In 2013–14, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) started planning to replace its customs system, known as Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), following changes to European Union (EU) legislation which would have been costly and difficult to make on CHIEF’s ageing technology. HMRC is replacing CHIEF with a new Customs Declaration Service (CDS). Planning for the new system started before the EU referendum in June 2016. HMRC maintains that the programme is on track and is well governed. However, HMRC admits that major risks remain, which means that CDS might not be fully operating by the planned date of January 2019. HMRC highlights four major risk areas: integrating the eight CDS system components; testing CDS to ensure it can correctly handle the potential increase to 255 million declarations every year; migrating traders from the existing CHIEF service to CDS; and ensuring that users are ready to make customs declarations in the new system. But HMRC’s timetable is incredibly tight given the amount of work still to do. HMRC will only know by July 2018 whether the system works as intended, which is only one month before the first traders start to use it, and gives very little time to take remedial action if anything goes wrong.
13 November 2017