If you’re an international trader whose business imports goods into the UK, you should already be in the process of moving to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) platform.
With all import declarations required to go through the CDS from 1st October 2022, there are only two weeks to go before businesses risk being unable to import goods into the UK.
HMRC has been writing to hundreds of thousands of UK businesses for several months now with information about the switch, but a few thousand businesses are yet to register.
If you haven’t registered for the new online service yet, you should start the process as quickly as possible to reduce disruptions to your trade. Keep reading to find out what your business needs to do to continue UK imports from October 2022.
When is the CHIEF system closing down?
For the last three decades, businesses have been using the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system when moving goods by land, air, and sea. This system allows freight forwarders, importers, and exporters to electronically manage customs formalities.
However, this old system is due to be completely replaced by the upgraded Customs Declaration Service this year. The CDS has been running since 2018, encouraging a gradual transition for UK businesses. This more user-friendly and functional system is part of the UK border transformation, which envisions a streamlined ‘Single Trade Window’ for better data use and convenience.
The CHIEF system already closed to new registrations in July 2022, but it will continue limited operations until it shuts down for good next year. These are the dates you need to know:
- ⦿ 30th September 2022 – CHIEF partially closes to all import declarations
- ⦿ 1st October 2022 – all import declarations must now go through CDS
- ⦿ 31st March 2023 – CHIEF fully closes to all customs declarations
- ⦿ 1st April 2023 – all export declarations must also go through CDS
As you can see, exporters will still be able to use the CHIEF system until next spring, but importers only have until the end of this month to sign up for the CDS. When you do, you’ll have the benefit of:
- ⦿ Submitting customs documents digitally using the secure upload service
- ⦿ Accessing all financial data in a single dashboard (allowing you to view statements, make payments, and more)
- ⦿ Receiving real-time alerts and notifications for your customs declarations and movements
- ⦿ Managing business finances with a duty deferment account to clear goods without delays
If you haven’t set up your CDS account yet, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later, before the CDS becomes the sole UK customs platform.
How to subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service
In order to switch your account from CHIEF to CDS, you’ll need to register using your Government Gateway ID. Whether you’re applying as an individual or a business, you should use the same ID and password. When signing up, you’ll also have to provide your:
- ⦿ EORI number (starts with GB)
- ⦿ Unique Taxpayer Reference number
- ⦿ National Insurance number (sole traders)
- ⦿ Business address (as held on customs records)
- ⦿ Business start date
If your registration is successful, this will link your EORI number and CDS account to your Government Gateway account. Most subscribers will be able to sign in and access the CDS within 2 hours, but it could take up to 5 working days if HMRC needs to carry out further checks.
Once you’re able to sign in with your Government Gateway ID and password, you can immediately:
- ⦿ Use your own purchased software or a cash account for CDS declarations
- ⦿ Get postponed import VAT and import VAT/duty adjustment statements
- ⦿ Check how to pay VAT and duties on imports
- ⦿ Set up a Direct Debit for a duty deferment account
- ⦿ Upload documents and receive messages about customs declarations
- ⦿ Manage your email address for CDS communications
- ⦿ Add team members when using your business tax account
If you have a customs agent who deals with declarations and duty payments on your behalf, you cannot register for the CDS using their ID or account information – you must use your own. You can discuss authority controls with your agent before giving them access and clearance instructions.
Where to get help with Customs Declaration Service registration
There is plenty of guidance available online from HMRC to help importers, exporters, and customs agents with the transition to the Customs Declaration Service. This includes the following range of toolkits, checklists, and guides:
- ⦿ Communication pack
- ⦿ Trader checklist
- ⦿ Trader Dress Rehearsal service
- ⦿ Declarant checklist
- ⦿ Customs agents list
- ⦿ Example import declarations
- ⦿ Videos and recorded webinars
All of the information published by HMRC about the Customs Declaration Service can be found on the government website. You can also contact CDS customer support services either online, by phone, or by post with import and export enquiries. It’s advisable to use webchat for faster responses, as the deadline for importers is rapidly approaching.
If you aren’t already using bonded warehouses, then this CDS transition period could also be an opportunity to adjust and streamline your import process. When you use a bonded warehouse to store imported goods, you can defer duty payments until they leave storage and enter the UK market – which can be helpful if you need more time to get to grips with the CDS platform.
As distribution and logistics experts, you can trust John K. Philips with everything from transport and delivery to standard storage and bonded warehousing. Browse our website for more information on our services or get in touch with enquiries about our bonded warehouse today.