CDS exports update and new UCC programme among key trade updates at the end of 2023

Tue 19 Dec 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

It’s the end of the year and Christmas is nearly upon us, but it’s also a time of year where it’s easy to miss key government updates that could affect how you trade.

That’s why the IOE&IT Daily Update is today providing you with a summary of recent customs and trade announcements from the UK and Europe that you need to know about.

Please note, this list is not exhaustive, and businesses should sign up to updates from the government departments that are relevant to their business.

CDS export timelines confirmed

HMRC has written to industry partners to confirm that businesses should be preparing to complete export declarations on the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) by 30 March 2024, instead of using the old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

However, while “most businesses” will be able to meet this deadline, HMRC has said that it understands that “not all customers may be able to fully migrate before the deadline”.

Because of this, HMRC will be giving businesses a period of three months to migrate to CDS from when they are told to do so. It says there will be “a robust exceptions process in place” following this period for businesses that cannot migrate due to “no fault of their own”.

It has also provided the following expected timeline of when firms can migrate to CDS:

January – most GVMS users should be making export declarations through CDS, unless their goods could be re-routed to an inventory-linked location, they use temporary storage facilities or they use a designated export place.

Early February – firms submitting export declarations for goods through inventory-linked airports should use CDS unless there is a chance that goods could be re-routed to an inventory-linked maritime location.

Early March – by this point, all firms should be able to start using CDS for export declarations, including declarations for goods submitted through inventory-linked maritime locations.

HMRC will be contacting businesses with more details about the migration in the coming weeks and months. For further advice on the CDS exports migration, review the IOE&IT’s CDS support package here.

EC announces new UCC Work Programme

The European Commission has adopted a new Union Customs Code (UCC) Work Programme that will replace the one that’s been in force since 2019.

The new programme will provide a “longer window for the implementation of certain UCC systems and distinguishes between their core and non-core elements”. The systems affected include the delivery of the updated New Computerised Transit System (or ‘NCTS5’) and the Automated Export System (AES).

This update follows concern from some EU member states about the timelines given in the 2019 programme. The programme is a key enabler of the EU’s mission to digitalise customs processes, which will both enhance security on the bloc’s external borders and better facilitate trade.

New sanctions on Russia

In a new ‘Notice to Exporters’, the government has advised that it has instigated new sanctions against the export of a range of new goods to Russia.

“The newly sanctioned items have been added to existing schedules in the 2019 Regulations, namely: 2A (critical-industry goods and critical-industry technology), 3A (luxury goods) and 3E (G7 dependency and further goods),” the notice says.

Other measures include amendments to Schedule 3C (defence and security goods, and defence and security technology), as well as an amendment to some codes in Schedule 3I (Russia’s vulnerable goods).

The notice advises that the sanctions apply to the “export, supply and delivery, and making available to, or for use in Russia” of the affected goods.

Guidance on export declaration errors

In its most recent Borders Bulletin, the Cabinet Office has advised exporters and hauliers that export declarations are being submitted incorrectly on the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) for consignments on routes that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).

HMRC said that the issues were largely to do with “a Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) Movement Reference Number (MRN) being incorrectly added to the Good Movement Reference (GMR) rather than the Declaration Unique Consignment Reference/s (DUCR).”

Businesses generating GMRs are advised to follow advice on gov.uk to make sure they are not making this error because, in this situation, their goods won’t be classed as “officially leaving the country” so they may become liable for any duty payments or penalties due.

Further information on using CDS can be found here.

Reminder on changes for Irish trade into GB

In the same bulletin, government urged businesses to “prepare for changes for goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain” that are due to come into effect from 31 January 2024.

From this time, some goods moving directly from Irish ports into Britain will face “full customs controls” with import processes needing to be completed.

This does not include goods moving from Northern Ireland into Britain directly, but import processes may need to be completed for goods moving from Northern Ireland into Britain via an Irish port if they are:

  • ‘non-qualifying’ Northern Ireland goods
  • excise goods (alcohol, tobacco, and energy products)
  • or goods which do not move directly to an Irish port once they have left Northern Ireland for example, goods which are held in storage in Ireland

Goods are classed as ‘qualifying’ if they are in free circulation in Northern Ireland, which gov.uk defines as meaning the good s are “ not under a customs procedure or in an authorised temporary storage facility - before you move them from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).”

More information can be found in the Border Target Operating Model.

In case you missed it

Customs simplifications in action

To finish, the government’s work to simplify customs procedures in the UK can sometimes seem quite technical or even abstract, but in the antiques sector, it’s already being welcomed.

The government is currently reviewing the Temporary Admission (TA) procedure through which goods are temporarily imported, without VAT being payable, provided the goods are re-exported within two years and proof of this export is provided.

Many businesses in the sector find TA a complex procedure to follow, however, with the Antiques Gazette reporting that industry bodies, led by the British Art Market Federation (BAMF), have been calling for simplifications to be made.

BAMF chair, Anthony Browne, told the Gazette:

“We are very pleased that the government is looking at this seriously. We have suggested a number of improvements and we hope very much that we will be able to discuss these with the HMRC policy team in the new year.

“If we can get improvements on TA then it will go a long way in helping solve the problem.

“Improvements should make the whole system easier and better for people to use and more in tune with current practices.”