11. Non-availability of computer systems: fallback

11.1 Introduction

For a variety of reasons there may be occasions where the CHIEF computer and/or the local computerised inventory control system is not available. The procedures which will be introduced in these circumstances are known as ‘fallback’.

Fallback procedures may involve manual processing of declarations and/or other documents by customs. To assist this processing, declarations and related forms may need to be completed differently, and/or other forms may need completing- see below for details.

If the local computerised inventory control system is not available special procedures will apply. Even if the inventory system is available, the operation of these general instructions might cause certain problems with recovery which require the operation of a modified procedure. As local system differ from place to place these special procedures will be notified by the collector.

11.2 Accounting procedures

When the CHIEF computer system is not available, all locations (such as DTICIE and Manual) may be affected and revised accounting procedures may have to be introduced. This may affect entry processing procedures and the production and distribution of, for example, FAS and deferment statements. If revised accounting procedures have to be introduced, instructions will be issued to affected traders by the collector.

11.3 Notice to traders

Notice that the computerised entry processing system (CHIEF) is not available and that fallback procedures are to be introduced will be given to traders in each locality by the collector, in association with the local computer system operator. Notification of restoration of the system and the ending of fallback procedures will similarly be given.

11.4 Types of fallback procedures

There are 2 types of fallback procedures, short term (when the system isn’t available for up to 24 hours), and long term (when the system isn’t available for over 24 hours). Short term procedures allow for the manual clearance of goods during fallback but require that the declaration information is later keyed into the computer system. Long term procedures don’t require the declaration information to be keyed in.

11.5 Entry forms

When short term fallback procedures are introduced entry forms should still be completed in the normal way. CIE and Manual procedures are not affected by short term fallback procedures.

When long term fallback procedures are introduced, declarations are to be completed as if they were being presented at a manual location and modified as follows:

  • all declarations and copy declarations presented to customs are to be marked in red in the top right hand corner ‘FALLBACK’
  • at inventory linked locations all declarations are to be accompanied by a manual removal note (form C130 or similar locally approved form)
  • form C21 should not be used – if revenue charges are found to be due on consignments for which a clearance request would normally be lodged, the examining officer will issue form C102A, in triplicate to the paying agent, payment is to be made to the appropriate cashier who will return 2 copies of the form C102A to the paying agent

These must then be presented to the examining officer to obtain clearance of the goods.

CAP Imports

Electronic and paper CAP licence details should be included on the declaration, in Box 44. Copies of paper licences must also be sent to the NCH for stamping.

The NCH will return this copy which must be presented along with the original to your nearest office for the stamp to be transferred.

11.6 DTI fallback committee

In long established DTI locations it has been found that the creation of a fallback committee is useful for the smooth introduction to, and recovery from, fallback procedures.

The committee is made up of representatives from the local systems operator, customs and other trade bodies. It advises and takes decisions on all matters relating to fallback. Ideally, the decision making group should be quite small but should not stop wider representation to plan procedures for implementation and dissemination of information. The committee will need contact points in all companies represented so that decisions may be communicated with the greatest speed and certainty.

Any special arrangements relating to CHIEF would be separately notified to the local trading EU by the collector.

11.7 DTI Categories of fallback

The committee may well decide to categorise declarations according to the anticipated length of the break in service, and issue instructions in advance for each category. A possible breakdown into categories is:

  • break in service of less than 1 hour
  • break in service of 1 to 24 hours (short term fallback)
  • break in service of more than 24 hours anticipated (long term fallback)

11.8 DTI system unavailable for less than 1 hour, or limited in availability

Usually fallback procedures will not need to be introduced. Traders should apply to the appropriate customs office for clearance of consignments of special urgency.

Occasionally an interruption to the system may occur for a short time only during peak hours of working, not requiring fallback procedures to be adopted. During such times a one-line broadcast will be sent to the system, such as ‘system in recovery – please make essential inputs only’.

11.9 DTI Short term fallback procedures

Entry forms and clearance requests (Including plain paper versions)

The declaration or clearance request is to be prepared in the normal manner. The form, accompanied by a form C1402 (F) Copy 1 and a manual removal note (form C130 or similar local form), is to be lodged at the usual customs office with the normal supporting documents. A duplicate of the entry or clearance request, and form C1402 (F) Copy 2 is to be retained by the agent.

If release of the goods is required and charges are payable, form C1402 (F) Copy 1 should be noted with the type of security being offered – for example deferment, bond, guarantee, deposit. Acceptance of this security is subject to the collector’s approval.

On resumption of service the charges due will be collected in the normal way and the security offered will (where appropriate) be cancelled or refunded.


As soon as practicable after the system recovers, the information contained on the duplicate declaration or customs clearance request is to be input to the system in the normal manner. If the original declaration has been amended, the amended version must be input. If the declaration is not accepted by the computer, any necessary amendments are to be made and a form C20X (obtained from the NCH) completed, listing the amendments.

When the declaration is accepted, the output E2 (and E1 if produced) is to be attached to the form C1402 (F) Copy 2. The declaration is to be signed and the form lodged with any forms C20X (obtained from the NCH) within the agent’s normal time out period.

Changes to rate of exchange or rates of charges

The rate of exchange and the rates of any charges payable are those current at the time of acceptance of the paper declaration by customs. If, between the lodging of the paper declaration and the subsequent inputting of the details from the duplicate declaration, there have been changes which affect any charges on the declaration, the charges obtaining at the time of lodging the paper declaration must be calculated and shown in Box 47 of the declaration. A form C20X (obtained from the NCH) should be completed showing these amendments and submitted with the form C1402 (F) Copy 2.

11.10 DTI long term fallback procedures

Declarations and clearance requests (Including plain paper versions)

Form C21 should not to be used. Declarations are to be completed as if they were being presented at manual locations – see entry forms.

