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Freight operators have welcomed HMRC’s decision to delay implementation of the Transitional Simplified Procedures for customs (TSP) in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Announced in February, the TSP matches trader numbers against trailers and postpones payment of import duties – but only for ro-ro traffic.

TSP met with a fierce backlash from haulage operators who claimed the arrangements prioritised new applicants for authorisation, and forwarder association Bifa was particularly vocal in its disdain.

It seems this opposition has paid off, today’s announcement confirming that supplementary customs declarations and associated payments will now not be required until 4 October.

Bifa director general Robert Keen said: “Having criticised HMRC when it originally published the TSP, we welcome today’s news.

“We also welcome the news that TSP will be available for any port or airport where goods are being brought into the UK from the EU, not just ro-ro ports.

“But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.”

Prior to amendments to the TSP, it appeared that the easements it had originally sought to implement would make it easier for new applicants than existing operators to obtain authorisation.

However, both Bifa and the FTA said it seemed the “equivalent liberalisation” was not in place for existing operators and forwarders.

Head of multimodal policy at the FTA Alex Veitch told The Loadstar following the initial launch of TSP that it was a “dramatic simplification”, but needed to be expanded.

“The problem here is the TSPs only apply to shippers – we have confirmed this through HMRC – and shippers often have no control over how goods are transported,” he said.

“Forwarders may transport by air, container or unaccompanied trailer, meaning the shipper will have signed up for a TSP and then be required to go through full customs checks.

“There is the potential for shippers to be pushing for goods to go by ro-ro when other options are more suitable, which could create more delays.”

Mr Keen said that with the extended deadline, operators will have more time to make “necessary” preparations and fully test the systems that would be required.

Furthermore, he noted the extensions would make it possible to establish communication links along the supply chain and ensure “everyone” was aware of their responsibilities.

“This is a very significant easement of policy and one for which Bifa, amongst others, lobbied hard to ensure all modes were treated equally,” he continued.

“It should be noted that much confusion and effort could have been saved if government had consulted with the trade in the first place.

“By allowing freight forwarders to operate TSP, the extension recognises the critical role that the freight forwarder plays as an intermediary in the UK’s supply chain,” he said.

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