From August 2018, HMRC will start phasing in the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) to replace the current Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

HMRC state that the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) will provide a modern, digital declaration service that can grow in line with the government’s trade ambitions. It will also accommodate new legislative requirements under the Union Customs Code (UCC).

Who is affected?
Businesses and/or their agents who make customs declarations for goods imported from and exported outside the EU. This could be directly on CHIEF or through a software provider.

How will CDS be introduced?

  • from August 2018, a group of importers will start making declarations on CDS; HMRC is currently contacting these businesses to explain what they need to do; there is no action for you to take unless you have been contacted by HMRC
  • from November 2018, all importers will be able to start using CDS once their software provider or in-house software team has developed a CDS compatible software package; if your software provider hasn’t informed you about how they’re preparing for CDS, please check they are in contact with HMRC; they can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • exporters will follow after this and we will provide further information to let you know what you need to do and when; if you import and export, you may need to use CHIEF and CDS in parallel for a short period of time.

When you start making declarations on CDS, you will need to provide some additional information to comply with the UCC. This information will be in the imports tariff, which will be available on GOV.UK in August 2018 and in the exports tariff which will be available later in the year. Your software provider will also be notifying you of any changes to the way you make declarations.

CHIEF will continue to run for a period of time while businesses transition to CDS to ensure trade continues to flow as usual.