Presentation of declarations

Declarations are to be presented to the appropriate customs office accompanied by a manual removal note (form C130 or similar locally approved form). Local instructions:

  • will detail how and where the forms are to be presented
  • may require that the declarations be listed on local schedules before presentation
  • will explain how traders will be advised of route selection and declarations numbers


After restoration of the system, fallback procedures will continue at inventory linked EPUs for consignments that were received when the system was not available. After a period, which the local fallback committee will specify at the time, transit shed operators will be required to input details of consignments received during the period of failure and for which a declaration has not been made. The use of fallback procedures for declarations will then cease.

11.11 DTI queries and amendments

Form C20X (obtained from the NCH) will be used for the notification of queries and amendments.

11.12 DTI Clearance

Clearance will be notified by the issue of the manual removal note.

11.13 DTI uncleared declarations input when the system was available

If clearance is required for uncleared declarations input when the system was available a manual removal note (form C130 or similar locally approved form) stating the declaration number, date and route, is to be presented to the place where the declaration was originally lodged.

12. NCH Interim CHIEF Import Fallback Arrangements

12.1 Introduction

This information forms the basis of how the NCH will deal with CHIEF outages for Imports. It is considered a short term solution in the absence of agreed National Fallback arrangements.

This will not cover every eventuality and the NCH roster duty manager, with NCH senior management, will still have the authority to deal with any situation that arises in the most appropriate manner.

12.2 Timescales

All of the procedures listed refer to short term fallback only and will allow for the manual processing of goods during CHIEF downtime.

Short Term Fallback is for outages of up to 4 hours only. Any system disruption that continues for over 4 hours will require further detailed arrangements.

Long term fallback requires Grade 7 approval or above, and the decision to invoke this will be made by either an NCH or ECSM Senior Manager.

12.3 Imports Short Term Fallback

For the first 4 hours of any outage the NCH will only clear entries as follows:

Under 1 hour – on presentation of entry paperwork or a completed form C1402 fallback requestform C130 manual release note, manual C88 and supporting docs, clearance will be given to:

  • life or death consignments only
  • serum
  • transplant tissue
  • medical radioactive for hospitals, pacemakers

Between 2-4 hours – on presentation of entry paperwork or a completed C1402 fallback request, C130 manual release note, manual C88 and supporting documents, clearance will also be given to:

  • live animals
  • human remains
  • urgent medical supplies on dry ice
  • dangerous goods
  • firearms
  • explosives on key side
  • extremely high value goods (for example, artwork)
  • perishable goods
  • aircraft on ground

For the port of Dover only – after 1 hour the NCH will liaise with UKBA and put in place a local fallback arrangement which UKBA will manage.

After 4 hours, and with the agreement of the NCH senior managers, the NCH will continue to require presentation of paperwork for the above categories but all other consignments will be allowed to be cleared.

These would effectively be route 6s and importers/agents will have to guarantee to submit all paperwork once the CHIEF Service is restored.

All of the above may be a challenge for the NCH to achieve and if work volumes became a problem, then priority will continue to be given to the above categories of goods and airfreight traffic.

12.4 Emergency NCH contact details

NCH Help Desk Telephone: 03000 588 454

NCH Fax: 0800 496 0699

Email: NCHLAP@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

The NCH senior managers will take responsibility for liaising with ECSM CHIEF Operations, Aspire, IMS Live Services and others and will communicate updates back to the NCH duty manager.

  1. In circumstances where some goods covered by the declared commodity code require a licence and others don’t (ex-heading), then A1 Code LIC 99 can be declared instead of the ‘XX’ status (see additional information codes for harmonised declarations) when the licence does not apply to the goods.  2 3 4
  2. These restrictions don’t apply to goods entitled to admission at a preferential rate of duty and, irrespective of any change in the full rate, remain entitled to admission at the same preferential rate, as long as:
    • the appropriate rate code is inserted in Box 47 of the declaration
    • the entry is supported by the necessary evidence of entitlement to the preference
    • no duty is payable under any other provision

  3. A declaration for these goods cannot be presented to customs after 5pm on Budget Day. 
  4. When documentary proof of origin is required for textile goods telexed information and photocopies of that proof and other commercial documents supporting the declaration are not acceptable and goods will not be released in advance of presentation of original documents. However, a certificate of origin prepared by the use of a carbon stencil or photocopying process may be accepted as an original document if it bears an original authenticating stamp with an original or facsimile signature and is otherwise acceptable. Original signatures are required on declarations of origin. 
  5. Where telexes are presented as invoices in their own right, ie not preliminary advices of documents to follow at a later date, they will be accepted as final documents. 
  6. Electronically produced manifest extracts may also be accepted instead of invoices subject to the following requirements. The manifest extract must include the following information:
    • name of sender
    • name of importer
    • marks and numbers of packages
    • number and type of packaging
    • description of goods
    • net weight
    • gross weight
    • country of origin
    • value and currency
    • invoice terms commodity code
    • consignment number
    • flight number or ship
    • date

  7. This concession applies only to goods which:
    • are shown as free of ad valorem Customs Duty in the full rate of duty column in the UK Trade Tariff and on which no other charges (for example levy, Excise Duty) except VAT are payable or deferrable at importation
    • are covered by a valid CT document where appropriate

    This concession does not apply to goods which are duty-free under preference. Additionally, where the goods are chargeable with VAT at a positive rate and the total entered value exceeds £100 (exclusive of VAT), the invoice number(s) and value must be quoted on the telex. 

  8. The claim will not be allowed, however, if the duty has been re-imposed in the meantime. 
  9. The claim will not be allowed, however if the quota has been exhausted before the document is produced. 
  10. This does not apply where an importer retains the original licence for stamping at the frontier. 
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