Critical period for CHIEF-to-CDS migration: your questions answered and where to get support

Wed 10 Aug 2022
Posted by: IOE&IT STAFF
IOE News

UK traders must prepare for a major change in the way they make customs declarations.

Any CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) system user who makes import declarations MUST move to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) before 30 September 2022. On this day, CHIEF closes for import declarations.

Those who make export declarations must make them via CDS from 31 March 2023 at the latest.

However, HMRC is encouraging all businesses to take action sooner rather than later as the migration process may take some time.

Please note that CHIEF is now closed for new importer registrations and its training service has also closed.

Your questions answered

The IOE&IT’s International Trade Technical Helpline fields many questions from Business members each day – and it’s clear that CDS migration is a current preoccupation.

See below for answers to the most frequently asked questions. For expert guidance and support, you can explore the full IOE&IT set of CDS solutions here.

Q: What is the CDS?

The CDS stands for the Customs Declarations Service. It is the replacement system for import and export declarations, with traders moving away from CHIEF system by 30 September 2022 for import declarations and 31 March 2023 for export declarations.

Q: Do I need to take action?

The migration from CHIEF to CDS will not happen automatically – so you must take action.

We would recommend acting as soon as possible because the process may take some time.

This advice applies whether you make your own declarations or if someone submits import and export declarations on your behalf. You may not be able to continue trading if you do not move to the CDS in time.

Q: What are the main changes?

In some ways, CDS will require more information from you as a trader compared to the older system.

What were previously ‘boxes’ in CHIEF are now split into ‘Declaration Categories’ and ‘Data Elements’, many of which will require specific information that you may not be familiar with.

Whether you are handling clearances in-house, or outsourcing to an agent, it is strongly recommended that you establish clear, written instructions for the clearance process of your goods in light of these changes to avoid delays and mis-declarations.

The IOE&IT can help you learn to navigate the new CDS Tariff and make this as accessible as possible for you and your business.

Q: What do I need to do?

Firstly, you will need to register your business to access CDS on the website.

You will need an EORI number and Government Gateway login linked to your company. 

From there, follow the instructions on screen.

For further guidance on the use of CDS, you may wish to refer to our Trade Surgeries, dedicated Training Courses, or consult with our team by joining IOE&IT as a member.

Q: What if someone submits customs declarations on my behalf?

You might use a customs agent or fast parcel operator to make declarations on your behalf (and if you don’t, you may want to start – you’ll find a list of customs agents and fast parcel operators on GOV.UK. This list is regularly updated to show which agents are ready to use the Customs Declaration Service).  

You must contact your customs agent(s) or fast parcels operator(s) to ensure they are up to speed with the requirements of CDS for your business. 

You will also need to authorise them in CDS to continue making declarations for you. Failure to do so will mean they cannot clear your goods upon arrival. Refer to your agent/FPO to confirm the relevant details.

If you wish for the agent to use your DDA, this will need to be authorised in CDS as well.

Q: How can I ensure I get it right?

It is indeed important to get your import and export declarations correct and the IOE&IT can help you do that, with a range of training and consultancy support.

You can also test the new system by using HMRC’s Trader Dress Rehearsal Service, which lets you submit different declaration scenarios in a simulation of the CDS. You can submit real data and create realistic business scenarios involving all your supply chain partners.

Q: Where can I get close support on the CDS migration process?

IOE&IT is right now supporting members through the CDS migration process through a dedicated suite of services:

  • International Trade Technical helpline – we have a dedicated group of CDS specialists available to answer your questions
  • Trade surgery – a two-hour phone session with one of our international trade experts that will address your specific needs, requirements and questions around CDS for your company
  • Training courses – one course addresses all the essentials, while another provides an advanced level of information, so you can choose the best for you and your business
  • Consultancy – in-depth advice and guidance completely tailored to you