HMRC signs £4m deal to support online trade tariff calculator

Department awards two-year contract

Credit: Alexas Fotos/Pixabay

HM Revenue and Customs has signed a £4m-plus deal for the provision of support and upgrades to its online tool through which traders can calculate payable tariffs.

The two-year contract will see digital services and PR firm Engine provide support for the UK Integrated Tariff Tool.

The online service, which helps an estimated one million unique users each year, is described by HMRC as “a digital platform, hosted by GDS on webpages… [that] helps traders determine duties, licences, and restrictions for the products they are importing and exporting”. 

The £4.1m deal came into effect on 29 January; Engine has been contracted to “provide ongoing maintenance and support of [the] existing tool, and also manage and implement future improvements”.

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The online tariff calculator is in the process of integrating with the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) – the UK’s post-Brexit customs IT system that began operating in 2018 and is due to fully replace the 30-year-old CHIEF platform within the next year.

The contract reveals that a key expectation is that Engine will work with HMRC “to ensure availability of [the online tool] following changes to data feed, resulting from the implementation of the new CDS”.

The firm will also be asked to “carry out user research, propose recommended changes and execute the changes approved by” the department, as well as providing “analysis of customer feedback, assisting HMRC to identify trends, flaws, and enhancements – including feedback on CDS and the CDS Tariff product”.

During the next two years, work will also take place to “import the Tariff Application Platform file… to the Online Trade Tariff database”; this will require the teams supporting the tariff tool to “liaise with CDS and DIT (Department for International Trade) colleagues if error [or] inconsistencies are identified and provide support to rectify where necessary”. 

HMRC also wishes to improve the search function of the trade tariff tool and the expects access to analytics relating to the service’s performance.

Under the terms of the contract, Engine will be asked to “maintain an improvements log, and proactively review with [HMRC] the following: customer printing; search synonyms improvements; A-Z duplications and corrections; EU description typos; and chapter notes improvements, such as hyperlinks instead of references to other goods”.

To win the deal, the New York-headquartered firm was required to demonstrate understanding of tariffs across all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland, as well as customs systems.


Sam Trendall

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