Customs Declaration Service - the UK’s single customs platform

International trade in goods is worth over £800 billion to the UK economy each year.

Currently, we identify goods for checks at the border using two platforms - the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system and the Customs Declaration Service.

Both platforms allow importers, exporters and intermediaries to complete customs declarations, but from 31 March 2023, we will formally close the CHIEF system. The Customs Declaration Service will serve as the UK’s single customs platform - all businesses will need to declare goods through the Customs Declaration Service from this date.

Ahead of the closure, HMRC will withdraw CHIEF services in two stages:

  • 30 September 2022: new import declarations close on CHIEF
  • 31 March 2023: new export declarations close on CHIEF / National Exports System

Why CHIEF is closing

We want our border IT systems to be fit for the future, creating an environment where businesses can thrive and take advantage of free trade agreements. CHIEF has served the UK well, but it is nearly 30 years old and cannot match the technology that the Customs Declaration Service offers.

Founded on world-leading innovation, the Customs Declaration Service has been developed over several years in consultation with the border industry. It is a secure, flexible platform that is already performing well. It is currently used for both Northern Ireland declarations and Rest of World movements and has processed more than one million import declarations since August 2018.

It is fully compliant with Northern Ireland Protocol obligations and can handle all declaration types – ultimately, making it easier for businesses to trade and grow. It operates the full UK Trade Tariff, which CHIEF cannot do. These advantages make the Customs Declaration Service critical to the long-term flow of trade, with the flexibility to accommodate future improvements to imports and exports.

Ultimately, moving to one system is more efficient than running two platforms, as we are currently doing. Operating one, single system will clarify processes for traders, free-up money for vital public services, and save money for the taxpayer.

With further functionality enhancements scheduled and live customer support services available, now is the time to start your Customs Declaration Service preparations for all goods movements.

Key changes

The Customs Declaration Service offers several new services, alongside existing services, all in one place. If you currently use CHIEF for your declarations, you’ll find that the Customs Declaration Service captures some information differently and the way you input data is different. Primarily, this affects how you use the Trade Tariff and make finance payments.

Tariff changes and impacts

The Trade Tariff helps you find out which forms, codes and procedures to use when importing or exporting goods.

Your Customs Declaration Service submissions will include information from eight data element groups. You may need to complete additional information required by certain data elements and understand that the data can be different to that required by CHIEF.

The eight data element groups

  • Message information
  • References
  • Parties
  • Value
  • Shipping details
  • Goods identification
  • Transport information
  • Other

Trade Tariff information

The Trade Tariff for customs declarations using the Customs Declaration Service is the UK Trade Tariff: Volume 3 for the Customs Declaration Service (now known as the ‘Declaration, Completion, Instructions and Rules’ document).

You can also use the UK Trade Tariff tool to search for import and export commodity codes as well as the tax, duty and licenses that apply to your goods.


Guidance note for CDS import data requirements

CDS Data requirement form

HMRC Sign-up
Declarant checklist – moving to the Customs Declaration Service

Most business will already have a Government Gateway account to access their personal or business tax account. You should use this account to access the Customs Declaration Service.
You can register for a Government Gateway account if you don’t have one already.

Most business will already have a Government Gateway account to access their personal or business tax account. You should use this account to access the Customs Declaration Service.
You can apply for an EORI number if you don’t have one already. It’s free and it only takes 10 minutes to apply. You should receive your EORI number within a week, but it can take longer during busy periods.

You’ll then need to register for the Customs Declaration Service. This can take up to 5 working days. You’ll need your Government Gateway user ID and password for yourself or your business. You will also need: your GB EORI number your 10-digit Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number – you can find this on any HMRC payment reminders, or in your personal tax account the address for your business that we hold on our customs records – please tell us if your address has changed your National Insurance number (if you’re an individual or sole trader) the date you started your business

This will link your software to your Government Gateway account. Your software provider will tell you how to do this. If you’re acting on behalf of multiple clients, you may need to authorise the software for each client. Your software developer will be able to help you with this. You may need to regularly refresh this authorisation with your provider.

The Customs Declaration Service is built on the Union Customs Code, which is fundamentally different from the Community Customs Code which CHIEF is based on. You can read about the key differences between CHIEF and the Customs Declaration Service.
Please read the Customs Declaration Service guidance to understand how this impacts on you and the declarations you intend to make.

You can choose the payment method which is best for your declaration. You can view your balances and payments in the Customs Declaration Service Financial Dashboard, as well as grant and amend standing authorities for your payment accounts.
The main payment methods you can choose from are:

  • Duty deferment account – the Customs Declaration Service uses a separate HMRC bank account to CHIEF, so you’ll need to set up a new direct debit

  • postponed VAT accounting – if you’re making declarations for yourself and your business is registered for VAT in the UK, find out when you can, or need to, account for import VAT on your VAT return

You can also choose:

  • cash account – these replace the Flexible Accounting System (FAS), and you’ll be set up with one once you’ve registered for the Customs Declaration Service

  • immediate payment by Bacs, CHAPS, online or by telephone banking – you can pay by debit, corporate credit card or cheque

  • individual guarantee – you can use these to cover customs duties for one-off or high value imports

  • general guarantee account – this allows you to provide multiple guarantees from the same account, and continue importing goods into the UK and pay a disputed amount later once agreed

The Trader Dress Rehearsal service lets you practice submitting declarations and identify any errors. This may help you to feel more confident when you start to use the Customs Declaration Service. If you’d like to use the service, you should ask your software provider for access.
You can continue using the Trader Dress Rehearsal service after you start making declarations in live.

When you’re ready to make a declaration in the Customs Declaration Service, contact your software provider. They’ll make the request for access to the live service for you. You should use the secure file upload service when you submit your supporting documents like licenses or certificates of origin.

CSP Section

Registering with the CSP (Community Service Provider) for CDS

To start testing and training your staff for using our CDS software you need to register for CDS TDR with each CSP whom you have a badge with.
Once received from the CSP, please forward the details on to us at
CNS Compass If you have badges with CNS, you must complete the for CNS to process. One complete, request TDR login credentials. CNS will then provide you with the following information:

A Topic ID
Password - Note. This is NOT the password you use to log in to the CNS web portal.
Once received, please forward the details on to us
MCP Destin8 If you have badges with MCP, you should send to register.

Fill in your:
  • Company name
  • EORI number
  • list of badges code
MCP will then provide you with the following information:
Output device/Topic ID
Once received, please forward the details on to us.

If you have badges with Pentant, you should send to register.
Fill in your Company name, EORI number, DUNS number and list of badges code and send the email. Pentant will then provide you with the following information: GLN Username GLN Password Once received, please forward the details on to us.

ASM Sequoia

For ASM Sequoia you need to complete their . They will then contact you for the next steps.
ASM Sequoia will need to be on latest version available. Once complete we can link our software to theirs.

You will need to tell us at the CCS-UK badges you have so can contact CCS-UK on your behalf and setup for CDS.