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A Quick-Fire Guide To New Customs Declaration Services

31st October 2022 | by Aimee Spilsbury

A quick-fire guide to Customs Declaration Services for import-export requirements.

It’s all change in the world of UK import-export policies. In case you haven’t heard, the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) is being replaced by the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).


If you’re interested in a detailed overview of Customs Declaration Services, head to our in-depth CDS resource

For a quick-fire snapshot, stay right here and let’s go through a very short scroll…


What is the Customs Declaration Service?


It’s HMRC’s ‘new’ system for UK import-export declarations. We say new, but the CDS has actually been around since August 2018. CDS currently runs alongside CHIEF to give traders, like you, the opportunity to adjust to the new system.

No one likes change, but HMRC assures us that there are many benefits to using new Customs Declaration Services. One of the benefits is that it’s an entirely digital system, built on modern architecture and hosted in the cloud.

While you might be a bit unfamiliar with the tech at first, once you’re used to it, CDS will make your import-export process more efficient.


Here’s how:



  • CDS is designed to meet new EU customs requirements as outlined in the Union Customs Code.

  • It will ensure that you, as a trader, are fully compliant with all import and export requirements.

  • Once you submit your declarations via CDS, you can access your data completely free of charge in the future. Unlike the current CHIEF system, which charges you to download customs data, with CDS there is no cost.

  • CDS will give you room to grow by better handling any increases in your customs declarations and evolving in line with regulatory requirements.

  • You will be able to access several specialist functions that offer a more practical and efficient approach to UK import-export requirements.


What else should you be aware of with CDS?


Customs Declaration Services from HMRC bring with them some notable changes and enhancements, such as:


  • All changes to the Import and Export Tariff, required by the Union Customs Code, will be accommodated by the CDS.

  • You may need to include new or different data as part of your customs declarations. Some data that was previously collected as part of the import-export process may no longer be necessary.

  • Additional codes, for regulatory compliance, might be needed for some product types.

  • The CDS will group data submission under eight key categories including:


  1. Message information
  2. Shipping details
  3. Reference
  4. Goods identification
  5. People
  6. Transportation information
  7. Value 
  8. Others


Quick Tips to get Organised for Customs Declaration Services


If you need an in-depth tutorial to get set up for CDS, make use of the resource that we link to earlier in this blog. However, if you need a basic idea of what you need to do to be prepared for CDS, see our ‘skim-read checklist’ below:


  • Get an EORI number: You need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If you don’t have one, you will need to register one before switching to CDS.

  • Get access to Customs Declaration Services: To submit customs declarations, you need access to the CDS. To access the CDS you need a Government Gateway user ID and password.

  • Ask Speedy Freight for help: Our dedicated logistics support team can help you get set up with CDS and take care of your import-export logistics long-term. Contact your nearest Speedy Freight branch now for the support you need.

  • Get involved with the Trader Dress Rehearsal platform: If you’re a practical learner, the TDR service is an optional test platform you can use to help you prepare for the switch to CDS. You can practice submitting customs declarations in a simulated environment before using the live system. Doing this has no impact on your financials or your licence.

  • Get familiar with the new Trade Tariff: Before using the new CDS service, make sure you familiarise yourself with the UK Government’s Import and Export Tariff tool - available here.


There you have it, a whistle stop overview of the benefits of the CDS system and the basics of getting started.


If you’re still unsure about all the ins and outs of CDS, give your nearest Speedy Freight franchise a bell, and the team will be happy to help you.

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