HMRC has delayed the introduction of its new import/export system following consultation with the border industry, resulting in more uncertainty for freight companies.

Hauliers importing and exporting goods were warned last year to switch from the government’s existing customs handling import and export (CHIEF) system to the customs declarations service (CDS) by 1 October 2022, with the intention that the services would go live on 30 March 2023.

However, HMRC said exporters will now have until 30 November to move across to CDS, eight months later than previously announced.

Sarah Hartley, director of border change delivery at HMRC, said: “We have moved the deadline to enable us to spend more time working with industry in delivering and testing critical functionality as well as the support needed to help declarants move across to the new system.

“The extra time also allows businesses and stakeholders more time to prepare their customers and software products for the November deadline.”

Richard Litchfield, MD of software development firm Forward Solutions, said the switch over was always going to be turbulent.

“The previous system and way of working had been in place for many years, and, so, a six-month window for all freight companies to make the switch was an optimistic deadline,” he said. “The choice to delay was a sensible decision from HMRC, as it gives companies more time to fully understand the new system and allow for a smoother transition, giving service providers, traders and agents like us, to develop systems and software that will work from day one, rather than a troubled launch.”