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New HMRC customs system launched

| Duncan & Toplis | 28 October 2022

After nearly 30 years, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is requiring UK businesses that import or export goods to start using a new system: The Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

When the previous customs system was launched, paper-based forms were still the norm, and there was less importing and exporting activity. The new system is therefore long overdue.

What are the changes to the customs system?

The old system, the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), is being replaced by the new CDS.

The switchover is happening in two phases. First, the CHIEF system closed for import declarations on 30 September 2022 and import declarations will need to be logged on the new CDS system. Exports will then follow for declarations after 31 March 2023.

CDS is a data-driven system for import and export declarations that are designed to be fit for purpose for the future. It has been running alongside the previous CHIEF system since 2018, and according to HMRC, it has already been used to process over one million imports.

The new system also aims to create greater accuracy and consistency between different customs authorities around the world. There are more data points available, and these are more strict for the input data format. There are also changes to the codes used, as the old seven-digit codes are being replaced by a combination of four and three-digit codes.

What does it mean for businesses?

For businesses that hire a freight forwarder, fast parcel operator, or customs agent to complete import and export declarations on behalf of their business, they will simply need to check that the relevant organisation has signed up to CDS.

Businesses that complete their own declarations will need to use different software to input data into CDS. This new software is needed as CDS uses the Union Customs Code (UCC) for data processing, replacing the old paper-based system of Community Customs Code (CCC). If you need a new software provider, HMRC provides a list of known providers.

HMRC also provides a comprehensive guide and checklist for traders who make customs declarations themselves on the GOV.UK website.

If you would like help with the switchover to the new system, get in touch with our friendly team today to discover how we can help your business.


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