process vary depending on the type of cargo? (foods/pharmaceuticals etc)  

In the realm of both import and export Customs Clearance, the intricacies of the process can vary based on the nature of the cargo being moved. Fortunately, my trusted team of experts are fully equipped to clear all types of cargo and handle all eventualities, ensuring a seamless flow of goods. This degree of specialisation allows us to provide the highest level of customer service across a range of commodities, whether you’re moving hazardous, temperature-controlled, project or general goods.

When it comes to different types of cargo, we understand that specific regulations and protocols must be adhered to in order to ensure a streamlined Customs Clearance process. For example, we handle necessary communications and documentation submission for clearances which require additional notification to Government authorities, such as Port Health or DEFRA. This proactive approach not only accelerates the clearance process, but also assures our customers that their cargo is being handled with the utmost care and compliance. 

At the stage of customs clearance, how does MSC UK ensure that it provides the best possible service for each type of customer?  

At the heart of our Customs Clearance operations lies a comprehensive, dependable, hands-on approach, tailored to our customers’ diverse requirements. Our commitment begins with the assignment of dedicated account handlers, who alleviate the pressures from customers and address their unique business requirements on a case-by-case basis. At MSC, we also recognise the value of transparency. Navigating the Customs Clearance landscape can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! Central to our service is proactive communication, ensuring that customers remain consistently updated on the progress of their Customs Clearance.  

For example, on imports, while we encourage the timely submission of Customs paperwork prior to the arrival of goods, we know that operational realities can vary. In instances of last-minute requests, our flexible approach allows us to accommodate these needs in the best way we can and maintain a smooth process for our customers.

Tell us something we may not know about customs clearance at MSC? 

We often find after speaking with our customers, they’re not always aware that we have a diverse, multi-lingual and dedicated internal team to manage their Customs Clearance. Our Customs team’s flexibility extends beyond clearing shipments solely for MSC containers. We are also able to manage clearances for import and export trailers and third-party containers across various shipping lines, providing our customers with a convenient choice of services to suit each stage of their supply chain journey.  

What other challenges can occur with customs clearance and how does MSC overcome these?  

To ensure the safety and security of Great Britain, at times our colleagues across the UK Government agencies complete checks on goods arriving into the UK. Understandably, delays in such cases can be both inconvenient and frustrating. At MSC, we approach these challenges with a strategic mindset, fostering close collaboration with our dedicated account managers within the relevant government agencies. This partnership ensures that we remain at the forefront of the latest developments, allowing us to keep our customers updated on any hold status they may encounter.  

However, we don’t just focus on customs when unforeseen situations occur, we also work closely with our customer service colleagues to initiate discussions surrounding scheduled deliveries, offering the flexibility to adapt and reschedule as necessary.   

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Editor, International Trade Magazine
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