HMRC tells UK businesses to sign up for new Customs Declaration Service

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are calling on businesses which import and export goods to sign up to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

In general, CDS will only be necessary for businesses which make import and export declarations themselves.  However, businesses which wish to use Postponed VAT Accounting in respect of imports will also need to use CDS to view the statements required for their VAT returns.

Letters have been sent by HMRC that state as of 5 July new importers can no longer register with the old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system (CHIEF) and must now use the “more modern and secure” Customs Declaration Service (CDS) instead.

Although the CHIEF system is closed to new importers, those that have previously registered will be able to continue using the old system until 30 September this year.

Then, from 31 March 2023, the ability to make export declarations using the CHIEF System will also end.

After this point all import and export declarations must use the new CDS system, in what has been described by HMRC as a “first step” in its development of a UK Single Trade Window portal.

The benefits for importers and exporters

These changes form part of the 2025 Border Strategy and are designed to play an important role in the Government’s plans to digitalise remaining import controls on EU goods entering the UK by the end of 2023.

CDS will allow businesses to input all the data required for a goods movement in one go via a single transaction, rather than completing multiple entries to different Government departments.

According to HMRC’s letter, CDS will:

  • allow a business to submit customs documents digitally and safely using the Secure File Upload service
  • provide access to all of a business’s financial information in a single financial dashboard where it can view account statements, make payments and control standing authority
  • give real time notifications and alerts on a business’s customs declarations and movements
  • allow a business to manage its finances by opening a duty deferment account, make payments by card or bank transfer enabling its goods to clear without delay

Intermediary support

If a business uses an intermediary to complete its import and export declarations, it will need to check whether that intermediary is still using CHIEF.

If they confirm that they are then a business will need to ensure that the intermediary moves declarations to the Customs Declaration Service before CHIEF closes.

A business should not assume that an intermediary will automatically make the switch and should do ask now as it might take time to move to the new system.


After 30 September 2022, a business can only use the CDS to make import declarations and so businesses should have the necessary systems and training in place to deal with this.

HMRC have designed a Trader Dress Rehearsal service that allows businesses to test the system and create strategies that work for them.

If you need further advice about the changeover to CDS and how it affects you, please get in touch with our team.

Posted in Press Releases.