Changes to the UK’s customs systems

Full customs controls were introduced between the EU and the UK on 1 January 2022. HMRC are now highlighting the changes to the UK’s customs systems, including the steps that affected businesses will need to take to prepare for the transition.

The UK is preparing to move all customs declarations from the current system, Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), to the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

The CDS will become the UK’s single customs platform after 31 March 2023, replacing the CHIEF system.  After the changeover, all businesses will need to declare all imported and exported goods through the CDS.

Ahead of the complete closure of CHIEF on 31 March, services will be withdrawn in two stages:

  • Phase 1                 After 30 September 2022, all import declarations will end.
  • Phase 2                After 31 March 2023, all export declarations will end.

The CDS has been developed over several years in consultation with the border industry. It will provide a more secure and stable platform that has the capacity and capability to grow in line with the government’s ambitious trade plans.  HMRC points out that the CDS has seen over 2.5 million consignments successfully processed already.

HMRC stated that businesses should work with their software developers to initiate the move over to the CDS and to ensure their systems are compatible to allow declarations to be made directly through the new system.

Businesses that use customs agents will need those agents to submit their completed declarations to the CDS in future.

For more information on these matters, contact our VAT team at