HMRC launch new Customs Declaration Service

HMRC begins launch of new Customs Declaration Service

The government has announced it has successfully implemented the first software release for its new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).
The new CDS will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system over three phases between August 2018 and early 2019. According to HMRC, the new system will “meet the requirements of the Union Customs Code (UCC), support the anticipated future import and export growth of the UK, and provide businesses with access to more of their customs information in one place”.
Following implementation of the first release of CDS earlier this week, a select group of importers have started making certain types of supplementary declarations on CDS but the majority of importers will start using CDS from November, once their own software provider or in-house IT team has completed development of CDS-compatible software. Exporters will follow after this. CHIEF will continue to operate in parallel while the transition of traders takes place.
Kevin Franklin, HMRC’s Customs Transformation Programme Director, said: “The first release of the new Customs Declaration Service is a major milestone. Going live on time is a great step to fully introducing the new system and is testament to the hard work of both HMRC staff and our partners.
“We have been engaging closely with trade representatives including software developers, Community System Providers, freight forwarders, and traders themselves about CDS and we value the support from these organisations in preparing importers and exporters for the upcoming changes. Our priority now is to make sure software developers, agents and their clients are ready and we will continue to work closely with them throughout the transition."
HRMC said CDS will be scaled to handle any potential increases in the volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s exit from the EU. 
Commenting Brad Ashton, customs and international trade partner at RSM said: “It’s hard to overestimate the importance of this project for HMRC – and for the nation’s importers and exporters.
“The new Customs Declaration Service was planned well before the referendum, but our imminent exit from the EU has made the successful implementation of the CDS programme absolutely vital.
“Depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, an additional 145,000 companies who trade solely with the EU might be required to make customs declarations for the first time starting in March next year.
“Post Brexit, the number of customs declarations is expected to increase from around 55 million currently to around 255 million each year.
“It’s important to note that this is only a partial launch with further functionality earmarked for rollout in November and December. Timing is therefore very tight indeed, and there’s a real risk of there being too little time to resolve any operational or system issues that may occur before the final roll-out.
“Now is the time for importers and exporters to have discussions with their freight service providers with regards to transitioning to the CDS.”
More information on how HRMC will introduce CDS is available here