Customs declarations: big changes coming soon for freight customers

Sea freight

HMRC is introducing important changes to customs clearance in the UK from 30 September 2022. All freight forwarders will need additional information from customers to effect customs clearance on their behalf. Customers will also need to ensure that they update the way in which they deal with HMRC.

For the last 30 years HMRC has used a software system called Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) to process entry declarations for import and export freight. After 30 September 2022 this system it will be switched off for imports and for exports from 31 March 2023.

The replacement software is called Customs Declaration System (CDS).

What’s the difference between CHIEF and CDS?

CHIEF is essentially a data processing system supported with paper documents and other authorisations whereas CDS is a fully electronic customs system embracing a much wider range of functions. It is compatible with the EU’s Union Customs Code (UCC) and compliant with World Customs Organisation (WCO) guidelines.

An import entry in CHIEF requires a maximum of 58 data boxes to be completed whereas for CDS the figure is 76.

International Forwarding (IFL) will need extra data from customers in order to complete their entries and some other data will need added information.

We will also need to be satisfied that the customer has completed via the Government Gateway registration for CDS and has set up new CDS specific financial arrangements for the payment of VAT and custom duties.

Next steps for customers

We advise customers to consult the following website for detailed information about CDS and how to register and access its facilities:

>> CDS communication pack /

Customers who have an existing customs VAT/duty deferment account for CHIEF will need to set up a new direct debit for CDS. The relevant website is:

>> Set up a DD on your CDS account /

Customers will also need to set up on CDS an authority for IFL to use their deferment account.

We would draw particular attention to the fact that there will be changes to Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs) and we will need additional data for some customs tariff codes. Also specific authorisations such as Inwards Processing Relief (IPR) will need a CDS authorisation number.

Important note: Customers can use their Government Gateway account to access the Customs Declaration Service.

For more information and detailed advice please contact our Customs clearance team.


For a fast quote and reliable, cost-effective freight and logistics services:

t: call us
e: email us

Download latest trailer schedule >

Request a quote

To allow us to provide a more accurate quotation, please fill in the form detailing your requirements.

Upon receipt of your enquiry one of our logistics managers will send over your tailored quotation within 1 hour.

Please note: we do not ship personal effects.