Customs Declaration Service

HMRC warns - Switch to the new Customs Declaration Service now or risk "significant delays" on imports.

HMRC sent correspondence to many companies informing them of the new British Customs Declaration Service (CDS) system. If you do not act quickly, your customs broker may not be able to file declarations, which will result in delays in receiving the goods for your company.

The first stage of the transition to CDS, which concerns imports, is to be completed by September 30, 2022. You should enroll in the CDS as soon as possible to minimize the risk of delays in customs clearance. If you have been receiving Postponed Import VAT reports from the UK website after June 2, 2019, you are already registered with CDS and do not need to do anything else, unless you have a UK Duty Deferment Account.

To complete your registration, you will need access to Government Gateway, which you can obtain at the following link:

If your company has a Duty Deferment Account, you must create a separate Direct Debit for CDS. To do this, go to Customs Financials and log in using the credentials provided when opening an account via the following link:

The following information is required: account holder’s name (as it appears on your bank statement), sort code and account number, and bank or building society name and address.

If you do not acquire access, your customs brokers may not be able to access your customs deferrals. To enable customs brokers to use the duty deferral account in CDS, you must first configure each of them in the Customs Financial Portal. Within 24 hours, this will allow agents to use the duty deferral account in the CDS.

You may encounter a situation where your products will be reported under the old and new systems, as your customs agents transfer to the CDS system at different times during the transition phase. If you have any questions regarding the above procedures, please contact us and one of our representatives will contact you to discuss these matters.

Key changes

New "Data Element" fields for declarations which are only available in certain formats and not in "free text" as in CHIEF.

A new dashboard that gives you access to view and manage declarations.

The CDS divides the Customs Procedure Code into two parts - a four-digit code combined with one of up to 99 three-digit Additional Procedure Codes (APCs).

More detailed customs information will be required in the future.

Help for importers

Further information and support is available on the government website, including the CDS toolkit, import and export guides, and checklists.

HMRC also contacts declarants by phone and e-mail to inform them of the steps they need to take.

The department previously wrote to more than 220,000 companies urging them to switch to the new system ahead of the deadline.