Importers offered one month extra to adopt new system

Businesses that import are being offered an extra month to move over to the Customs Declaration Service. Here's how to adopt the new system

HMRC has offered businesses an extra month to adopt a new computer system for customs declarations over concerns that too many firms aren’t ready.

Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) was due to close on September 30 after three decades in operation. It will be replaced by the Customs Declaration Service.

At the beginning of August, 3,500 companies were still to register and yesterday HMRC published a form on its site for businesses to use if they need an extension.

It says: “If you’ve been unable to migrate to the Customs Declaration Service to make import declarations you will need to ask permission to temporarily use CHIEF from 1 October 2022.”

“The arrangements we’re making to enable those who need a little extra time to migrate will ensure that there is no disruption to trade flow,” a spokeswoman for HMRC said.

Liam Smyth, managing director of ChamberCustoms, has concerns that the extension may not go far enough. “If firms are shut out of CHIEF before they are ready then they will effectively be cut adrift and find themselves unable to import,” he said. “With all the other cost pressures and supply chain disruption businesses have been facing, it is perhaps unsurprising that some have yet to act, but it is now getting to crunch time.”

The move comes ahead of a busier retail season with Black Friday and Christmas expecting to increase sales.

How do I move to the Customs Declaration Service?

You’ll need to:

  • Apply for an EORI number (if you don’t have one already)
  • Subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service
  • Choose which payment method to use
  • Inform your customs broker or agent if necessary

Find out more at the government’s Trader Checklist – moving to the Customs Declaration Service. HMRC has a whole Customs Declaration Service playlist on YouTube, starting with the video below.

Further reading

Import duty explained

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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