UK freight forwarders welcome Customs fallback system

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Cargo is loaded on to a freighter

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has welcomed news that an electronic back-up system that would prevent the impact of a systems failure by the HMRC CHIEF (customs handling of import and export freight) system has received approval from the UK Government.

BIFA Director General, Robert Keen says: “Although the back-up system has been in existence for about a year, it is good to hear that it has now received formal Customs approval and is ready for use to prevent any meltdown in the event of a prolonged outage of HMRC’s computer systems.”

CCS-UK Fallback is the new electronic back-up system revealed on 29 June by the CCS-UK air cargo electronic community allowing authorised traders to continue processing Customs export declarations in the event of any significant system outage, and receive automatic fallback clearance to ship goods without delay.

Import entries will also receive fallback clearance, avoiding the backlogging that would result from manual customs clearance.

Keen adds: “In the last week, with the situation at Maersk, we have seen evidence of the problems that can occur when computer systems are disrupted.

“Our older members will recall when the British airport computerised cargo clearance system, UKAS was scrapped in the mid 1980s after users at UK airports were thrown into chaos as the system proved totally incapable of handling the volume of Customs entries.”

“We will now be encouraging our members to work with the specialist IT systems providers that they use to undertake Customs entries to update their products to take advantage of this new feature, and make sure that all their staff are ready to use the new function should they need to.”

Designed by BT for CCS-UK, the fallback system – once triggered – will function for up to 30 days; as soon as CHIEF returns to normal operation, CCS-UK Fallback will transmit all stored entries for processing in the normal way.