There’s a new customs procedure in place for UK importers.
So far, it’s not been popular…
As part of the post-Brexit trade arrangements, HMRC has switched from the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) IT system to a new system: the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).
Just as CHIEF was, the CDS is essential to the process of importing goods to the UK. In short, the system is used to generate the paperwork needed to make an import declaration.
From 31st March 2023, traders will have to use CDS to make export declarations as well.
The CDS deadline
The original date for traders to migrate from CHIEF to CDS was 30th September, but a lack of support and IT issues meant that many were unable to. As a result, HMRC granted an extension to affected companies, allowing them to continue using CHIEF until the new deadline of 30th October.
However, the new deadline has been and gone, and some still haven’t made the switch.
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has stated that all traders who hadn’t been able to at the end of September should now be fully migrated. According to BIFA, further extensions have only been granted in “exceptional circumstances”.
Still, companies appear to be putting it off. It seems that traders are resistant to making the switch to CDS due to the plethora of difficulties that have been reported so far with the system.
Problems with Customs Declaration Service
So, what exactly are the problems with CDS? Technological issues are a big one.
On Tuesday 1st November – just one day after the extended deadline – some CDS users were unable to access the paperwork they needed to bring goods into the country. This led to trucks being held up at customs depots and companies incurring additional charges to minimise delays.
The result, unsurprisingly, was significant disruption and widespread discontent.
On top of that, there are issues that some see as in-built flaws with the system. For example, users need to provide a lot more information to complete a declaration through CDS than they did with CHIEF. Also, the CDS has brought with it a complete overhaul of customs declaration codes (CDCs). All this adds up to unnecessary administrative confusion.
Given that traders were promised a smooth trading process in a post-Brexit Britain, as well as an end to excessive bureaucracy, many are unhappy.
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