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UK customs transition from Chief to CDS system – what you need to know!

Published: September 16, 2022
Author: Siobhan King-Hughes

HMRC is in the process of changing the systems that it uses for managing customs declarations – phasing out its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system by 31st March 2023, with Customs Declaration Service (CDS) being the replacement.

The CHIEF closure is planned in two stages.

  • 30th September 2022 – Import declarations to close on CHIEF – being replaced by the CDS
  • 31st March 2023 – Export declarations to close on CHIEF and the National Exports System (NES) -being replaced by the CDS

For most companies using customs brokers to clear shipments into the UK, your broker will already have taken steps to allow them to submit declarations for you on the Customs Declaration Service. 

Check with your broker and confirm that they are already set up to act on your behalf.  

If they are not already set up, then there are 4 steps to the process.

  • Step 1: Apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number

You need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB. Most businesses moving goods in and out of the UK already have one.

  • Step 2: Subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service

You’ll then need to subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service. This can take up to 5 working days.

  • Step 3: Choose which payment method to use

The main payment methods you can choose from are:

  • Duty deferment account – if this is chosen – make sure your customs agent has access to your deferment account
  • Postponed VAT accounting – if you are making declarations for yourself and your business is registered for VAT in the UK, you may be able to account for import VAT on your VAT return
  • You can also choose to pay via:
    • cash account
    • immediate payment
    • individual guarantee or
    • general guarantee account
  • Step 4: Instruct your customs broker or agent
  • Tell your agent or broker that you have subscribed to the Customs Declaration Service.

Many companies receive requests from multiple brokers for authorisation to clear goods on their behalf.   Although the representation form is simple, it does give the broker authorisation to clear goods using the company’s EORI number and to use the company’s deferred account.     

It is advised that these forms are only signed by an authorised representative of the company and consideration is given to restricting the number of companies that can act on your company’s behalf.

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