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What is the HMRC Customs Declaration Service?

28th October 2022 | by Aimee Spilsbury

What is the HMRC Customs Declaration Service.

The HMRC Customs Declaration Service (CDS) will serve as the UK’s single customs platform. Currently, CDS operates alongside the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF). Both platforms enable importers, exporters, and intermediaries to complete customs declarations.


However, as of 31 March 2023, the CHIEF system will close and you will need to declare goods through the Customs Declaration Service from this date. The closure of CHIEF will be a phased process.


  • Phase 1, which took place on 30 September 2022, saw CHIEF closed to new import declarations - however, if you have not yet switched to the CDS system, the UK Government recently announced a one month extension to register.



  • Phase 2 will see CHIEF and the National Exports System closed to new export declarations.


World-leading technology


The international logistics space is seeing a surge in the use of technology, and it was only a matter of time before the UK Government adapted to import-export processes of the future.


The HMRC Customs Declaration Service has been founded on world-leading innovation, developed after several years in consultation with the border industry.


Since 2018, the CDS has already processed more than one million import declarations. It is used for Northern Ireland and Rest of World declarations and it can handle all types of customs declarations. Ultimately, this makes it easier for your business to trade and grow.


Plus, it can operate the entire UK Trade Tariff, which CHIEF cannot do. CDS can be considered vital to the long-term sustainability of your logistics, and gives you the flexibility to accommodate any future improvements to your import and export processes.



The benefits of CDS to you and your business


CDS is hugely agile and adjustable, giving you greater freedom and flexibility to declare goods all in one place. The ability to perform all customs declarations in one place means reduced operational costs for your business while lessening the administrative burdens associated with importing and exporting.


Plus, unlike CHIEF, CDS makes declaration data completely transparent and it's available free of charge. 

You and your business can easily access real-time import and export data, check tariffs, and financial statements online.


How to prepare for the new HMRC Customs Declaration Service


If you haven’t already, there are four key actions you need to take to prepare your business for the HMRC Customs Declaration Service.


  1. Get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
  2. Get a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number.
  3. Register your Government Gateway account details.
  4. Familiarise yourself with changes to the Import and Export Tariff.


Speedy Freight and the HMRC Customs Declaration Service


In addition to the actions above, you will need to complete a Power of Authority letter to prove that you are registered with CDS and that you grant approval for Speedy Freight to act on your behalf, and utilise your Deferment account (if relevant) which you will have authorised on the CDS financials dashboard - for more information, see our complete CDS preparation resource.


Even though we can process import and export declarations on your behalf, action is still needed from you, most notably registering with CDS. 


The time is now


With an original deadline set for 30 September 2022 for businesses to switch to the CDS, HMRC recently announced that it was extending the deadline until the end of October. However, if you need an extension, you must have a valid reason for needing more time.


You will need to demonstrate that you are committed to migrating to the CDS once the extension deadline has elapsed.


To get the support you need, reach out to your nearest Speedy Freight branch, today.

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