New system will provide a single place for companies to access customs information ©PA Wire/PA Images
New system will provide a single place for companies to access customs information ©PA Wire/PA Images

HMRC launches customs declaration system

16 August 2018

HM Revenue & Customs [HMRC] has launched its new customs system to modernise declarations for importers and exporters who trade outside of the EU.

The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF). It will meet the requirements of the EU’s Union Customs Code (UCC) and provide a single place for companies to access customs information, as well as support the UK’s anticipated import and export growth.

The decision to switch to the system was made before the UK voted to leave the EU. However HMRC said CDS can be scaled to handle any potential increases in declarations that may result from Brexit.

CDS will be introduced in three phases, starting this month, and is expected to be completely phased in by early 2019. In this first release, a select group of importers can make a limited range of supplementary declarations and customs procedures on the system.

A majority of importers will start to use CDS from this November on, but will need to ensure they are using CDS-compatible software beforehand.

After this wave, exporters will be allowed to use CDS.

During the transitional period, CHIEF will continue to operate in parallel to the new software for traders.

Kevin Franklin, HMRC’s customs transformation programme director, said HMRC had been working closely with trade representatives, including freight companies, on CDS and valued the support from these organisations in preparing importers and exporters for the coming switch.

Franklin said the priority now was making sure software developers, agents and their clients were ready for the transition.

“When fully rolled out, CDS will offer several new and existing services all in one place, and due to the requirements of the UCC, some additional information will need to be collected and included in import and export declarations,” he said.

“This means importers, exporters and agents will need to work with their in-house or external software developers to understand the impact these changes will have on their businesses.”

HMRC advised that traders familiarise themselves with the official guide on how CDS will be introduced, which was released earlier this year. The guide includes upcoming changes for those who use the UK Trade Tariff to make customs declarations for imports.

The government also said there will be tariff changes and that more information will be available for exporters on its website later this year.

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