HMRC: Outgoing customs IT system closes to new import registrants

Tax agency reminds traders of need to sign up for new digital service

Credit: PxHere

The UK’s outgoing IT system for processing customs declarations has now closed to new registrations from import firms.

HM Revenue and Customs is nearing the end of the process of retiring the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, which has been used to process traders’ import and export declarations since 1994. 

As of 10am this morning, the platform is no longer accepting new registrations for importers. It will stop processing import declarations altogether on 30 September.

Traders that need to register to declare imports must now do so using the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which began operating in 2018 and will soon entirely replace CHIEF – which will stop processing export declarations on 31 March next year and, therafter, shut down completely.

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Confirming the closure of CHIEF to new import registrants, government said that CDS will deliver “a significant upgrade by providing businesses with a more user-friendly, streamlined system that offers greater functionality”.

Carol Bristow, director general for borders and trade at HMRC, said: “The Customs Declaration Service is taking over from CHIEF after almost 30 years. The system will become the UK’s single customs platform allowing for all businesses to submit their customs documents digitally and safely. It is straightforward for importers to register on the system and start making their import declarations as soon as possible.”

The new customs platform will integrate with the Single Trade Window (STW) which, once complete, aims to provide traders with a single digital platform through which they will be able to manage all their interactions with government – including those with HMRC, the Home Office, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

As part of its 2025 UK Border Strategy, the government has committed £180m to the (STW) project, which HMRC said “will have considerable benefits for businesses through reduced form-filling, better data use across government and a smoother experience for users”.


Sam Trendall

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