UK Customs Declarations Service Delays

Ever since Britain’s HMRC planned to switch its import/export system from Customs Handling Import and Export (CHIEF) to the brand-new Customs Declarations Service (CDS), there have been problems for all parties, including freight transport businesses.

Beginning on 30 September 2022, the original goal for completion was set for March 30 2023. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, that date has been delayed multiple times, with different elements of the new CDS suffering setbacks. An initial extension was made to applications in November 2022. This saw a final extension of the system’s implementation date to November 30 2023, a full eight months after the original date.

The delays have contributed towards an uncertain period for the freight transport sector. Every company that deal with freight management, such as software specialists Forward Solutions, has had a challenge with the continuous changes to the plan. It has left many in the sector scratching their heads as to the next move. However, for Forward Solutions customers’, help has been at hand, with the experience and knowledge of the internal team helping to ease the customs headaches caused by the hold up.

Richard Litchfield, Managing Director of Forward Solutions, added: “The switch between CHIEF and CDS was always going to be turbulent. The previous system and way of working had been in place for many years, and, so, a six-month window for all freight companies to make the switch was an optimistic deadline. The choice to delay was a sensible decision from HMRC, as it gives companies more time to fully understand the new system and allow for a smoother transition, giving service providers, traders and agents like us, to develop systems and software that will work from day one, rather than a troubled launch. Since the start of the transition phase in September 2022, we’ve been supporting our customers with an extensive CDS knowledge resource on our website. This is to give our customers the most relevant, up-to-date information regarding CDS. We are also distributing regular, direct updates regarding what HMRC is doing with both CHIEF and CDS, but it is clear to see that the transition period has been a confusing time for everyone involved.”

One of the reasons for the delay is related to the testing of the system’s functionality, which requires further fine-tuning. According to a recent article, there are rumours of further delays, which could result in further issues until 2024. The good news is that CDS has been running since 2018 and is currently used for making import declarations when bringing goods into the UK.

HMRC stated: “The service will replace the CHIEF service, representing a significant upgrade by providing businesses with a more user-friendly, streamlined system that offers greater functionality.”

John Varley, Product Specialist at Forward Solutions, has been overseeing the switch to CDS, and added: “This delay will have a major effect on many businesses, as we, alongside everyone else, had been working towards the March 2023 deadline. Whilst the benefits of having more time to test and transition is a good thing, we need to make sure that companies across the industry have a full understanding of the new system, and the correct guidance needs to be given by HMRC, as, ultimately, delay after delay won’t fix every problem. We are sure that CDS will represent a great step forward, when it arrives and we will continue to work towards helping our customers prepare, with the November 2023 deadline in mind.”

According to a statement from HMRC, Sarah Hartley, Director of Border Change Delivery at HMRC, said: “We have moved the deadline to enable us to spend more time working with industry in delivering and testing critical functionality, as well as the support needed to help declarants move across to the new system. The extra time also allows businesses and stakeholders more time to prepare their customers and software products for the November deadline.”

HMRC will provide further information about the timeline for CDS exports by the end of January 2023.

Forward Solutions is part of the Freight Software Group, alongside BoxTop Technologies [6]. The duo share an eye-catching stand, number 2070, at Multimodal and together have a portfolio of over 300 customers.

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