How to prepare for the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) when it replaces

Blog 3 mins

HMRC will soon be retiring the current Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system (CHIEF) and replacing it with the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) to submit customs declarations. This will impact imports from 30th September 2022 and exports in March 2023. This new platform for making declarations is fundamentally different and all UK importers must be ready. Now is the time to prepare to avoid disruption, penalties and delays. We’re working with our TariffTel customers to advise them of the changes and get ahead with preparations. Our customs classification specialists explain why the changes are taking place, what this means for UK businesses trading globally and share their advice on how to be well prepared.

HRMC customs declaration system TariffTel

How is the new CDS system different from CHIEF?

The new CDS system will modernise the current customs data processing system and is designed to be completed digitally, whereas CHIEF accepts paper forms. This will enhance the overall trading experience, designed to adapt to ever-changing requirements, changes in regulations, and technology enhancements. Moving to a digitised system provides an opportunity to reduce the admin burden for the high volume of documentation and costs, whilst also adopting a target operating model for the digitisation of Export Health Certificate (EHCs), more proportionate, risk-based Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) import controls and the opportunity to reduce delays.

This means that CDS requires more accuracy, additional data requirements and an increased use of codes instead of free text.

What are the timings to moving to this new system?

There are two phases to this transition with Phase 1 bringing CDS into service for all UK imports. From the 30th September 2022, the ability to make import declarations using the previous CHIEF system will be unavailable and your items will be held at the border without the new measures in place.

Six months later, after 31st March 2023, the same process will occur for export declarations, completing the transition to the UK’s single customs platform. As these deadlines near, HMRC are urging UK traders to register on the new online platform to enable a swift transition across systems.


How can you prepare for CDS?

In order to avoid delays and disruption the time to prepare for CDS is now. Make sure you have all your transaction and product information available and up to date.

  • Register for a Government Gateway Account: You will need a Government Gateway user ID and password in order to access CDS, follow the steps here.
  • Ensure you have a valid EORI number: If you do not have an EORI number, you must register one before moving to CDS.
  • Register for the Customs Declaration Service.


The classification of goods is essential in order to identify what duties and controls are applied at the time of making a customs declaration for your products. Read more about HS codes and why they’re vital for cross border e-commerce. Once you have selected what declaration you are preparing for in CDS, the next step is the commodity code. Our TariffTel tool simplifies customs classification, providing you with accurate commodity and HS codes to enable the free flowing of information between all parties, guaranteeing the smooth delivery of your products to their destination.

Take a look at our CDS Checklist for more support.

If you need support or advice on preparing for the Customs Declaration System, whether you’re a large enterprise or growing business, please get in touch with our team of experts [email protected]

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