CDS is coming - are you ready for the change from CHIEF?

Brexit | 24 July 2018

The CHIEF system is to be replaced with CDS and traders can get help from MIC's range of software solutions to ease the transition.


As many of you in the business of importing and exporting goods will be aware, change is coming. As of August 2018, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to begin phasing in its new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

This will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system and is set to affect anyone making customs declarations for goods imported from or exported outside the EU.

If you think it will apply to you, then now is the time to start making preparations to ensure your business is ready to make the move. In case you're unsure or concerned about the forthcoming changes, here's some background information and advice on what will be happening.

CHIEF to CDS

CHIEF is currently used to process declarations and facilitate the movement of goods internationally between the UK and non-EU countries.

It is one of the world's biggest and most sophisticated systems for managing the process of customs declarations - but it is also a quarter of a century old and is not easily adapted to the raft of new requirements we continue to see in the 21st century.

In contrast, CDS will be able to provide a modern, digital declaration service that is able to grow with future trade plans and ambitions. In particular, it will be scalable in order to handle the UK's exit from the EU and any alterations to declarations that may arise from this. 

New legislative requirements from the Union Customs Code (UCC) will also be able to be accommodated under CDS.

Changes under CDS

There will be differences in the way CDS operates compared to CHIEF. For example, CDS will be accessed through Gov.uk via a Government Gateway account, meaning traders will need to liaise with the supplier of their customs declaration software package if they use one.

In addition, CDS will allow traders to view previous import and export data, check their tariffs and statements and apply for new authorisations.

Of course, it will also process declarations, calculate duties and taxes and accept customs information electronically, just as CHIEF did.

Further alterations in line with world regulations

CDC will require traders to provide additional information for declarations in order to remain in line with the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention (part of the UCC).

There will also be changes to location of goods identification, unit of quantity codes, the number of items on a declaration (going up to 999 from 99) and method of payment codes, among other factors, all to bring the UK in line with international standards.

Who will be affected by the end of CHIEF?

Anyone who currently makes customs declarations for goods going to or coming from the EU, whether that's directly or through a software provider, is set to be affected by the move from CHIEF to CDS.

As of August 2018, some exporters will be required to start making declarations on CDS and these businesses will have been contacted by HMRC.

In November 2018, all importers will be able to start using CDS as long as they have a compatible software package. Exporters will follow some time after this. 

The aim is for all declarations to be taking place on CDS by early 2019, although CHIEF will continue to run alongside it for a transition period to facilitate the move.

Help is available from experts at MIC

It's understandable that this might sound daunting, despite information being able via HMRC's business help and education email service.

Any change is potentially fraught with problems - and no business wants to make potentially costly errors when it comes to customs, tariffs and regulations.

Fortunately, help is at hand. Here at MIC, we are fully prepared for the move to CDC and will be ready on time in order to help our clients continue trading with no disruption.

Our Customs & Trade Compliance Software Solutions can provide a varied and proven suite of modules to help traders, including Central Classification System (MIC CCS), Origin Calculation System (MIC OCS) and Export Control Management (MIC ECM), all of which can work alone or in partnership with one another.

If you're at all concerned by CDC or simply want to see what we could do for you, please do not hesitate to drop us an email at sales@mic-cust.com.