HMRC has written to more than 220,000 businesses urging them to switch over to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) IT platform for submitting import declarations.
It said that firms that import goods must use CDS from 30 September this year.
The government says this date marks the first step towards fulfilling its vision of a ‘Single Trade Window’ for businesses, which it says will reduce data entry, improve data use across government and lead to a smoother user experience.
CDS has been running since 2018 and should now be used for submitting import declarations when moving goods into the UK.
It replaces the old Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.
CHIEF will stop processing export declarations on 31 March 2023, at which point the platform will permanently close, reports Public Technology, a news provider for IT professionals in the public sector.
Months to go
Carol Bristow, HMRC’s interim director general for borders and trade, said:
“There is only just over three months to go until CHIEF closes for import declarations and all businesses will need to use CDS instead.
“It is incredibly important that businesses move across to the system as soon as possible. There is plenty of support and guidance available to help businesses make the move.”
Trade expert Dr Anna Jerzewska tweeted that companies that are early to adopt CDS would have “the opportunity to practice and get used to not only the new system but also new data requirements.”
Steps to take
HMRC has sent letters and emails to companies across the country to outline the steps they must take and to signpost to online support resources. This includes the free online rehearsal service, which allows users to practise using a dummy version of the platform.
Advantages of CDS cited by HMRC include the ability to submit customs documents digitally and securely.
Traders also get real-time notifications on all declarations and movements of goods, as well as a dashboard to view account statements, make payments and control standing authority.
IOE&IT trade and customs consultant Rob Booth told today’s IOE&IT Daily Update that firms will need to take a “new approach to completing declarations and identifying data requirements on CDS”.
He encouraged businesses to work closely with intermediaries while the rehearsal service is available, using the remaining time before the September deadline to develop updated clearance instructions.
He also said traders need to register to CDS through Government Gateway, authorise a preferred payment method for duties and taxes, and review the CDS tariff to identify new data and documentary requirements.
If making their own declarations, businesses will need to authorise their software provider, map out data requirements and gain access to the rehearsal service to test the new system, he added.
An eventual aim of the wider Single Trade Window policy is for firms to be able to submit the same information to multiple government departments using the same form, rather than completing a form for each individual department.
The IOE&IT has previously alerted members to the changes ahead and offers a CDS training course to assist with the migration to the new system.