Welsh businesses are being warned that they could be banned from importing unless they urgently switch to a new Government computer system before the fast-approaching deadline.
Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid is issuing the warning as HMRC’s Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system is due to be replaced by the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) on October 1 for companies importing goods from abroad.
In the first quarter of 2022, the value of goods imported to Wales was £5.8 billion, an increase of 64.3% from the same period the previous year.
The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is set to serve as the UK’s single customs platform. It has already been used by businesses for imports and exports for countries outside of the European Union and declarations for Northern Ireland in recent years. It will now be used for all imports and exports.
HMRC has now announced that firms have an additional month to continue using CHIEF through their current customs intermediaries but Chambers Wales fears this will not be enough.
Drew Flowers, Director of Trade, Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said: “We’ve been working closely with many businesses in recent months to get them prepared for the change to CDS, but we still fear that many businesses are in danger of being unable to import if they don’t take steps to move to the new system immediately.
“While this one-month extension may be helpful for some who have already begun to make the transition, it quite possibly won’t be enough for those that aren’t as prepared.
“We’re urging all Welsh businesses that rely on imports to sign up to the new system right away if they haven’t already. Not only that, it’s vital that businesses also know how to operate their new account and familiarise themselves with the new elements and tariff information.”
Liam Smyth, Managing Director of ChamberCustoms, which is owned by the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The switch over from CHIEF to CDS, has been on the cards for quite some time. We began using the new system with our customers six months ago. But we are regularly hearing from traders who remain frustrated by difficulties in completing their registration.
“Many intermediaries and businesses are still not ready and we are seeing an increased demand for switchover courses with just days to go.
“A month extension will not be enough, intermediaries that have only recently had access to the CDS training system need more time to embed training, CDS is very different to CHIEF.
“If firms are shut out of CHIEF before they are ready then they will effectively be cut adrift and find themselves unable to import.
“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.
“Firms need to take action immediately and HMRC needs to look closely at the support and lead in times it is prepared to offer. Otherwise we could be looking at a cliff-edge that could hammer companies at a time when they can least afford it.”
Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid is a dedicated customs intermediary who can manage all HMRC declarations through every port. Supporting both importers and exporters, the experienced team curate end-to-end solutions and can advise on the latest technological changes and digital processes to help keep goods moving and ensure compliance at every stage.