IOE and IT trade expert looks at the customs changes you need to know about this year

Fri 13 Jan 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

Trader studying documents on laptop at desk

The year ahead is likely to be a challenging one for many traders, with the UK forecast to enter an economic recession and the WTO expecting global trade growth to slow.

Businesses are grappling with the impacts of inflation and other after-effects from Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine, but interim IOE&IT Academy director Vicky Payne has warned traders not to “cut corners” when it comes to compliance.

Talking to the IOE&IT Daily Update about how members can succeed in international trade in 2023, she says:

“The last thing any business wants in this climate is to be stopped from trading because they’ve tried to cut corners to save costs and have ended up trading in a non-compliant way.

“Supply chain issues ultimately impact your business’ bottom line. If you’re exporting well, this will help increase your sales. If you’re struggling with your bills, not investing in compliance won’t help; it will just result in non-compliance and your trade being stopped.”

Changes in 2023

In an ever-changing regulatory landscape following Brexit, Payne argues that businesses need to be continually reviewing and updating their trade processes to ensure ongoing compliance.

She points out a number of changes that are due to be coming in across 2023 that could affect traders, particularly the requirement for exporters to start using the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) from November. She explains:

“The CHIEF-to-CDS migration is really important for exporters because, if you’re not ready to use it, you won’t be able to export your goods.

“We saw with the migration for importers that getting the right training in advance of the deadline is really important and the same will be true for exporters this year. Preparing for it also includes updating your internal systems and ensuring that the third party intermediaries you use are ready too.”

Other changes for traders to look out for include:

  • The government’s publication of its new model for import controls (the Target Operating Model) that is expected in the coming months
  • The passing of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill through Parliament
  • The introduction of a UK Single Trade Window
  • Changes to the UK Tariff and associated online tools
  • Updates to the EU’s Import Control System (ICS)
  • The fifth phase of development of the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS 5)
  • The introduction of the Developing Countries Trading Scheme in place of the Generalised System of Preferences

Payne also reminded businesses that the UK has introduced the UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark, which will replace the EU’s equivalent CE mark. Businesses can continue using the CE mark on applicable goods up until the end of 2024, but it is advised that businesses start preparing to use the UKCA mark earlier, as there are various product testing requirements for companies to follow.


The government is looking to accelerate plans to digitise trade documentation and checks for goods entering Britain with the new Target Operating Model for import controls, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill and the introduction of the Single Trade Window.

Payne acknowledges that these initiatives do not pose any immediate requirements, but advised traders to prepare themselves for a more digital trading environment. She says:

“Keep an eye on digital trade. Make sure you’ve audited your internal systems and processes in preparation for any updates that may be required in the future.

“Getting a compliance health check with the IOE&IT is a great starting point, and we’re also now delivering training on digital documentation and digital identification too.”

Getting help

Compliance is an important investment but there are tools and solutions, provided by government, that allow firms to more efficiently manage administrative costs and duty liabilities around trade.

Payne reminds members that they can access to the technical helpline as well as discounted access on consultancy and training from the IOE&IT to use legitimate authorisations such as inward and outward processing, simplified declaration procedures and authorised economic operator status.

“We’ve got consultants who can guide and support you in assessing if these authorisations will benefit your business.

“There’s the technical helpline for specific queries and you can take our face-to-face training courses too, where you can ask questions.”

Payne also adds that the IOE&IT will soon be launching a new suite of e-learning courses on customs processes and authorisations, allowing trade professionals to learn about them at their own pace and in their own time.