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For importers and exporters, another big countdown begins

CHIEF will be switched off on 31st March 2023

Our message is: do not delay, make a plan for CDS

As many of us are aware, import declarations will soon be migrated to CDS. The Government have started the countdown to CHIEF’s shutdown, setting 30 September 2022 as the date for CDS to handle all import declarations, and the last date for export declarations in CHIEF will be 30 March 2023.

To avoid delays and issues at the border, your preparation for this change will be as important as those made for Brexit.

Last week’s announcement

“HMRC will be closing its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system on 31 March 2023. From this date, all businesses will need to declare goods through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). . .

CDS has been developed over a number of years in consultation with the border industry and will provide a more secure and stable platform that has the capacity and capability to grow in line with the government’s ambitious trade plans.

The move to one system for all imports and exports will also deliver savings for the taxpayer”.
Full announcement here

Declarations submitted in CDS are very different – here are some of them:

  1. You will need to state Inco terms
  2. Tariff/classification code will be split from 10 digits to 6,4,4.
    Commodity codes.
    Customs Procedure Code (CPC) split from 7 digits to 2,2,3, and this is validated so will need to be known before you start submitting the declaration.
    Customs procedure code

What do you need to do first?

If you haven’t already, register for CDS. This is done using the Government Gateway. Those of you using PIVA will already be registered.

What can you do to prepare?

  1. Familiarise yourselves with CDS, which sees the SAD C88 document sent to its final resting place.
    CDS guidance
  2. Find out what additional information is required to submit declarations in CDS.
    Access CDS
  3. If you use an Agent to submit your declarations you should check what their plans are to get CDS ready. You will need to give them the relevant access to CDS and agree a revised instruction and checking process
  4. If you submit declarations using a third party software provider then make sure that you engage with them so that you can update your systems
  5. You might like to try the Trader Dress Rehearsal Service, with the assistance of your software provider. This lets you test your readiness and submit different declaration scenarios in a simulated Customs Declaration Service.
    Dress rehearsal service
  6. Subscribe to some of the free online courses.
    Trade academy


CHIEF: Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight
CDS: Customs Declaration Service
Inco terms: International Commercial Terms.
PIVA: Postponed Import VAT Accounting
SAD C88: Single Administrative Document C88

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