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HMRC plans Customs Declaration Service launch in August



Move marks step towards filling post-Brexit demands on customs IT systems

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has said it will begin a phased launch of its new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in August, marking a significant step in the development of IT systems to cope with a new customs regime after the UK leaves the EU.

It is planning to roll out CDS up to early next year with the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to run alongside it during the transition.

The announcement has come months after National Audit Office warned of significant risks if CDS is not in place before Brexit. It estimated that post-Brexit, the number of customs declarations at UK ports could increase from 55 million to 255 million per year. CHIEF is only capable of handling up to 100 million. 

The decision to replace CHIEF with CDS was made before the EU referendum, but HMRC said the latter can be scaled up to handle an increase in the number of declarations.

Among the differences is that CDS will be accessed on GOV.UK using a Government Gateway account, and if traders use a customs declaration software they will need to follow the instructions from the supplier.

New services

It will also include new services, such as the ability to view previous import and export data on predefined reports, check the tariff, apply for new authorisations and simplifications, and check their duty deferment statement.

There will also be online self-service tools, guides and checklists.

Other details will be changed, including the warehouse type code list, unit of quantity codes and the maximum number of items on a declaration – up from 99 to 999.

A further warning of the risks of a delayed roll out came last month, when Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee highlighted the possible negative effects on food imports and exports.

Image: Dover Ferry Port from John Fielding, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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