BIFA welcomes new approach to new customs system roll out

By Damian Brett

Robert Keen, BIFA director general

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has welcomed a review of the timetable for implementation of the UK’s new customs declarations processing system.

BIFA said that UK Customs (HMRC) will now implement a dual-running of both the new (CDS) and existing (CHIEF) systems until confident that the new system is fully developed, stable and tested.

Previously it had planned to switch over to the new system at some point in 2019, or at least in time for the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Yesterday, software firm Agency Sector Management (ASM) said the implementation date had now been knocked back until 2021.

BIFA director general, Robert Keen, said: “In 2019, when HMRC announced its proposed plan for completing delivery of the new customs declaration system (CDS) and migrating traders from CHIEF to the new platform, we expressed the view, shared with community service providers (CSP) and other software developers, that the timetable would be challenging.

“HMRC appears intent on having IT systems and customs processes in place that will not compromise the integrity of the border, or the flow of international trade.

“However, we don’t think that it would be appropriate to comment further until there is an official government announcement on the matter with regard to the changeover from CHIEF to CDS and the appropriate time frames.”

Keen added: “The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, has clearly stated that full import customs declarations would have to be submitted – there is to be no differentiation between regulatory procedures for imports/exports between the UK and EU and Rest of the World.” 

BIFA reiterated comments made by others that there is insufficient infrastructure and information in place at present to support the lodgement of import safety and security checks.

In fact, BIFA members regard this as the most significant customs-related issue to facilitating the flow of goods to and from the EU.

BIFA is also seeking clarification on whether postponed VAT accounting will be introduced on import consignments, as this is another area that is causing concerns for its members, due to the need to fund the increased guarantees required to underpin duty deferment accounts.

Keen added that with the UK now outside the EU, and the transitional period which ends on the December 31 2020 underway, the development of the new core CDS is only one part of what is now a much bigger jigsaw.

Whilst having significant concerns regarding certain elements of the outcome of Brexit, BIFA is glad that there is now clear outline clarity with regard to Brexit and will work via its member institutions with the government to ensure as successful an outcome as possible.

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