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TSS & post-Brexit trade compliance: data, processes & automation

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JP Doggett

The adjustment to post-Brexit trading arrangements is taking up a lot of time, energy and expense so we hosted a practitioner-only discussion on Wednesday 17th February to share insights into how best to adapt.

At this stage, challenges mostly relate to fully understanding the new requirements and dealing with them as they arise but, as the situation stabilises, it will be necessary to evaluate how systems and processes should change, particularly with regard to automation.

Here are the key points from the discussion:

TSS / NI trade

  • Shared frustration about TSS’ responsiveness to questions. If there are answers, they are slow in coming and quite often contradictory
  • At the same time, participants reported regular calls from TSS for missing information and so are spending a lot of time sourcing and inputting data for quantities, codes etc.
  • Particular challenges around special licenses for dual usage goods going into the EU
  • Hauliers are struggling with the volume of TSS declarations so have pushed responsibility back to their customers
  • In the absence of clear guidance, some are changing customer incoterms to DAP as DDP is not possible for customers without an NI business address
  • Not clear how supplementary declarations will work when selling to end users who don’t have a VAT number
  • Also unclear what the requirements are for documenting / declaring onward sale of products that are delivered to distributors and resellers
  • Rules of origin: Without a fixed NI based, it’s not clear whether goods could be declared ‘at risk’ and so eligible for tariffs even with authorised trader status. Might it be possible to claim this back under Returns Goods Relief?

EU / UK trade

  • Inbound (into UK) trade is working reasonably well but has required a lot of work to prepare suppliers and link them with import agents. However, many don’t have Government Gateway accounts so the responsibility falls back onto the importing customer
  • Additional deadline of 21st April for documentation related to food going into EU
  • It appears that shipping goods back out of the UK that originated in the EU still qualifies for treatment as a third country. There’s no tariff but, in terms of administrative processes, it’s no different that goods coming in from China


  • Regarding automation of TSS processes, the understanding is that the API is still being coded so won’t be available for some time
  • TSS is currently free to but it’s not clear if it will continue to be free and for how long
  • The cost of interfacing with CDS or CHIEF is circa GBP 60k. There seems little alternative to this
  • Current period means processes are exceptional and unsettled. Therefore, it is difficult to even think about adapting systems as the jobs and processes aren't yet routine and so cannot yet be delegated
  • Once there is greater clarity and stability, it will be necessary to evaluate whether all the new third parties involved (import/export agents etc.) will be more or less cost effective than investing in automation

We will repeat this discussion session as the situation evolves. If you'd like to be notified when we confirm dates, please click here.


Glossary of acronyms:

TSS  - Trader Support Service 

Returns goods relief

DDP basis - delivered duty paid. i.e. the seller assumes all responsibility and burden for compliance. 

DAP - delivered at place

CFSP Customs Freight Simplified Procedure

CDS Customs Declaration Service - you need this to export from UK to NI

CHIEF  Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight - allows customs paperwork to be done electronically

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