The New Customs Declaration Service – What you Need to Know

The New Customs Declaration Service – What you Need to Know


5 minute read | By Denholm Good Logistics

Last updated: October 26, 2021 | Published: August 7, 2018


You may or may not be aware that in August 2018 HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) will begin a phased launch of a new Customs Declaration Service (CDS). CDS will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, with all declarations taking place on CDS from early 2019.

Why are things changing?

While CHIEF is one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated electronic services for managing customs declaration processes, it is almost 25 years old and therefore isn’t easy to adapt to new requirements. CDS will also be scalable, which means it will be capable of handling increases in the volume of declarations, something that could occur as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The CHIEF system will run alongside the new system for a time during the transitional period to allow people time to get used to the new system.

How the new system affects importers and exporters

If a trader imports or exports goods outside the EU, they or their freight forwarder will be currently using CHIEF to:

  • process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports
  • calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes
  • complete customs information electronically

They will still be able to do these things on CDS, but there will be differences:

  • CDS will be accessed on using a Government Gateway account – if traders use a customs declaration software package, they will need to follow the instructions and documentation from their supplier
  • CDS will offer several new and existing services in one place – for example; traders will be able to view previous import and export data on pre-defined reports, check the tariff, apply for new authorisations and simplifications, and check their duty deferment statement
  • Online help will include self-service tools, guides and checklists

Some additional information will be required for declarations to align with the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention, which is currently being implemented in the UK through the Union Customs Code (UCC):

  • An audit trail of previous document IDs
  • Additional party types, such as the buyer and seller
  • Possible additional commercial references or tracking numbers
  • Levelling – change between ‘Header’ and ‘Item’ for some data items

There will also be changes to the following to align UK customs data with international standards:

  • Location of goods identification (based on UNLOCODE)
  • The warehouse-type code list
  • Item tax lines, including the method of payment codes
  • Unit of quantity codes (ISO)
  • The way customs procedures are quoted
  • The number of items on a declaration – CDS will allow a maximum of 999 items on a customs declaration instead of the current 99 items on CHIEF

Alerting importers and exporters about using CDS

HMRC is currently building and testing CDS with industry, software providers and Community System Providers (CSPs). CSPs operate computerized inventory systems that control the physical movement of import and export freight at UK ports and airports.

CDS will be phased in between August and early 2019, with CHIEF continuing to run during this time to aid the transition. Importers, exporters or their agents and freight forwarders will be informed by their software provider when they need to provide the additional information to start making declarations on CDS.

To keep informed about CDS, please register for the HMRC Business Help and Education email service, where CDS updates will be under the education topic ‘trading with other countries’.

The updates will provide regular information on CDS and any preparations you may need to make ahead of CDS going live.

There will also be regular updates about CDS on and through trade associations.

If you have any questions, contact our friendly team for further information.

Source: Getting ready for the Customs Declaration Service – GOV.UK.

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