Customs Declaration Service


HMRC begins roll out of new Customs Declaration Service

Updated Jan 2019

In August, HMRC launched the first release of its new Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which is replacing the 25 year old Customs Handing of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

CDS is a modern and flexible system that will allow importers and exporters who trade outside of the EU to include more items with each declaration, potentially reducing how many declarations they need to make.

For the first time, your Government Gateway account will include a record of all your businesses’ imports and exports.

HMRC will contact you directly if you are currently an importer, or if you use an agent of freight forwarder please contact them. It is recommended that any business not currently registered with HMRC as importing use an agent for their imports / exports.

CDS is being introduced gradually and the timing of a move over to it will depend on when your business, or your software developer or agent, are ready. Developers should already be working with HMRC to update their software applications and, if they haven’t already, they will contact you soon to explain if there’s anything else you need to do.

For most importers and exporters this will include confirming your company’s Government Gateway account details, registering for the CDS service through it and authorising their software application.

Access to CDS

If you handle your own importation documents through CHIEF then your in-house software team will be given access to CDS by HMRC for testing compatiability. HMRC will contact you direct.

If you use an agent or freight forwarder they should be already speaking with HMRC, so you should contact them ASAP as there will be changes to the documentation you will be asked to provide them for importing plants. Tariffs will change & therefore HMRC documentation requirements will also change.

What To Do Now

If your business trades outside of the EU, you should use this time to familiarise yourself with changes to the tariff list which has been updated to meet the requirements of the Union Customs Code. Guidance explaining the new changes to the tariff can be found on the Government website

Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. However, the Government must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. With just a few weeks until our exit from the EU, we have reached the point where everyone needs to accelerate and intensify preparations.

There is a latest version of the EU Exit partnership pack also a new (as of Jan 2019)  EU exit portal which gives businesses and individuals guidance on what you a need to do to prepare.


The Horticultural Trades Association is working with HMRC to provide relevant information to businesses and encourages you to visit the Customs Declaration Service for the latest updates.


Contact Sally Cullimore, Policy Executive for more information. email: