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BIFA welcomes Customs’ commitment to communication – updated

[ March 29, 2022   //   ]

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has welcomed a commitment by HMRC to better communicate with traders on the switchover from the Chief computer to the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) – which it described as the most significant change in the processing of customs declarations in 30 years.

Director general, Robert Keen, said: “We welcome the fact that HMRC is ramping up its communication on the subject and has recognised that the introduction of new rules can be challenging; whilst showing its appreciation for all the efforts the freight forwarding industry has already made to keep goods flowing.”

BIFA says that since it first met with HMRC on the matter many years ago, it has pressed the government for clarity over implementation timelines and also the procedural changes involved. CDS requires up to 76 boxes to be completed for imports, compared with only 76 for Chief while for exports the figures are 65 and 45, respectively.

Although BIFA has been providing significant information to its members over a lengthy period of time regarding the migration from CHIEF to CDS, it will now redouble its efforts to encourage them to step up preparations.

It is also encouraging its forwarder members to fully prepare their own customers about the forthcoming changes, as there is much for them to do to get ready, and much more involvement for them in preparing a customs declaration.

It has also created an e-learning programme to  help its members understand and implement the different working methods involved with the new system,

Developed in conjunction with Customs software business, Agency Sector Management, it covers the main differences between CHIEF and CDS to enable users to submit customs declarations for exports and imports via the new system.

Keen concludes: “Whilst HMRC’s recent announcement was welcome, BIFA is emphasising to its members that they need to fully appreciate the scale of the change, the amount of additional data required, and the complexity of completing the customs declaration via the new system.

“Furthermore, we are encouraging members to step up their preparations because, according to HMRC, from 30 September, CHIEF will no longer be available for import entries.”

The letter from HMRC outlines what businesses need to do to prepare for the change, and what help, and guidance is available to support them through the process.

It points out that CDS will become the UK single customs platform after 31 March 2023 but, ahead of complete closure, the import declaration function will be withdrawn on 30 September this year.

HMRC directors general for borders and trade, Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, said: “We know the introduction of new rules can be challenging and appreciate all the efforts industry has already made to keep goods flowing. The Customs Declaration Service provides us with the capacity and capability to grow in line with the Government’s ambitious trade plans and to have the world’s most efficient customs system by 2025.

“We understand a system change can take time which is why we are asking businesses to start the migration process now.

“We’ll do everything we can to support businesses to get this right. Help is available online, through our guidance on GOV.UK, our webinars and over the phone.”

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