Agency Sector Management (ASM) is working on contingency plans for businesses affected by the new UK’s Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in the wake that a full roll-out of the new system might be delayed.

CDS is due to replace the current Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system in phases by January 2019, but there is uncertainty whether the new system will be fully ready by the intended deadline.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is now trialling a dual system that will use parts of CDS alongside parts of CHIEF until the new service is fully rolled out, and ASM is working closely with HMRC to ensure its Sequoia Customs clearance software is also ready at the time of the go-live.
“We have been working hard for more than a year now modifying Sequoia, our Customs clearance software, to support these huge changes, but many features in the new system are yet to be made available which means delays are likely,” said Peter MacSwiney, ASM Chairman.
“We will continue doing all we can to support businesses through the transition, as well as consulting with HMRC to ensure industry concerns are properly taken into account.”
CDS is replacing CHIEF because the information needed to complete Customs declarations in the UK is changing under the Union Customs Code (the UCC).
The new system is being built to manage 300 million customs declarations a year – nearly six times the 55 million CHIEF handles now – with a peak of 100 declarations per second.
“A lot of standing data and business rules have not been uploaded nor tested in CDS yet, and it is our experience that it takes a lot of time to test and ‘tweak’ these to make them work properly, meaning HMRC deadlines may be missed,” added MacSwiney.
“As the CDS roll-out continues, we will continue with upgrades to Sequoia until we are satisfied that everything is working well and meets the industry’s requirements, and we are also working closely with HMRC to ensure the success of this project.”
ASM has been hosting a Customs Roadshow jointly with HMRC and the British International Freight Association (BIFA) across the UK, which has seen hundreds of businesses attending seminars to learn about the CDS and voice their concerns.
The Customs Roadshow was expanded with extra seminars due to the high demand.