HMRC begins roll-out of new Customs Declaration Service

HMRC begins roll-out of new Customs Declaration Service

Chairman | Association of Freight Software Suppliers

This year will see a number of important changes which will impact on all those companies moving goods into, out and through the UK. System developers and AFSS have been actively engaged in discussions with HMRC on the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) for more than two years and many AFSS members are now engaged in the first-stage testing of CDS. CDS will begin to replace CHIEF in 2018 with the first stage of implementation planned for later in the year.
 
The replacement of CHIEF has been necessary in order to meet the future needs of government and ensure that the service is operated using the latest technology available. CDS will also introduce the new generation of messages, although much of these will be invisible to the user. What will be apparent to the user are the changes to some of the data elements to be introduced as part of CDS. These changes will enable the data elements set out in the Union Customs Code (UCC) to be implemented in order to meet UCC transitional regulations. 
 
Although the UK will have left the EU before the end of the transitional period, many of the UCC’s technical changes, message types and data elements will be adopted into UK legislation. This will enable the UK to meet both the WCO standards and use data elements common to many of our global trading partners.
 
The extent of the move from CHIEF to CDS should not be underestimated. AFSS members, together with Community Service Providers, will discuss with their customers in the coming months the most appropriate method to migrate from CHIEF to CDS. There will be a period of dual-running when both CHIEF and CDS will operate. The key requirement for dual-running is that any declaration started on either system must end on the same system.
 
As well as the ongoing work by many AFSS members to migrate to CDS, the impact of leaving the EU remains an important factor in determining the volume of declarations that will be undertaken in the traders’ systems after we leave the EU. Software suppliers will need to ensure that not only will their systems have the technical capacity to handle increased volumes, but their support resources are also increased where required.
 
Despite the plans to leave the EU, AFSS will continue to maintain strong links with its affiliate trade association in Europe, EurTradeNet (ETN). AFSS and ETN have worked in close collaboration since the affiliation started in 2014 and ETN is a member of the Trade Contact Group which represents many of the European trade sectors in meetings with Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD) and the World Customs Organization.
 
With the increased dependency on technology in the daily operation of the freight and logistics business, so increases the need to ensure systems are secure. Although the reliability of systems and software has improved vastly over the quarter of a century since AFSS was formed, the impact should any of the systems be unavailable has a significant effect on the traders’ ability to conduct their business. Unfortunately over the last few years we have seen large organisations badly affected as a result of system outages.
 
This covers a wide range of industries and business types. The freight and logistics industry is no more vulnerable than many but the risk can be mitigated with the introduction of ‘disaster recovery’ provisions. These enable the service to continue with minimal interruption by using different locations and networks to host the services provided to the customer.
 
Many organisations have taken additional steps recently to protect their systems from malicious or unintended interference. The risk was further highlighted last year when key systems were left vulnerable to attack and the subsequent disruption was then reported by both the international and trade press.
 
With the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation this year additional security measures should be considered in order to ensure personal data is secure. As I have also mentioned in previous articles, planning and developing disaster recovery, data backup and fallback systems, together with the operation of crisis control systems, should now form part of basic system requirements. 
 
Use your software supplier to give you advice and guidance on the best options that are available to you. Identify cost-effective methods to secure your systems from any disruption that may result from not only technical disruption but as a result of events outside the control of your business. 
 
For more information, visit: www.afss.org.uk