CHIEF is retiring – are you ready for CDS from 1 October?

17 June 2022

HMRC is phasing out its Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight (CHIEF) system during 2022 and from 1 October 2022 all declarations for import movements will have to be made through the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS). This is not optional - goods will be stuck at borders from 1 October unless the right CDS entries are submitted online by both importers and their freight agents/customs brokers.

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Import declarations cannot be submitted to HMRC using the current CHIEF customs declaration system from 1 October 2022 and the new CDS system must also be used for exports from 1 April 2023.


How to get set up on CDS

CDS is a wholly new online system accessed through the Government Gateway portal so there is no carry over from CHIEF and importers will have to register for CDS themselves – it is not something that your freight forwarder or customs broker can do for you.

Once you have created your account on the CDS portal, then you will need to choose someone in your team to be the account ‘administrator’ for your business. Your administrator will then need to authorise each of the freight forwarders or customs brokers you use on the system so that they can have access to make declarations on behalf of your business – you will need their EORIs (Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification – importer of record number) to set this up. You will also need to authorise them through your government gateway account so that they can use your cash payment or deferment account to pay any import duties due.

In practice, your CDS administrator should also give access to the people on your team who are passing import instructions to your freight forwarders or customs brokers – training several members of your team on this will be important to ensure there are no operational bottlenecks due to holidays or illness.

Using CDS

CDS is designed to capture more information about each movement of goods to give HMRC a better picture of imports (and exports from 1 April 2023). This means that importers and exporters will have to provide more information than is currently needed for declarations made via CHIEF, although we only have access to a test environment, we believe there are over 20 additional data elements to be provided on an import declaration.

Although it may well be your freight forwarder or customs broker that makes the CDS declarations, they won’t be able to make complete and compliant declarations if you don’t provide all the required customs data to them. This means that the import clearance instructions you give them for each shipment (the information pack) will need to be far more detailed than currently provided for the CHIEF system.

It is important to remember that your business is liable for any declaration errors made by your freight forwarder or customs broker (they may become jointly liable if you contract with them on an indirect representative basis because you are not established in the UK). Therefore, if there is any missing data or doubt over the accuracy of the clearance instruction you have given them, you could experience a delay in customs clearance for your goods until the issues are resolved – this could result in delivery delays to your shipments and additional costs – so getting your instructions 100% right will be essential to ensure timely shipments. 

How BDO can help

At BDO we have an experienced team of customs and international trade consultants including former freight forwarders and customs brokers.

We can help your business get ready for the transition to CDS, offering practical instruction on:

  • What you need to do to activate your account and authorise your freight forwarders and customs brokers
  • Assist you in understanding where to find the data required for the CDS system
  • Assist you in creating and implementing a process for collecting and entering this data onto your customs clearance instruction
  • Finalise your new customs clearance instruction template for the CDS data set required for your import and export customs declarations.

BDO also offers UK brokerage services, so if you would like to discuss your brokerage requirements and how we could assist you in transitioning onto CDS then please don’t hesitate to contact us at brokerage service.  

Read 10 common pitfalls with Customs declarations