1. CHIEF:Customs processing in the UK is presently handled by a system called Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF). HMRC’s CHIEF system manages the declaration and movement of goods into and out of the UK, calculates and collects revenue. Currently, declarations can be filed manually or electronically.It also allows for UK traders to communicate with other EU customs systems and connects with the EU Import Control System, which shares security and safety data. Furthermore, it integrates with the goods scheduling system at UK ports and airports.CHIEF is written in old technologies (written in COBOL and it communicates via EDIFACT) and is being upgraded to a new system is called the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).
  2. CDS:The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) was made necessary due to CHIEF becoming unmodifiable and the wide ranging changes needed to implement the EU’s new Union Customs Code (UCC).
  3. UCC:Union Customs Code (UCC) is a common set of customs processes to be adopted by all EU members.The UCC’s broad aims include streamlining and standardising customs procedures across EU Member States, and ensuring full digitalisation of EU customs services.

Key Brexit Risks:

With the exponential increase in declarations that Brexit (and in particular, leaving the EU Customs Union) will bring, it is imperative that the UK brings CDS online before we leave the EUCU.

However, not only is the CDS running behind schedule (from what we have read), but given that we don’t know what the key variables of our relationship with the EU are going to be (tariffs, quotas, customs checks for valuation, rules of origin and security), it is almost impossible to have the new system ready for 2019.

This is one of the many reasons why a healthy transition period is necessary, if we do leave the Single Market and Customs Union.