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The Customs Declaration Service – HMRC replaces CHIEF

HMRC is replacing CHIEF with a new Customs Declaration Service. Nicola Haynes and Adam Taylor explain why preparing now can help you avoid disruption and delays. 

Most importers are familiar with the Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight (CHIEF) as the HMRC platform importers and exporters use to submit customs declarations. CHIEF has been around for over 30 years and HMRC has eventually announced its retirement: for imports on 30 Sept 2022, and exports in March 2023.

The new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) that's replacing it is fundamentally different to CHIEF. Unless you make your own declarations, you won't need additional software for full access to the CDS, but many businesses, including those that use a customs intermediary, such as a freight forwarder or customs broker, to make customs declarations on their behalf will need to prepare for the change.

What are the main differences between the CDS and CHIEF?

  • Most customs declarations are submitted electronically to CHIEF, it was designed to accept paper forms – CDS is designed to be completed digitally.
  • CDS requires more accuracy, additional data requirements, and increased use of codes instead of free text
  • Different data sets are required depending on type of declaration
  • There will be additional methods to make payments of customs duties, including a new ‘cash account’ which allows you to deposit money and top it up to pay duty
  • CDS enables you to update customs agent permissions online

How can you prepare for the CDS?

To avoid unexpected delays, you should start preparing for the changes now.

Make sure you have all your transaction and product information available as your customs broker will need additional data to clear the goods on your behalf.

Make sure you've government gateway login for your business account and have signed up for CDS access. This will be essential for managing your imports and exports records and finances in your new CDS finance dashboard.

If you have a duty deferment account, you'll need to set up a new direct debit mandate as CDS uses a different bank account to CHIEF (via CDS finance dashboard). You can do this now.

You'll also need to set up new authorities for your customs brokers to use your deferment account; again, via the CDS finance dashboard.

If you need support or further advice on preparing for the Customs Declaration System, get in touch.

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