23.8.2023 | Customs

HMRC announces ‘new phased approach’ for export declarations on CDS

The Government has today (23 August) announced a new timeline for when businesses need to be completing export declarations using the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). 

CDS is replacing the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, and exporters had been due to have moved over to using it by 31 October 2023.

However, HMRC has said that it is now adopting a “new phased approach” with “selected high-volume declarants” being asked to move to CDS for exports by 30 November 2023, with all other businesses being required to use it by 30 March 2024.

Businesses have been required to complete import declarations on CDS since autumn 2022.


HMRC said it came to the decision to change the timelines for migration “after listening to feedback from the industry.”

Sarah Hartley, director of border change delivery at HMRC, said:

“Having worked closely with our industry partners, we’re introducing a phased approach for moving export declarations to CDS.

“Those businesses who have the IT functionality in place are still able to move across to CDS by Thursday, 30 November 2023, ahead of the majority who will now migrate at the beginning of 2024.

“Full guidance, resources and support will be available for all declarants to ensure the transition across to CDS is as smooth as possible for every business.”

HMRC also said the new timeline will allow for “better support” to be provided for exporters migrating to CDS.

Businesses that are able to move to CDS before the first deadline, 30 November, will be contacted by HMRC or their software developer in September.


Kevin Shakespeare, the director of strategic projects and international development at the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), said the extension was “welcome and expected”, but added that businesses will continue to need support with the migration.

“The new phased approach from HMRC will be welcomed by many exporters. IOE&IT is keen to ensure that all businesses get the support they need with the migration – particularly lower-volume declarants who are unsure about their readiness for using CDS.

“IOE&IT is delivering webinars, training and consultancy over the next few months to help all businesses get ready for CDS. We’re here for the whole community – whether that’s high-volume declarants preparing for 30 November or lower-volume businesses preparing for the end of March next year”.

Issues to be worked through

Anna Doherty, a senior trade and customs specialist at IOE&IT, also welcomed the news, saying it gave HMRC and its delivery partners time to work through some of the technological issues posed by the migration.

“The new timeline gives government and businesses breathing space to properly prepare for the CDS migration as issues remain with the new system – including functionalities around creating declarations for inventory-linked locations.

“Exporters which use services of multiple agents for their customs declarations may also find themselves in a position where they have a mix of CHIEF and CDS entries, similarly as we experienced with the roll out of CDS for imports.”

Next steps

HMRC’s Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC) has also written to the industry, following today’s announcement, advising traders that they need to take the following steps to ensure they’re ready for the CDS migration:

Source: Institute of Export and International Trade