The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has raised concerns over the development of a new computer system that is set to replace the existing system for processing customs declarations in the UK.
Robert Keen, BIFA’s Director General, complained that progress has been inconsistent and that industry stakeholders have not been sufficiently involved in the development process.
“Our single greatest concern is that currently the development process does not involve representatives of the end-user,” Keen said in a press release. “This is a dangerous oversight because it is the end-user who will determine what will actually work in practice, particularly as IT developers have been flagging up a lack of clarity regarding data elements.”
Keen also said that “despite initial assurances from HMRC to the contrary, it is clear that the new system will require more significant changes to commercial software systems than previously envisaged.”
All traders will be required to migrate from the existing system, Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), to the new Customs Declaration System (CDS) by September 2020. CHIEF will be turned off in March 2021.
However, given the tight schedule, BIFA has challenged HMRC to identify all problem areas so that the new system can be launched in stable and tested form, using end-user feedback to ensure that it is effective in practice.
Potential issues include the greater amounts of data that will be collected, and the added complexity of new requirements—for example, the replacement of the LIC 99, a license waiver for all types of goods, with different waivers for individual types of licensed goods. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit also looms.
Keen said: “In this scenario it has to be accepted by all that the implementation of CDS will have to be delayed whilst we are using existing systems to facilitate cargo movements and communicating with the various government agencies to allow them to perform their role to collect revenues without compromising the integrity of the border, the flow of international trade, or frontier security.”