News Updates

Launch of the Customs Declaration Service begins


The Customs Declaration Service will deliver a modern system for importers and exporters who have to complete customs declarations when trading outside the EU.

CDS will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system over three phases between August 2018 and early 2019. The new system will meet the requirements of the Union Customs Code (UCC), support the anticipated future import and export growth of the UK, and provide businesses with access to more of their customs information in one place.

Following implementation of the first release of CDS this week on 14 August, a selected group of importers will start making certain types of supplementary declarations on CDS. The majority of importers will start using CDS from November, once their own software provider or in-house IT team has completed development of CDS-compatible software. Exporters will follow after this. CHIEF will continue to operate in parallel while the transition of traders takes place.

Kevin Franklin, HMRC’s Customs Transformation Programme Director, said:

The first release of the new Customs Declaration Service is a major milestone. Going live on time is a great step to fully introducing the new system and is testament to the hard work of both HMRC staff and our partners.

We have been engaging closely with trade representatives including software developers, Community System Providers, freight forwarders, and traders themselves about CDS and we value the support from these organisations in preparing importers and exporters for the upcoming changes. Our priority now is to make sure software developers, agents and their clients are ready and we will continue to work closely with them throughout the transition.

When fully rolled out, CDS will offer several new and existing services all in one place, and due to requirements of the UCC, some additional information will need to be collected and included in import and export declarations. This means importers, exporters and agents will need to work with their in-house or external software developers to understand the impact these changes will have on their businesses.

Software providers should look at what changes need to be made to their software packages and make decisions about their approach to the roll-out of IT and customer migration in-house. They should also ensure their customers are kept up to date with the latest information.

HMRC’s support for software developers includes:

  • software developer test service to allow customs software developers to test their solution against CDS functionality - you can sign up by emailing SDSTeam@hmrc.gov.uk.

  • HMRC’s developer hub for specific information on how to build your CDS software solution

Traders can familiarise themselves with how HMRC will be implementing CDS. If you currently use the UK Trade Tariff to make customs declarations, you will need to be aware of the upcoming changes for imports.

The changes for exports will be available on GOV.UK later in the year. If your agent or courier completes your declarations on your behalf, you may wish to share this information with them.

Further information

  • Read full guidance on how HMRC will introduce the Customs Declaration Service.

  • The decision to replace CHIEF with CDS was made before the EU referendum, however CDS will be scaled to handle any potential increases in the volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s exit from the EU.

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