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UK Customs slows export operations through CDS due to rising outages

HMRC announces an 8-month delay in the closure of its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system for export declarations.
UK Customs slows export operations through CDS due to rising outages
Image: Martin Abegglen. Flickr. CC by 2.0

Due to a number of import outages with the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) system that have outraged traders, HMRC has extended the cut-off date for its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

The CHIEF system was set to shut down for export declarations on March 31, 2023. This has now been postponed until November 30, 2023. With a few exceptions, CHIEF was closed to import declarations on September 30, 2022.

As reported by Loadstar, the decision to delay CHIEF’s shutdown was made due to ongoing outages and messaging issues after HMRC implemented its September deadline for CDS import declarations.

Based on sources at the time, the industry was not ready for the switch to CDS, and neither it nor the software houses had been given enough time to ensure the system was ready and capable of handling the volume of declarations expected.

According to Sarah Hartley, Director of Border Change Delivery at HMRC, the delay will allow HMRC to spend more time working with the industry to test and deliver critical functionality. It will also enable more assistance to be provided to declarants who have not yet transitioned to CDS.

The CEO of the Association of International Courier and Express Services, Amanda Francis, stated: “AICES fully supports the Government’s extension of the migration timetable for exports on CDS. It is a pragmatic decision which reflects the need to ensure the new system is properly tested and stable. We particularly welcome the decision to allow operational flexibility with the phased migration of exports from CHIEF to CDS.”

Users are still having “lots of issues” with CDS, although the number of major outages appears to have decreased. According to a report by Loadstar, the delay of export migration to CDS might be due to a list of ‘known errors’ in the use of CDS for imports. A source suspects that HMRC wants to get imports working as intended before implementing CDS on exports. The source also suspects that they had also underestimated the complexities involved in exports.

HMRC will provide further information about the timeline for CDS exports by the end of January 2023.

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