UK businesses feel increasingly prepared for the introduction of a new IT system for submitting customs declarations, a new poll has found.
The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is replacing the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system in stages, with importers no longer able to use CHIEF from the end of the month (30 September).
Although HMRC has this week confirmed that businesses can apply for an extension in case of technical difficulties adopting CDS, a poll of attendees at a free webinar yesterday (21 September) suggests most won’t need this.
The majority of delegates (59%) said they would feel “very prepared” or “quite prepared” when asked if they would feel ready to start using CDS today.
The webinar, hosted by the Institute of Export & International Trade, recapped what traders need to do to prepare for the switchover and included an extended Q&A session.
A third (34%) said they would feel “not very prepared” or “not at all prepared” with the remainder (6%) saying they weren’t sure how to respond to the question.
The poll results mark an increased readiness among traders, with only 40% saying they felt prepared for the switchover at a similar webinar in August, which itself was an increase on a 22% figure for the same poll in May.
Although firms are feeling increasingly ready for the switchover, only 40% of delegates are already using CDS, compared to 46% who are not, although this was an increase on the August webinar when only a fifth of attendees had already started using the new system.
“Just because the deadline for implementation is 1 October, that doesn’t mean you can’t already be using CDS,” said Matt Vick, a customs and trade specialist at the IOE&IT, said in response to the poll on the webinar.
“It’s quite a prudent move to start using the new system before the deadline so you can get used to it,” he added.
CHIEF will close for imports on 1 October and for exports on 31 March next year.
The government this week confirmed that importers can apply to continue using CHIEF until 31 October, but Vick advised that the extension is not a “catch all” which any trader can benefit from.
“The extension is only for scenarios where you can prove that you cannot make that switch. This is usually going to be due to technical issues – for example, issues getting access through your Government Gateway account.
“What HMRC is not going to permit is firms applying for an extension because they’re not comfortable with some of the processes.
“In those instances they will push you to the guidance its provided or the support from organisations like the IOE&IT.”
Vick also mentioned the IOE&IT’s CDS support package, which puts together a range of solutions to help support businesses getting to grips with the new system.
The package includes a new CDS helpdesk, expert-led one-day training courses, CDS trade surgeries and consultancies, as well as answers to traders’ frequently asked questions.