Complex Customs Clearance Simplified

Customs Declaration System (CDS)

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in August 2018 had a phased launch of its new customs system (CDS) which will replace the current Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system (Chief). The benefit of CDS is that it is a modern flexible system equipped to deal with the increasing number of custom entries. It also has the potential to reduce the number of declarations you might need to make if you are trading outside of the EU.

Staged approach

The first phase of the CDS implementation was in August 2018 and it is expected that the final phase will be completed sometime in 2020. At the moment, the Chief system is running in conjunction with the CDS system, no date has been announced for when the Chief system will no longer be in operation, but we expect it to be sometime in 2020 as well, so make sure you are prepared.

To ensure that declarations meet the standards required under the UCC and to capitalize on the additional benefits that CDS can offer to importers and exporters, extra, more in-depth, or changes to information will be required for declarations.

Additional information that will be required:

  • An audit trail of previous document IDs
  • Additional party types, such as 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

Our experienced Customs Compliance team are able to handle your Customs Clearance declarations on your behalf. 


Speak to Justin

To learn more about how we can help you with your complex customs clearance needs, click here. Or, if you'd like to speak directly with Justin, you can contact him here. 

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Justin Hope