Business, Forwarding, Freight News, IT

HMRC offers brief stay of execution for CDS switchover

[ September 20, 2022   //   ]

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says that traders will still be able to use the Chief customs system for import declarations after 1 October, under certain circumstances.

It says that while it still expects import declarations to be made through the new CDS system from that date, Chief badge holders will be able seek permission to use CHIEF beyond that date if they have a clear business reason that prevents the declaration being made on CDS. However, failure to have made preparations for the switch will not be considered acceptable, says HMRC, which adds that the easement is likely to be only short term.

Chief was due to be completely closed to new import customs declarations on 30 September.

Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association welcomed the news, saying: “In 2019, when HMRC announced its proposed plan for completing delivery of the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS), and migrating traders from CHIEF to the new platform, we expressed the view that the timetable would be challenging.”

He said that in the intervening period, BIFA has worked very closely Community Service Providers (CSPs), through our Customs Policy Group and the Joint Customs Consultancy Committee (JCCC), to represent the views of BIFA members and others that submit Customs declarations to HMRC.

Keen added: “Having made further representations via the programme board seeking clarifications on behalf of our members, we are reassured to hear that it is HMRC’s intention to allow CHIEF badge holders to apply for a discretionary extension, which will give all concerned a further short grace period to finalise their transition and for software developers to complete their system development.

“But, the important thing to remember is that that this discretionary period is short and designed to facilitate those traders who are close to, but have not fully migrated to CDS. So anyone with their head in the sand over transition from CHIEF to CDS really needs to act fast.

“Those who continue using CHIEF without seeking authorisation will face consequences including the possible removal of the ability to access CHIEF.”

Peter MacSwiney, chairman of freight software firm Agency Sector Management, added: “We felt that the state of readiness across all parties in the supply chain, from Customs intermediaries through to traders, was not sufficiently advanced to ensure a smooth transition. There was concern that if CHIEF was actually turned off there would not be sufficient numbers of CDS-ready organisations to prevent serious cargo backlogs at air and seaports.

“CDS has been a long-time in the making, and there have been many changes in the implementation timetable, but the critical point to understand is that this extension for CHIEF will be temporary and any business that makes Customs declarations  must continue to work towards transitioning from CHIEF to CDS, as a large proportion of BIFA  members, and users of ASM Customs processing software, are already doing.

“Taking this approach until there is confidence that the new system is fully developed, stable and tested is pragmatic and shows HMRC has been listening to the ongoing lobbying on the subject that has been done by ASM and BIFA.”