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Customs Procedure CHIEF Will be Replaced by CDS in June

CDS (Customs Declaration Services) was set to replace CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) on the 31st of May this year. HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) has announced an extended timeframe. CDS will officially replace CHIEF on the 4th of June 2024. From the 5th of June, all exports and imports must be processed through CDS.

In 1994, the UK introduced a system that would revolutionise the process of importing and exporting goods overseas, known as CHIEF. CHIEF was designed to manage the declarations and movement of goods in and out of the United Kingdom. The system allowed importers, exporters, and freight forwarders to complete customs electronically, automatically checking for any errors upon entry.

In recent years, the decision to upgrade CHIEF to a more modern and updated customs procedure was finalised. The announcement of the new system, CDS later came from HMRC. The replacement has been gradual, with the transition happening over several years, but by June 4th CHIEF can no longer be used to declare goods.

What are some of the key differences between CHIEF and CDS?

  • CHIEF offered free web-based access to the system, allowing anyone to create a customs declaration. CDS does not include this feature. Businesses will need to have customs software to be able to complete a declaration. The team at Wallis Shipping is CDS trained and has the appropriate software. We are here to help transport your goods with ease.

  • CHIEF used Community Customs Codes with paper-based rules, whereas CDS uses Union Customs Codes and data processing rules.

  • CHIEF used a 7-digit fixed Customs Procedure Code for each goods item whereas CDS’ Procedure Codes are split into two for a single goods item, a 4-digit Procedure Code, and up to 99 Additional Procedure Codes, each with 3 digits.

  • CHIEF required up to 68 ‘boxes’ of information to be completed for import declarations and 45 for export declarations whereas CDS requires up to 76 ‘Data Elements’ for imports and 65 for exports.

Why is it important that businesses understand the Customs Declaration Service (CDS)?

Businesses must understand CDS to ensure they comply with import and export regulations. Failure to comply can result in delays in shipment, fines, or other penalties. Due to some differences between CDS and its predecessor CHIEF, businesses need to be aware of the specific data elements and formats required for customs declarations to ensure they comply with CDS standards.

The last day for making export declarations on CHIEF is the 4th of June. From the 5th of June, all goods will need to be declared using CDS.

Do you need customs declarations support?

Get in touch with our expert team today. With over 35 years of industry experience, Wallis Shipping is here to help manage your imports and exports wherever they need to go.


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