Upcoming Changes to UK’s Customs Systems

Luca Clivati
August 29, 2022

It seems such a short time since HMRC sent a reminder letter in March 2022 recalling the upcoming changes to the UK’s customs systems and explaining what to do to prepare for these changes.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, here’s a brief recap.

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, which is now nearly 30 years old (it was introduced in 1994), will close in two phases:

  • Phase one: After 30 September 2022, the ability to make import declarations will end
  • Phase two: After 31 March 2023, the ability to make export declarations will end

The Customs Declaration Service will serve as the UK’s single customs platform, with all businesses needing to declare all imported and exported goods through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) after 31 March 2023.

CDS benefits and key changes

As mentioned on the HMRC website, the Customs Declaration Service toolkit gives traders access to the many benefits of the upcoming changes. In summary:


  • Using the latest technology, CDS delivers an enhanced service and user experience
  • CDS has the capacity and capability to grow in line with the government’s growth agenda, alongside plans to increase the volume of international trade
  • CDS offers a host of specialist functions and interfaces. Underpinned by modern, cloud-based architecture, it’s fully agile and adjustable
  • Businesses can declare all goods on one platform simultaneously, regardless of the customer journey. This process reduces operational costs and lessens the administrative burden of running two separate customs systems
  • Declaration data is transparent and free of charge – businesses can easily access real-time import and export data and check tariffs and financial statements online using dedicated digital dashboards
  • CDS is designed to be completed digitally.

CDS changes

  • CDS captures some information differently, and the way the business inputs data is different (additional information and supplementary documents will be required for some commodity codes imported into the UK)
  • There will be additional methods to make payments of customs duties as follows:
    • Cash accounts
    • Duty deferment accounts
    • Immediate payments
    • Guarantee accounts
    • Individual guarantees
  • CDS enables you to update customs agent permissions online

What does this mean in practice?

To be able to use CDS and import goods into the UK from 1 October 2022 and to export from 1 April 2023, businesses are required to have the following:

Businesses should also consider:

  • If they’re already signed up for CDS because they’re using postponed accounting for import VAT and download their certificates via CDS
  • If they’re not using postponed accounting on imports, paper C79 will no longer be sent and will be available digitally moving forward
  • Any training or information the business needs to provide to staff
  • Any changes to the finance processes, for example setting up a new Direct Debit for a duty deferment account, or how to pay into its cash account
  • Whether the business details (email and business address) match HMRC records or if they need updating

Take Action

Want to know more about how changes to the UK’s customs systems will impact your business and its compliance? Contact us to find out more.

Sign up for Email Updates

Stay up to date with the latest tax and compliance updates that may impact your business.


Luca Clivati

Luca joined Sovos in 2022 and is a senior manager of the consulting team within Compliance Services. He holds a Master’s degree in International Economics and has 13+ years of experience on cross-border transactions and international VAT and GST. Luca specializes in tax consulting advisory focusing on indirect taxes, diagnosis, solution, development and implementation of clients’ tax requirements, VAT compliance and tax due diligences within the EU and in jurisdictions outside of it (mostly Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore).
Share this post

September 26, 2023
Taxation of Motor Insurance Policies

When considering motor insurance, it’s worth remembering that everything is high – from tax rates to the amount of administration required. This blog explains motor insurance in Europe, covering the types of applicable taxes, how they are calculated, vehicle exemptions and more. Insurance coverage in Europe on motor-related risks According to Annex 1 of the […]

EMEA VAT & Fiscal Reporting
September 18, 2023
Intrastat Thresholds: Current Exemption Values

Intrastat thresholds are value thresholds which decide if companies in an EU Member State qualify to file a return to tax authorities, based on their intra-community trading. These thresholds change annually, prompting businesses to conduct an annual recalculation to know their obligations. This blog contains all the Intrastat reporting thresholds for 2023, as well as […]

EMEA VAT & Fiscal Reporting
September 18, 2023
Intrastat Guide: Reporting, Numbers, Thresholds

Intrastat is an obligation created in 1993 that applies to certain businesses that trade internationally in the European Union. Specifically, it relates to the movement of goods – arrivals and dispatches – across EU Member States. The requirements of Intrastat remain similar across the EU, though certain Member States have implemented rules differently. As a […]

EMEA VAT & Fiscal Reporting
August 22, 2023
OSS VAT Returns: Deadlines, Exclusions and Penalties

Sovos’ recent observations of audits by EU Tax Authorities are that Tax Officers are paying more attention to the contents of One Stop Shop (OSS) VAT Returns. They have challenged, and even excluded, companies from this optional scheme. OSS VAT returns must contain details of supplies made to customers in each Member State of consumption […]

E-Invoicing Compliance Latin America
August 17, 2023
Chile: Changes in the Electronic Ticket for Sales and Services

The Chilean Internal Revenue Service (SII) recently published version 4.00 of the document describing the format of electronic tickets for Sales and Services. The electronic ticket (or Boleta Electrónica) is an electronic receipt issued for the sale of goods or services to individuals, consumers or end users. The document includes basic information about the transaction, […]