MPs in the UK have written to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to express concerns that the new customs system will not be ready in time for the Brexit deadline in March 2019.
A new infrastructure had already been lined up to replace the current CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) prior to the referendum that decreed Britain would be leaving the European Union next year.
However, chair of the public accounts committee Meg Hillier said in a letter to HMRC she is extremely worried that the new system called CDS (Customs Declaration System) will not be fully operational in time to prevent serious disruption at the borders for traders.
Ms Hillier said she has been left disappointed by a "slip in the timing" of the rollout and is "concerned" about the apparent lack of progress made in the past two months in terms of getting it ready.
The letter also pointed out that HMRC has so far failed to identify the 100,000 small traders who would be affected by a new post-Brexit customs system and informed them about how they need to prepare, particularly if there is a no-deal situation.
It is expected that the number of companies needing to declare customs to HMRC at the UK border will rise from 150,000 to 295,000 after Britain's exit from the EU, while the number of declarations could increase to 255 million from just 55 million.
Without appropriate systems in place to deal with this, businesses could face long delays at ports and airports.
In its response to the letter, HMRC insisted it is ready to have a functioning customs, VAT and excise system in place.
"We have always said the timeline for implementing the CDS is tight, but that we would operate the current system [CHIEF] in tandem throughout the transition. We have engaged with business representative bodies who will be key partners in reaching businesses to ensure that they understand any implications for them," the statement added.
CDS is supposed to be ready for use in January 2019, weeks before Brexit takes place on March 29th.
The National Audit Office has previously warned that it would be a "horror show" if customs officials were forced to manually process imports and exports post-Brexit.
All companies that import and export goods from and to the UK and are currently using CHIEF need to get ready for CDS.
MIC has been certified in the UK for the electronic data exchange with CHIEF since 1999 and will be ready on time for the upcoming new CDS. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need expert advice on how your business might need to prepare.