CDS – The new Customs systems is coming !

CDS is coming in 2018 – All you need to know


The Customs Declaration System (CDS) replaces CHIEF in 2018. Trade and Customs must be ready. Testing with port inventory operators is underway and migration of end users such as brokers and forwarders is planned for August 2018 onward,to be completed, fingers crossed by January 2019 ahead of the UK departure from the EU.

The change is a major Customs IT project. It already has the attention of senior government officials being an essential part of the supply chain for cross-border trade. CDS roll-out will become critical, and a public-political spectacle played out to the media if deployment runs late or if Brexit negotiations result in full declarations being required to and from Europe.

The project has a government “amber status” meaning there are risks ahead and HM Treasury funding for worst-case Brexit contingencies has not yet been approved.

Trade has a major effort ahead to make a seamless transition and success of CDS. The inventory providers and software houses are working hard to get their IT interfaces ready however it is front-line users working as brokers and forwarders who create the declarations who are the core user group. It is that user group that will face the greatest challenge and need detailed understanding of the changes.

Do they have plans in place to have the new vendor software installed in time? More importantly, will users be trained and ready to create import and export declarations in the new format? If not then cross-border trade becomes impossible aside from any Brexit challenges.

Stella Jarvis, HMRC

Recently we heard from Stella Jarvis, Head of CDS , Customs Transformation at HMRC. She is responsible for the delivery of CDS (no pressure Stella!)

Key points from Stella Jarvis’s presentation to ACITA:

  • CHIEF relied on old technology, cannot cope with volumes or post-Brexit rules.
  • CDS allows close alignment with the new Union Customs Code (UCC) and UK Customs laws post-Brexit.
  • CDS provides technial flexibility for future change.
  • CDS aligns with UCC data sets.
  • 6 month user transition period (from August 2018).
  • Commercial software houses will manage roll out to their own end users case by case. HMRC will oversee.
  • HMRC focused migration of port inventory operators (CSPs) and Fast Parcel Operators (eg Fedex,UPS,DHL)
  • Dual running of CHIEF and CDS is supported. Gradual ramp up of volume on CDS during dual running.
  • Multi-channel support systems will be provided by HMRC.
  • First trade tests planned for December 2017 with 5 software houses.
  • CDS will automate applications for EORI reducing turnaround to a few minutes (from 3 days).

HMRC are keen to engage with all stakeholders. First point of contact is via email to

Read our previous updates about CDS here:

Clearlight Customs provide friendly,practical support and advice on all Customs matters. Queries about how you or your broker will cope with CDS –  Contact us at or call 01283 553099.




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