The new £157m Customs Declaration Service (CDS) will go live just three months before Britain leaves the EU. Introducing a massive new programme at such a critical time is making many nervous, but we believe that CDS represents a massive step forward.

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, like Brexit!

Launched in 1989, the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system processes the clearance of goods moving between the UK and non-EU countries. It’s a system we know intimately and it works well, but it has been at capacity for years and change has been a long time coming.

The decision to replace CHIEF with CDS was made before the EU referendum however, CDS will be scaled to handle increases in the volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s, which may be as many as 199 million p.a.

As recent as last year, CDS was in potential trouble, with Whitehall’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority finding that it faced “major risks” and required “urgent action”. 

Within months, its rating was upgraded and HMRC remains bullish about the project, insisting CDS is “on track for delivery by January 2019.” 

But some are worried. One big fear is that however well HMRC’s own systems perform, Brexit will require 130,000 traders to start making customs declarations for the first time — and they will be doing so on a new and untried computer network.

Norman Global Logistics will ensure that, whatever happens with Brexit, all our customers are kept up to date with any significant changes or developments. We will educate, guide and support, so that their supply chains are not impeded. 

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin a phased launch of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in August 2018, when it will begin operating alongside CHIEF.

If everything proceeds satisfactorily, CDS will replace CHIEF from early 2019.

The main changes

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

  • Process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU
  • 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 are changes and enhancements, which means that they will also be able to:

  • Check tariffs
  • Check duty deferment status
  • Help tools, guides and checklists
  • View reports on previous imports and exports
  • Apply for new authorisations and simplifications

Alignment with the EU Union Customs Code and the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention and international standards will result in additional information requirements including:

  • An audit trail of previous document IDs
  • New party types, such as the buyer and seller
  • Additional commercial references or tracking numbers
  • Location of goods identification (based on UNLOCODE)
  • Warehouse type code list
  • Item tax lines, including method of payment codes
  • Unit of quantity codes (ISO)
  • 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.