Customs Declaration Service (CDS) Update (27/04/2020)

Sean Turner

Sean Turner – VAT and Transport and Logistics Specialist
DD: +44 (0)207 465 1908

Update on the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) implementation – pragmatic approach by HMRC

We have recently heard that the freight forwarding industry has welcomed HMRC’s decision to extend the cut-off date for its online Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system beyond September 2020.

As previously reported, the industry considered that the previously published timetable was unrealistic, particularly as the UK is now in the process of leaving the European Union.  The current position with the coronavirus outbreak has clearly made matters worse.

What has changed?

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In addition to the extended CHIEF cut-off date, transition to CDS, originally scheduled for the start of 2021, will now be delayed.  It is understood that CHIEF will continue to operate beyond 2020, with both CHIEF and CDS accepting declarations.  Businesses will only be able to commence migration to the new service, when CDS achieves the target Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Community Systems Providers (CSPs) and software houses are then able to interface their product to it.

Once a business has started transitioning from CHIEF, this is expected to take three months.  However, businesses have expressed concern that, to begin transitioning, if CDS is not fully ready, with a three month requirement to complete the transition, this offers little incentive to commence the process, if it ties them to a system that is not fit for purpose.  Businesses require clarity on the transitioning arrangements and flexibility from HMRC in the event that CDS offers only partial capability.  In conjunction with this, time must be allowed for the link-up with the inventory side, which must also be ready and thoroughly tested by the software houses building software bridges between systems.

HMRC removed the migration timetable from its CDS toolkit on 15 April 2020 and a new timetable is to be published shortly.

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