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Businesses who make import/export declarations urged to act ahead of the closure of CHIEF

HMRC have issued letters to traders advising them on the closure of its CHIEF System (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight). It will close in 2 phases – for import declarations on 30 September 2022 and for exports on 31 March 2023. After these dates, import and export declarations can only be made via CDS (Customer Declaration Service). Businesses are being urged to start moving to CDS now.

Many businesses will already be using CDS for VAT purposes as they needed to sign up to CDS to obtain their postponed import VAT accounting statements. These businesses are being asked to check their contact details are up to date on their account.

If a business submits declarations themselves or uses an agent and CHIEF is still being used, the steps below will need to be followed:

  • Step 1: Register for a Government Gateway account – most business will have a Government Gateway account to access their personal or business tax account and it is this account that should be used to access CDS. If a business does not have one, they can sign up here
  • Step 2: Apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number – most businesses that move goods in or out of the UK should have an EORI number that starts with a GB. If an EORI number is needed it can be applied for here
  • Step 3: Register for the Customs Declaration Service – this can be done here and can take up to 5 working days. The following information will be needed to be able to do this:
    • Government Gateway user ID and password
    • GB EORI number
    • 10-digit Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number
    • Business address
    • National Insurance number (if an individual or sole trader)
    • Date the business started.
  • Step 4: Choose which payment method to use – you will need to choose how you will settle the charges. The main payment methods you can choose from are:
    • Duty deferment account (CDS uses a separate HMRC bank account to CHIEF, so a new direct debit will be needed)
    • Postponed VAT accounting
    • Cash account (these replace the Flexible Accounting System (FAS), and you’ll be set up with one once you’ve registered for the Customs Declaration Service
    • BACS, CHAPS, online or by telephone banking
    • Individual guarantee
    • General guarantee account (this allows multiple guarantees from the same account).

If someone submits customs declarations for you

  • Step 5: Instruct your customs broker or agent – they will need to be provided with clearance instructions which are compliant with the CDS. This could include:
    • Using the CDS Finance Dashboard to set up, check or update which customs agents can use your accounts
    • Confirm any changes to the preferred method of payment
    • Details about the international movement (incoterms, awareness for all values, the location information, and nature of transaction information).

If you submit declarations yourself

  • Step 5: Authorise your software provider to make declarations on your behalf – this will your software to your Government Gateway account. Your software provider will tell you how to do this and it may need to be regularly refreshed. A list of providers can be found here
  • Step 6: Check the guidance – CDS is based on the Union Customs Code, which is fundamentally different from the Community Customs Code which CHIEF is based on. The key differences can be found here.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with your usual Mitchell Charlesworth advisor.

Written 5 July 2022.