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Streamlining UK Trade: Introducing the Single Trade Window

HMRC is preparing for the first release of the UK Single Trade Window. The authority has provided an update. We summarise.

In 2024, the UK government plans to launch a new service called the Single Trade Window aimed at streamlining the import, export, and transit process for businesses. This new service will act as a virtual gateway between businesses and the UK border processes and systems.

What is the principle idea of the UK Single Trade Window for Customs?

It will provide a centralized platform where users can submit all the necessary information in one place to fulfil their obligations. This means that businesses will no longer have to submit the same information multiple times, reducing the amount of time and effort required to complete the process. With the Single Trade Window, businesses will have a more seamless experience when it comes to fulfilling their trade obligations with the UK.

Benefits of the UK Single Trade Window

Businesses will only need to submit information to the UK government once, using a single secure gateway provided by the UK Single Trade Window, to fulfill their border obligations.

The Single Trade Window is designed to simplify the process of data submissions by collecting data only once, sharing it as necessary, and reusing it when appropriate. This is done to streamline the process and make it easier for users.

With the Single Trade Window, the government will eliminate the need for duplicate data submissions, which will save time and resources. As the Single Trade Window advances, users will be able to see the unification of border-related data sets, with other data sets being added later.

Along with providing user-friendly features, like the ability to apply for and maintain trade permissions, the Single Trade Window will combine various border services.

By reducing undue processes and data requirements, the Single Trade Window will reduce administrative costs and improve user experiences at the border. It will also help UK businesses take advantage of new business opportunities and strengthen the UK's position as a significant trading partner abroad.

How will the UK Single Trade WIndow be released?

The Single Trade Window will be launched through several phases, with each phase building on the enhancements made in previous iterations, resulting in increased functionality and a better user experience. Ultimately, users will only be able to transmit border data to border authorities via the Single Trade Window. The Single Trade Window could be fully operational in 2027:

The scope and functionality of each Single Trade Window strategic release is subject to ongoing review.

Building STW foundations

The initial focus will be on building the foundations of the Single Trade Window that will enable future strategic releases and scaling of services via our iterative approach.

In addition to introducing this foundational technical capability, whilst available to all, the functionality available in the first public release may particularly benefit small, infrequent and new traders, intermediaries and carriers who complete customs import and Safety & Security (S&S) declarations.

The 2024 - first strategic release of the UK Single Trade Window

HMRC has announced that the first strategic release, or Range 1, will be available for testing in late 2023 or early 2024. The aim of this release is to create the foundation for the Single Trade Window.

The first release includes several important features, such as registration and authentication, complete border import declaration (submission and cancellation), a dashboard with critical notifications, and clear error messaging. These features are intended for new and infrequent traders, intermediaries, and carriers who need to complete the necessary disclosures.

Testing for the initial parts of the first strategic release is scheduled to begin by the end of 2023 or early January 2024. After this, a limited number of users will have access to the release in a controlled live environment. HMRC will take user feedback into account before releasing it to the general public in 2024.

Once released, all traders, intermediaries, and carriers will be able to use the Single Trade Window. HMRC retains the right to review all dates and features regularly and will communicate any changes to the industry.

To ensure compatibility, the release will not be compatible with third-party apps currently available in the market. In the future, HMRC will rely on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to improve compatibility with third-party apps.

HMRC will work closely with software developers and the technology industry to provide APIs that enable third-party apps to interface with the system as it evolves.

What Top 10 functionality will the Single Trade Window provide?

It is envisaged that the first strategic release will aim to offer functionality to enable:

  1. users to make Entry Summary Declarations (ENS) for Safety and Security (S&S) and customs import declarations through User Interfaces (UI) to enable the collection and reuse of presubmitted data on behalf of traders to reduce their admin burdens

  2. multiple users from the same organisation to input information for one trade submission meaning the right person will provide their information once, which will in subsequent releases then be able to be reused in declarations related to the same movement (like reusing information from a pre-lodged import declaration in a Safety and Security declaration)

  3. the cloning / editing of previous submissions to expedite drafting

  4. users to check the status of their goods as they move across the border

  5. use of the guidance service

  6. access to the trade dashboard for a summary of drafted declarations, status of submitted declarations, any actions and optional notifications related to their, or their supply chains’ activity.

  7. users to take advantage of Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) integration

  8. collaboration to share information to facilitate a single goods movement

  9. RoW Safety and Security (S&S) declarations to be made via Application Programming Interfaces (API) (once their software is updated to reflect the new Single Trade Window)

  10. reusing trader identification data and declaration data where already held by the Government or within the user’s Single Trade Window account.

How can businesses use the UK Single Trader Window?

Traders will have access to a variety of helpful resources, including step-by-step guides, videos, and other materials tailored to their experience level. These resources will assist them in submitting their goods and checking the status of their border crossings.

Embedded guidance will help direct traders to intermediaries where appropriate, enabling them to manage their border obligations more efficiently.

The Single Trade Window will initially allow traders to use it to complete import and Safety and Security declarations. However, customers can still use existing processes and systems to meet their customs obligations while the Single Trade Window is being developed.

Once the foundational capabilities are in place, the Single Trade Window will offer more features such as exports, excise, transit movements, and trusted trader visibility.

Customs Manager Ltd will assist all businesses in the UK and other countries in the use of the UK Single Trade Window.

Submit Data Once and In One Place: Additional Functionality

A key Single Trade Window principle is to allow users to submit data once and in one place. The Single Trade Window will receive and redistribute this data to where it is required, meaning multiple users will be able to input information for a trade submission, which will then be reused in subsequent declarations related to the same movement.

The additional functionality developed will aim to include the:

  • reduced data set for Safety and Security (S&S) import declarations and Exit Summary Declarations (EXS) for both non-EU and EU goods;

  • ability for traders to submit export customs declarations, import and export excise declarations, and import and export transit declarations;

  • ability to submit transit declarations;

  • apply and verify valid licences;apply for Permits and Authorisations and for Government to respond to applications and manage Authorisations throughout their lifecycle.

Completing the Single Trade Window Vision

Further releases will incorporate feedback from earlier iterations of the Single Trade Window and will aim to introduce new functionality covering Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, enabling international interoperability, data analytics and use of supply chain data. These features will bring the Single Trade Window closer to the single gateway experience for border users, and further expand the use of unified data, provided once, to address multiple submissions

Specific Functionality for the UK Single Trade Window for specific Exports and imports

Specific functionality the Single Trade Window will aim to include:

  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) exports:

  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) imports of live animals which can be completed using a User Interface and/or via Application Programming Interface (API);

  • The ability to track consignment movements depending on supply chain data availability;

  • Remaining non-Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) declarations such as CITES, Organics, marketing standards and unregulated fishing;

  • Data provisions from commercial supply chain systems.

Further strategic releases will be informed by co-design, user research and progress of earlier releases, whilst the delivery timeline will be kept under review.

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