Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Fundamental Shift in UK Customs Clearance Policy Launched with HMRC Support

A Change is Gonna Come - Soon
Shipping News Feature

UK – Anyone in close communication with the country's freight community knows that one of the biggest frustrations with regard to the rules and regulations controlling the flow of goods can be the ignorance and intransigence of some of the appointed authorities responsible for keeping the supply chain working efficiently.

Incidents like those perpetuated by government ministers and the like, Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling’s ferry debacle springs to mind, handing over £13.8 million to a company with no ships to lay on ‘extra’ ferries as they screwed up Brexit, whilst appearing to turn a deaf ear to those professionals who actually know the trade.

Now it seems we are witnessing something of a ‘mea culpa’ from the authorities with the composition of a letter to all affected businesses offering help with the forthcoming switch from the current CHIEF goods declaration system to the incoming Customs Declaration Service (CDS) and a nod to the industry which has helped guide them through it.

The last day of September will see the old system close for good for imports (next March for exports) and HMRC points out that the test of CDS has seen over 2.5 million consignments successfully processed already. Now HMRC is urging declarants to take advantage of help offered to start the migration to the Customs Declaration Service immediately .

This can be done by either working with a software developer or Community System Provider, or by accessing the help themselves to get ready to move to the Customs Declaration Service which could take up to six months depending on the scale and complexity of the business. Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, HMRC Directors General for Borders and Trade, commented:

”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.”

The news that HMRC was communicating with all companies involved in international trade on the most significant changes in the processing of customs declarations in 30 years, prompted Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) to say:

“For several years, BIFA has been highlighting the issues surrounding the impending change from CHIEF, the current system used to process customs declarations to the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS). 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 since it first met with HMRC on the matter many years ago it has pressed the government regarding clarity over implementation timelines and also the procedural changes involved. Although BIFA has been providing significant information to its members over a lengthy period of time regarding the migration from CHIEF to CDS and the significant impact, it will now redouble its efforts to encourage them to step up their preparations.

It is also encouraging them to fully prepare their 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 taken the initiative in regards to creating a relevant training programme that will help its members understand and implement the different working methods involved with the new system.

BIFA’s Customs Declaration Service eLearning programme was developed in conjunction with leading Customs software business, Agency Sector Management, and covers the main differences between CHIEF and the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) to enable users to submit customs declarations for exports and imports via the new system.

This has been available since October 2021 and BIFA is confident that it offers a training programme to BIFA members and others that provides cost effective, invaluable advice and information. 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 September 30th, CHIEF will no longer be available for import entries.”