Universal Customs Clearance begins migration to CDS

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system has been used by customs brokers in the UK since 1994. This system is being replaced by HMRC, though, as the demand for customs declaration processing has increased significantly, and CHIEF is no longer cutting edge technology.

The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is the new system that customs declarants will use to process your clearances. HMRC made CDS live in 2018, and this has been been tested as the featured have rolled out in phases ever since.

Now that testing has been completed and the CDS system has been in use for some time, HMRC are moving to shut down the CHIEF system for customs declarants.

When will CDS replace CHIEF?

By 30th September 2022, all of your import customs clearances will need to be completed on the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS). The CHIEF system will no longer accept import declarations sent for processing.

From 31st March, 2023, the CHIEF system will no longer accept export customs declarations, and will be shut off permanently.

By migrating over to the CDS system now, Universal Customs Clearance are able to complete systems training – on the live system as opposed to the test system.

What makes the Customs Declaration Service different to CHIEF?


The Customs Declaration System requires more information on a declaration in comparison to CHIEF, with more boxes to be completed by your declarant on each clearance. There will also be some difference in the way that information is submitted, such as declaration categories replacing the current CPC codes, but these small differences will represent the same things.

You will not need to do anything different as the documents required will remain the same; however, the additional information required by CDS – approximately 50% more – will likely mean an increase in customs declaration fees in the industry.

This additional information will be useable to you, though, as the CDS system will have an online portal for all traders, whereby you have full access to all of your customs declarations on one dashboard. From this, you will have full use of data tools, reports, and updates to declarations. 

What do you need to do?

Importers and exporters like you need to be aware of the change to CDS as this will affect how your customs paperwork looks; however, your process for customs clearance will remain the same as it is your customs declarant who will be changing the way they input your information. 
Universal Customs Clearance will be updating our customers as we migrate their declarations over to the new Customs Declaration Service system, and aim to be migrated ahead of the deadlines set by HMRC. We will also be guiding them on changes to duty and Vat payments through the CDS system.
If you would like more information on the CDS system and how this could affect you, please contact one of our experts for more information.


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