From HMRC - Information regarding CDS

Businesses that import or export goods outside the EU will need to prepare for the new service for declaring these.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin a phased launch of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in August 2018. CDS will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, with all declarations taking place on CDS from early 2019.

CHIEF currently processes declarations to facilitate the international movement of goods between the UK and non-EU countries. CHIEF will continue to run for a time to aid the transition to CDS.

Why CDS is replacing CHIEF

CHIEF is one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated electronic services for managing customs declaration processes, but it’s nearly 25 years old and can’t be easily adapted to new requirements.

The decision to replace CHIEF with CDS was made before the EU referendum, however, CDS will be scaled to handle any potential increases in the volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s exit from the EU.

How this will affect importers and exporters

If a trader imports or exports goods outside the EU, they or their agent will be currently using CHIEF to:

  • process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports
  • calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes
  • complete customs information electronically

They will still be able to do these things on CDS, but there will be differences:

  • they will need to sign into CDS on GOV.UK through a Government Gateway account
  • CDS will offer several new and existing services in one place - for example, traders will be able to view previous import and export data on pre-defined reports, check the tariff, apply for new authorisations and simplifications, and check their duty deferment statement
  • online help will include self-service tools, guides and checklists

Some additional information will be required for declarations in order to align with the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention, currently being implemented in the UK through the Union Customs Code (UCC):

  • an audit trail of previous document IDs
  • additional party types, such as the buyer and seller
  • possible additional commercial references or tracking numbers
  • levelling – change between ‘Header’ and ‘Item’ for some data items

To align UK customs data with international standards, there will also be changes to:

  • location of goods identification (based on UNLOCODE)
  • the warehouse type code list
  • item tax lines, including method of payment codes
  • unit of quantity codes (ISO)
  • the way customs procedures are quoted
  • the number of items on a declaration – CDS will allow a maximum of 999 items on a customs declaration instead of the current 99 items on CHIEF

Alerting importers and exporters about using CDS

HMRC is currently building and testing CDS with industry, software providers and Community System Providers (CSPs). CSPs operate computerised inventory systems that control the physical movement of import and export freight at UK ports and airports.

CDS will be phased in between August and early 2019, with CHIEF continuing to run during this time to aid the transition. Importers, exporters or their agents will be informed by their software provider when they need to provide the additional information in order to start making declarations on CDS.

Note from Vixsoft : We are currently developing our solution for CDS, which will be new entry buildup screens in our software. It is in an ongong process, initial testing has been completed successfully, but there is still a lot more to do. We have no release date as of yet, we are of course, aiming for the CDS live date of the 1st November, but this all depends on readiness of the ISP's and when we are satisifed with our solution. We will be updating our clients with more information later in the year. 

To keep informed about CDS, please send your name and email address to to register for email updates.

The updates will provide regular information on CDS and any preparations you may need to make ahead of CDS going live.

There will also be regular updates about CDS on GOV.UK and through trade associations.

CDS Trade Tariff Volume 3 Imports

Customs Declaration Service (CDS) - Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom

This is the first widely published version of the CDS Tariff volume 3 for imports.

This information is available online here

It is also available to download.

Warning: The document is over 1300 pages long. Currently, the table of contents does not contain any links to the related section of the document and there are no 'bookmarks' to aid navigation. This has been reported to HMRC.

Click the link below to view and download the document.

CDS Trade Tariff Volume 3 Imports


This document is intended to provide guidance to those companies currently using CHIEF who are planning to migrate to the Customs Declaration Service.
HMRC have sent out several communications to Trade explaining that the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) became operational in August.

Currently, CDS has very limited functionality and can only be used by a small number of traders who undertake non-inventory declarations out of 'Customs Warehouse'. Further import functionality is expected to be made available in CDS 'Release 2'.

Export functionality is not expected to be available before March 2019. Community Service Providers are currently developing and testing their systems for implementation during 2019.

The CSPs are required to upgrade their systems in order to connect to CDS.

It should be noted that it is not only new software that is required in order for a trader to migrate to CDS. There is a need for Traders to provide additional data in their declarations.

This is required in order to meet UCC standards (see the link to Guidance below). It is also necessary to understand the changes introduced and published in the new UK Tariff.

Any staff involved in undertaking Customs Declarations to CDS will be required to understand the legislative and Tariff changes. This will necessitate training for staff involved in both import and export declarations.

In order to assist Trade in their move to CDS, it has been designed to work concurrently with CHIEF during a period of Dual Running, thus giving the opportunity for companies to migrate to CDS at a time which is most appropriate to their operational needs.

The Trader together with their Software house needs to ensure that not only have their staff been adequately trained but that all their systems are ready.

Whilst it is important that Trade moves to CDS as early as possible, the first objective to both the trader and their Software Provider is that the CDS system has released the functionality required for their business. Secondly, the Trader must be confident that all testing has been completed to their satisfaction with both their Software Supplier and CSPs.

BIFA and AFSS together with the major Trade Associations, are working in partnership with HMRC to ensure that the move to CDS will result in minimal disruption to the Trader and HMRC. Continuity of Service and Contingency planning are major elements to consider in planning the migration to CDS.


Guidance note for CDS import data requirements

CDS Data requirement form