Ready to Change from CHIEF to CDS? | Specialist Commercial Law Milton Keynes

Are you aware of the HMRC CHIEF system changes?

From August 2018 HMRC will begin a phased launch of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). CDS will replace the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, and the goal is for all declarations taking place on CDS from early 2019.

CHIEF is a 25 year old system that currently processes declarations to facilitate the international movement of goods between the UK and non-EU countries. The decision to replace CHIEF was made before the results of the EU referendum but HMRC are now increasing the scale of CDS in order to handle any increase in the volume of declarations that may be create as a result of Brexit discussions. If you are not familiar with the differences between a free trade area, single market and a customs union you can read our guide here. CHIEF will continue to run for a time to aid the transition to CDS through to 2019.

How will this affect me as an importer and exporter?

If you or your company are currently importing or exporting goods outside the EU, it is highly likely you or your agent will be currently using CHIEF to:

  • process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports
  • calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes
  • complete customs information electronically

Once CDS is in place you will still be able to do these things on CDS, but:

  • you will need to sign into CDS on GOV.UK through a Government Gateway account
  • CDS will offer several new and existing services in one place – viewing previous import and export data on pre-defined reports, checking the tariffs, applying for new authorisations and simplifications, and checking duty deferment statement
  • online help will include self-service tools, guides and checklists

Why do I need to know about these changes?

If the legal requirements of the procedure or duty relief claimed aren’t met, you as the person making the declaration, or the person in whose name the declaration is being made, may become liable to any customs duties and import VAT due.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will examine the degree of care with which a business selected a customs representative to whom it entrusted the preparation of its customs declarations.

It’s important to carry out appropriate due diligence before undertaking any transactions. This can include but is not limited to research on the product/market, researching and checking customer(s) details, entering into written contracts or other relevant checks. Consideration should also be given to how or in which way a transaction will or did occur. You must consider the potential risks and satisfy yourself as to the integrity of your suppliers and customers, and of the underlying supply chain.

Altion Law can assist with any Unpaid VAT or other associated Custom Debt Liability situations that you or your business maybe facing. Call our expert team today for a confidential discussion on 01908 414990 or email us on