The new Customs Declaration Service starts in 2018

HMRC has published a press release – Getting ready for the Customs Declaration Service – about the new service which will start its phased launch in August 2018. This will affect businesses that import or export goods between the UK and non-EU countries. 

The new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) will replace the ageing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, with all declarations taking place on CDS from early 2019. 

How this will affect importers and exporters

If a trader imports or exports goods outside the EU, they or their agent will currently be 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; and
  • complete customs information electronically. 

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

  • they will need to sign into CDS on GOV.UK through a Government Gateway account;
  • 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; and
  • online help will include self-service tools, guides and checklists. 

Some additional information will be required for declarations in order to align with the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention, 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; and
  • ‘levelling’, ie a change between ‘Header’ and ‘Item’ for some data items. 

To align UK customs data with international standards, there will also be changes to: 

  • location of goods identification (based on UNLOCODE);
  • the warehouse type code list;
  • item tax lines, including method of payment codes;
  • unit of quantity codes (ISO);
  • the way customs procedures are quoted; and
  • 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. 

An updated tariff manual will be available in April 2018. 

To keep informed about CDS, send your name and email address to to register for email updates.