Date: 15.03.2023

Critical export customs changes draw near

HMRC will be writing to traders to raise awareness that all export declarations currently made through CHIEF, must be made through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) by 30th November 2023 and that they must register for the service.

The customs handling of import and export freight system (CHIEF), which has been in use by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for nearly 30 years, was due to be replaced when the UK left the European Union (EU), but its CDS replacement was not ready to handle the large increase in customs declarations.

The decision to create CDS was made before the EU referendum in 2015 and CDS was originally scheduled to launch in 2019 but as Brexit changed the UK’s trading landscape so dramatically, CHIEF was retained, while CDS was scaled to handle the increase in the volume of declarations resulting from Brexit, which has been estimated at 400 million p.a.

The migration from paper-based rules on CHIEF, to data processing rules on CDS was scheduled in two stages, with import declarations moving on the 30th September 2022, while exports, which were due to migrate on the 31st March 2023, have had their deadline extended to the 30th November 2023.

At the start of the year HMRC data showed that more than a quarter of businesses had not signed up to CDS and could potentially find themselves unable to export.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has been critical of the deadline extension, saying that HMRC should do more to spur companies to sign up and pointing out that delays were unfair to those that had already invested in switching over.

HMRC said: “The majority of frequent traders have now migrated to CDS, with 91% of import declarations now being made on the system. Through our extension process we have provided extra time for those who had a good reason why they couldn’t migrate to CDS. We continue to work with declarants to support them moving across and ensure there is no disruption to trade.”

It is critical to note that CDS requires far more data and specific information than CHIEF and may involve changes to commercial documentation.

Metro clients have been migrated onto the CDS platform and are supported by our customs brokerage team, but you must hold a valid GB EORI and be registered on the Government Gateway to use CDS. 

If you have not registered for CDS, or are uncertain how it applies to you, we can guide you through the changes and actions required. 

EMAIL Andy Fitchett, Brokerage Manager, for further information, or to discuss your situation.