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Upcoming significant changes to customs declarations in the UK

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is heralding significant changes later this year to how import declarations are made. As an importer to the United Kingdom, you must be prepared for the changes to avoid delays in customs clearance of imported goods.

The system used to make declarations, known as Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), will be switched off on 30th September 2022 and entirely replaced by the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

This new system will serve as the UK’s one-stop-shop customs platform, which all importers need to use to declare their goods. UK firms risk significant delays in clearing their imports if they do not switch to the UK’s new Customs Declaration Service in time. Registration takes some time, and your internal processes, as well as the documentation you receive from vendors, may need to be reviewed. Furthermore, you should align with your appointed customs broker on how they will submit entries into the CDS system on your behalf from 30th September onwards.


The CHIEF system has served the UK for almost 30 years. According to HMRC, there is a technological imperative for switching to the new CDS.

Founded on world-leading innovation, CDS is built to incorporate the increasing number of free trade agreements the UK continues to make with its partners overseas. The system has been developed over several years in consultation with the border industry. It is a secure, flexible platform currently used for both Northern Ireland declarations and Rest of World movements, and has processed in excess of one million import declarations since August 2018. The new system operates the full UK Trade Tariff, which CHIEF cannot do. However, CDS requires certain data elements for import shipments with stricter requirements imposed, where previous free text fields sufficed under CHIEF.

CDS also brings more robust reporting functionalities through a new dashboard tool that makes managing declarations easy. Customs agents still require a port badge or login for each inventory-linked port that they intend to clear to be able to present entries. Businesses using a duty deferment account must set up a new direct debit once registered via CDS. Otherwise, individual immediate payments will need to be made each time an import declaration is made.

For UK exporters, the CHIEF system will continue to run until 31st March 2023. After this date, CHIEF will transition to CDS.


APL Logistics is a major provider of customs brokerage services in the UK and Europe, offering a global reach and in-depth customs knowledge. Our agents are based in-country to help with your brokerage requirements, from consulting, to Brexit assistance, deferment facilities, as well as direct or indirect representation.

Please speak to our advisers today for more information and to ensure that you are prepared for the upcoming changes.


Author: Matthew Woodhouse, Operations General Manager – UK at APL Logistics


The above message is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute any form of legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. It is not intended to be relied upon by you in making (or refraining from making) any specific decisions.