HMRC tells firms to start migrating to CDS with only one year left to before CHIEF fully closes

Thu 24 Mar 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


HMRC has written to businesses warning them to start migrating to the new IT system for submitting customs declarations.

The letter includes information about how the Customs Declarations Service (CDS) will be replacing the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

CHIEF has been the UK government’s system for customs entries for nearly 30 years.


Last year the government confirmed that CHIEF and the National Exports System (NES) will stop receiving export declarations on 31 March 2023 – just over a year away.

In just six months, on 30 September 2022, it will no longer be usable for import declarations.

CDS, its replacement, has been in development since before the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 and has been operational in concurrence with CHIEF since 2018.

It is also already being used for the submission of declarations for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as required under the NI Protocol.


According to IT Pro, CHIEF has received criticism as it is only able to process 60m customs declarations a year – far fewer than the additional 270m declarations HMRC anticipated for UK imports from the EU following Brexit.

“CDS, on the other hand, will be able to handle an estimated 255 million declarations per year”, it reports.

Start migration now

Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, director generals for borders and trade at HMRC, are “asking businesses to start the migration process now”.

“We know the introduction of new rules can be challenging and appreciate all the efforts industry has already made to keep goods flowing,” they said. “CDS provides us with the capacity and capability to grow in line with the government’s ambitious trade plans and to have the world’s most efficient customs system by 2025.”


Green and Dean are saying that support will be “available online, through our guidance on, our webinars and over the phone”.

Aimee Maltman, director of the IOE&IT Academy, also advised traders to undergo training to ensure they’re ready.

“If you submit declarations to HMRC yourself, you need to ensure your customs declaration software interfaces with CDS,” she said. “If you're unsure what this entails, speak to your community software provider. If you use a broker to complete your customs declarations, ensure you communicate with your broker to understand what additional information they may need from you to complete your declarations.”

“Our CDS training course will help you to understand the CDS data requirements and how to use it effectively,” she added.