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Getting ready for Customs Declaration Service

The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) has been designed to modernise the process for completing customs declarations for businesses that import or export goods from the UK. A phased launch of the service started in August 2018 and more than one million declarations have been made since then. The CDS system is currently used for Northern Ireland and Rest of World declarations.

HMRC has now confirmed that all businesses will need to declare goods through the CDS from 31 March 2023. This will result in the closure of the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) service. The CHIEF system is over 25 years old and has struggled to cope with complex reporting requirements that could not easily or cost-effectively be accommodated within the existing service. 

HMRC has confirmed that ahead of the 31 March 2023 complete closure, services on CHIEF will be withdrawn in two stages:

  • 30 September 2022: import declarations close on CHIEF
  • 31 March 2023: export declarations close on CHIEF / National Exports System (NES)

The decision to introduce the CDS was system driven to provide a more secure and stable platform and predated Britain’s vote to leave the EU. Importers and exporters should by now be well aware of the CDS system, and they or their agent should be starting to prepare for the further rollout and eventual replacement of the CHIEF system.

The joint Directors General for Borders and Trade at HMRC, said:

‘CDS is a key part of the government’s plans for a world-leading fully digitised border that will help UK businesses to trade and to prosper. This announcement will provide clarity for traders and the border industry. We are committed to making the switch-over as smooth as possible and are working to ensure traders are fully supported with the new processes.'

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Tue, 10 Aug 2021 00:00:00 +0100

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