UK govt delays migration to new customs declaration system

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The UK's HMRC agency has postponed the deadline for traders to migrate to a new system for making export declarations until next year.

The UK government has confirmed it will push back the deadline for migrating to a new system for export customs declarations after receiving feedback from industry groups.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had planned to end the use of the 30-year-old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform by 30th November in favor of the more modern Customs Declaration Service (CDS). However, it has now confirmed that some traders will be able to continue using the old system until 30th March 2024.

It stated this decision was made following discussions with the industry. Instead, a phased approach will be taken, which will see "selected high-volume declarants" supported in moving to CDS by the November deadline, with other businesses given more time to prepare.

In a statement, HMRC said: "This new approach will enable HMRC and delivery partners to build on the existing IT testing as well as undertake additional performance analysis while businesses with the existing IT functionality start to migrate."

CDS has been in operation since 2018 and is already used for making all import declarations when moving goods into the UK. It promises to offer traders a more user-friendly, streamlined system, as well as provide greater functionality than the older CHIEF platform.

However, the transition has not been without its problems. Public Technology notes that some businesses have reported encountering difficulties registering for CDS, with hundreds completely unable to do so.

The UK's exit from the EU has also greatly increased demands on the system, which was initially planned to handle up to 100 million declarations a year - double the actual pre-Brexit volume. However, new rules mean the number of shipments requiring customs declarations has since increased fivefold to around 250 million a year.

Trade groups welcomed news of the latest delay, with Amanda Francis, chief executive of the Association of International Courier and Express Services (AICES) describing it as a "pragmatic decision".

She added: "We also welcome the level of stakeholder engagement and the recognition that express operators need sufficient notice and time to ensure a smooth transition from CHIEF to CDS."