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Importers unready for CDS – updated

[ August 31, 2022   //   ]

Customs solutions provider C4T, said in mid-August that it was increasingly concerned about the number of UK importers yet to register for, and become familiar with HMRC’s new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).  The deadline for migration from the old CHIEF system is 30 September and declarations using CHIEF from 1 October onwards will not be valid. 

According to C4T, HMRC reported that it is seeing increased activity according to all its dashboard measures. The agency distinguishes two critical groups of declarants: the top 248 and 3000 others that should ‘ideally be ready’ (based on the assumption that these companies are currently using CHIEF for imports). Of the top group 225 are live on CDS, representing 77% of all declarations in the current CHIEF system.  400 of the group of 3,000 are at least registered on CDS with a further 500 live on the new system.

C4T founder and president Pieter Haesaert said that HMRC was “making concerted strides to close the gap with a programme of pro-active contact to the balance of non-registered importers with the 3,000 group.  Over 50% of this out-reach has been completed. In addition to these two critical groups, there are some 15,000 importers with direct debit accounts for the payment of import duty that HMRC states need to adapt to CDS.  They are also being contacted.”

But he added: “Despite this concentrated activity by HMRC, and others in educating and advising importers and brokers on the technical detail of the changes in data entry required by the transfer from CHIEF to CDS, there clearly remain major concerns over the lack of preparation by numerous companies.” 

C4T understands that HMRC is planning a further announcement on the progress of the migration to CDS in mid-September.

Haesaert said that a poll taken during one of its webinars suggested that over a third of respondents felt ‘not comfortable at all’ with the changes to the data fields required for custom’s entries.”

C4T is confident that the CDS technology is ready and capable of handling the change- over, believing it to be well designed and thoroughly tested over a lengthy period. It represents a much needed up-date to the 30-year old CHIEF system and its final introduction is well timed to be synchronised with similar transfers to new systems that are planned in other European countries over the next two years. 

Haesaert concluded: ”Our immediate focus is on the end of September.  We must continue to urge those companies not CDS compliant to get on-board and seek assistance if they are still not assured of a seamless transfer to the new system. At C4T we stand ready to help and are prepared to adapt should HMRC feel it necessary to introduce a contingency plan to deal with imports accompanied by incorrect declarations post 30 September.”

HMRC is meanwhile writing to declarants and traders reminding them that import declarations must be submitted through CDS from 1 October.

Director of programme and operational delivery Julie Etheridge said: “There is only a month left until businesses must use Customs Declaration Service for imports. Businesses who are still waiting to move need to start the process now or face possible disruption to their business. 

“Those concerned about moving across to the Customs Declaration Service should work with a customs agent who is ready to use the system and can make declarations on their behalf.”  

Declarants are being contacted by phone and email to inform them of steps they need to take and further information is available on GOV.UK, including a Customs Declaration Service toolkit and checklists.

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