The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) is a computerised service that records the movement of goods by land, air and sea. The system allows importers, exporters and freight forwarders to complete customs information electronically, and automatically checks for entry errors.
However, the CHIEF system is over 25 years old and has struggled to cope with complex reporting requirements that could not easily or cost-effectively be accommodated within the existing service. HMRC has been working on a replacement system for a number of years.
The new system called the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), has been designed for businesses that import or export goods outside the EU, and a phased launch will begin in August 2018. The CHIEF and CDS systems will then run in parallel for a short time to aid the transition from one system to the other. It is expected that all declarations will be made on the CDS from early 2019.
The decision to introduce the CDS predates the Brexit decision by quite some time. However, preparations are being made to scale up the CDS to handle any potential increases in the volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s exit from the EU.
Importers and exporters should by now be aware of this new system and they or their agent should be starting to prepare for the changes. For example, CDS will be accessed on the GOV.UK portal and changes will be required to align UK customs data with international standards.