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Move to the Customs Declaration Service to continue importing


Published: 14 Jun 2022 Update History

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system will be closed for import declarations after 30 September 2022 and for export declarations after 31 March 2023. As a result, HMRC is urging businesses that import and export to start preparing to use the Customs Declaration Service.

HMRC states that, compared to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system (CHIEF), the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) delivers an enhanced service and user experience and offers a host of specialist functions.

Businesses can declare all goods on one platform simultaneously. This reduces operational costs and lessens the administrative burden of running two separate customs systems. Furthermore, all declaration data is transparent and available free of charge, so businesses can access real-time import and export data, and check tariffs and financial statements.

To use the CDS, businesses must:

  • Register for a Government Gateway account (if not already registered).
  • Obtain an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number (businesses currently importing or exporting should already have this).
  • Obtain a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number (businesses registered for corporation tax or self assessment should already have this).
  • Subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service

Businesses will need specialist software to access the CDS. Businesses using an intermediary to submit their customs declarations should ensure the intermediary is able to submit declarations through the CDS. Businesses submitting their own declarations can find specialist software through HMRC’s website. Please note that neither ICAEW nor HMRC endorse any of the software suppliers listed. Businesses should undertake their own checks to ensure suitability.

As before, payment will need to be paid to HMRC to clear goods for import. There are several payment methods available through the CDS, including:

Before using the CDS for live declarations, businesses are advised to use the Trader Dress Rehearsal service. Although aimed primarily at declarants (the party submitting the customs declaration), traders can also use the service if they have access to the necessary software.

It is worth noting that, as things stand, businesses moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland can continue using the Trader Support Service to complete customs and safety and security declarations. However, this may change in light of possible changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Businesses importing into Northern Ireland from outside of the UK and EU should already be using the CDS. 

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