CCS-UK keeps industry running during CHIEF outage

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CCS-UK Electronic Fallback kept UK airfreight traffic flowing when a long CHIEF outage disrupted normal operations for over 14 hours on June 22.

BT – which operates the CCS-UK community system –  invoked the CCS-UK Electronic Fallback routine enabling forwarders, transit sheds operators and airlines to continue operating without interruption.

The CCS-UK Electronic Fallback system is designed to prevent the potentially catastrophic impact of a failure of HMRC’s CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) system by granting authourised traders in the UK delegated clearance to export and import goods. This avoids backlogs in UK air freight that would result from reverting to a manual system for processing Customs clearances.

The Electronic Fallback system was developed in collaboration with the UK industry, and is fully approved by HMRC. It can function for a continuous CHIEF outage of up to 30 days, allowing plenty of time for HMRC’s system to be restored.

Says CCS-UK User Group programme director Guy Thompson: “Airfreight is all about urgency, so no delays are acceptable. In this recent outage, those agents, handlers and airlines that used the Electronic Fallback service were very successful in maintaining export and import flows, clearly illustrating its value to the air cargo industry and to our overall economy.

“Unfortunately, not enough forwarders took advantage of the service. While a manual fallback process is available and was used, its operation is far more onerous on Freight Forwarders and Transit shed operators  than the electronic alternative provided by CCS-UK. We would therefore like to encourage more forwarders to check out the service, which is free to all CCS-UK users. Our web site contains downloadable guidance notes that fully explain how the system works.”

He concludes: “We are working with HMRC to implement an industry live trial to ensure that the air cargo industry will be better prepared for any future failure of CHIEF.”