Navigation and Content
You are in  United Kingdom
or Select a different country

Customs Declaration Service

Explore the replacement to CHIEF for United Kingdom Customer Declarations

HMRC’s Customs Declaration Service (CDS) – a flexible declaration system that can handle anticipated future import and export growth – is set to replace CHIEF as the UK’s single customs platform, supporting the UK’s trade with the EU and the rest of the world. Here we breakdown what that transition could means for your business.

Is Your Business Ready?

The decision to replace CHIEF with CDS was made before the EU referendum, but developments since have been factored into the planning so that CDS is scaled to handle the increase in the volume of declarations resulting from Brexit.

CDS already plays an essential role in movements between Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland and the rest of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions about CDS

When will the changes come into effect?

The switchover to CDS will take place in two phases:

  • All import declarations must be made in CDS from 1 October 2022 - completed
  • All export declarations must be made in CDS  by 1 December 2023

How will this affect your business?

From the dates outlined above, all UK import and export customs declarations must be made in CDS rather than in CHIEF. It is possible that the transition timeframe may change; we will keep you updated if it does.

The good news is that if DHL Global Forwarding handles your customs declarations, we are CDS experts and already successfully clearing shipments through the system. Therefore, we will automatically switch to CDS for your declarations from the dates required and the transition should be seamless for you, although we do need some one-off information from you as outlined below.

What are the next steps your business needs to take?

If you are an importer or exporter of goods to or from the UK:

Please share your new CDS Authorisation numbers and Customs Guarantee details with us as soon as possible using our simple form. Submit CDS Authorisation Information.

If you have not yet received this information from HMRC, please contact your usual HMRC office.

If you are a UK importer and run your own Deferment Account, you need to do the following as soon as possible to ensure that your deferment is ready to use with CDS:

Key Differences Between CHIEF and CDS

The best explanation of the difference and more useful information about the transition from CHIEF to CDS can be found at the UK government website but here are a few key differences.

Customs Legislation

CHIEF is based on the Community Customs Code (CCC) and Single Administrative Document (SAD) Harmonisation rules. CDS is based on the Union Customs Code (UCC) and data integration and harmonisation rules. 

This means: It’s a move from using paper-based rules on CHIEF to data processing rules on CDS.


CHIEF declaration completion requirements can be found in the CHIEF Tariff.

CDS declaration completion requirements can be found in the CDS Tariff which includes separate sections for declaring imports, declaring exports, Inventory Imports, and inventory exports. 

This means: Using the correct tariff is essential. CDS declarations using the CHIEF tariff will be rejected. And declarations using CHIEF codes will be rejected, too, as the code does not exist on CDS.

We're Here to Help

Whether you're currently using DHL Global Forwarding for CDS or not, we're ready to help.