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Customs Declarations: Answers to the most FAQs


What is a customs declaration?

A customs declaration is an official document that lists the details of goods which are being imported and exported from and to the UK/EU.


Why do we need a customs declaration?

The UK Government, particularly HMRC, need to understand the nature, quantity and value of goods leaving and entering the UK. Other organisations such as UK Border Force and DEFRA also need to be involved. They need to know this to: help shape trade policies, generate tax and duty revenue, for safety and security and to monitor compliance.


What key information is required?

HMRC will need to know who the exporter, importer and representative is making the declaration. They will also want to know: the commodity code, why the goods are being moved, value, weight, mode of transport, any documentation that is required such as an export licence and where the goods are leaving from and going to.


How do you submit a customs declaration?

Customs declarations are input online through CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight). Most traders and agents use specialist software which helps them to complete declarations and submit to CHIEF. The CHIEF system will soon be replaced by the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) but we will keep you updated on these changes.


Who processes a customs declaration?

The declaration is usually processed by the owner of the goods or a selected representative, for example customs broker, freight agent or local Chamber of Commerce.


Where can I find further guidance?

For further guidance on customs declarations, you can speak to your freight agent or contact our International Trade team at exportbritain@gmchamber.co.uk.

Full guidance on how to complete these documents can be found online in the UK Trade Tariff.


How else can we help?

  • How to Complete Customs Declarations” Training: this one-day course delivered virtually will provide attendees basic working knowledge of how to complete simple import and export customs declarations entries. This course will also help you understand what information you need to provide to the customs agents in charge of doing customs declarations on your behalf.

  • Chamber Customs: We can complete customs declarations on your behalf; we work with exporters and importers of all sizes and have direct links to all sea, air, rail, road ports and terminals in the UK.

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