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The basics - General Information about CDS Declarations

Sequoia v5.0 onwards


The new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is being introduced to replace CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) which has been running since 1994.

New legislation introduces significant changes to the information required in both import and export customs declarations, particularly as it relates to the parties involved in the transaction and the valuation of the goods.

There is also new terminology used extensively in the legislation and by HMRC to describe these changes. Whilst the terminology is new (declaration categories, data elements and declaration types for example), the concepts they are describing are not. These terms are explained below.


We have worked jointly with BIFA (The British International Freight Association) to produce an online elearning course aimed at those wishing to make customs declarations to CDS.

Click the image below - or click [here]

Data Elements

The legislation defines the data required in customs declarations as a series of 'data elements'. These are organised into 8 groups (as listed below), each with a unique reference.

Within each group, the data elements themselves are also given a reference number. The full reference of a data element is therefore presented as the group reference, followed by a slash, followed by the element reference.

A data element [DE] is just one way of referencing some information (such as the declarant's EORI number - DE 3/18) that is required on a declaration. The SAD box number - 14 - is another way.

All the data required under the legislation has a data element number assigned to it in the regulations and is cross-referenced to it's SAD box number where applicable.

Group Description
1 Message Information (including Procedure Codes)
2 References of Messages, Document, Certificates and Authorisations
3 Parties
4 Valuation Information and Taxes
5 Dates, Times, Periods, Places, Countries and Regions
6 Goods Identification
7 Transport Information (Modes, Means and Equipment)
8 Other Data Elements (Statistical Data, Guarantees and Tariff Related Data)

It can be confusing when looking at a list of these data elements in number order as they do not align well to the structure of a declaration (i.e. header then item data) - see the List of Import Data Elements for more information.

Sequoia therefore uses the more familiar SAD box numbers on declaration forms and these pages will list the information in SAD box number order.

Whilst some of the legal definitions of the data required may have changed slightly or been added to, a SAD box still contains essentially the same data as it did for CHIEF declarations under the old legislation.

The CDS declaration forms in Sequoia include a list of data elements for cross-referencing to SAD box numbers if required.

Declaration Categories

Each procedure to which you can declare goods (such as release for free circulation) has been assigned a 'declaration category' under the legislation. These categories simply define which particular information is required for which type of procedure.

For example, you could enter a deferment number for a declaration for free circulation [H1] but you wouldn't do so for a declaration for customs warehousing [H2] as there is no revenue to pay.

This is not new. The old legislation also assigned categories (release for free circulation was category 'H') but they were not referenced in HMRC documentation as they are now.

These categories are important however in that you cannot declare goods under different categories in the same declaration.

Import Categories

Category Type of Procedure Procedure Codes *
H1 Declaration for release for free circulation, and declaration for end use 01, 07, 40, 42, 44, 61
H2 Declaration for Customs Warehousing 71
H3 Declaration for Temporary Admission 53
H4 Declaration for Inward Processing 51
H5 Declaration for the introduction of goods in the context of trade with special fiscal territories 40, 42, 61
I1 Import Simplified Declaration 01, 07, 40, 42, 44, 51, 53, 61, 71
C21 Import Inventory Release To be advised

* First two digits of the procedure code(s) to which the category applies.

Export Categories

Category Type of Procedure Procedure Codes *
B1 Export declaration and re-export declaration 10, 11, 23, 31
B2 Declaration for Outward Processing 21, 22
B3 Declaration for Customs Warehousing of Union goods 76, 77
B4 Declaration for dispatch of goods in the context of trade with special fiscal territories 10
C1 Export Simplified declaration 10, 11, 23, 31
C21 Export Inventory Release To be advised

* First two digits of the procedure code(s) to which the category applies.

Declaration Types

The HMRC documentation also makes extensive reference to 'declaration types'. These simply refer to the last character in SAD box 01 - declaration type and have essentially not changed as a result of the new regulations.

For example, type A refers to a standard (full) declaration; Goods arrived.

Code Type of declaration Goods arrived or not
A Standard customs declaration Goods arrived
B * Simplified declaration on an occasional basis Goods arrived
C ** Simplified declaration with regular use (pre-authorised) Goods arrived
D Standard customs declaration Goods not arrived
E* Simplified declaration on an occasional basis Goods not arrived
F ** Simplified declaration with regular use (pre-authorised) Goods not arrived
J C21 Goods arrived
K C21 Goods not arrived
Y *** Supplementary declaration covered by types C and F Goods arrived
Z *** Supplementary declarations for Entry in Declarants Records Goods arrived

* The data set to be used for the B and E additional declaration types will be specified in the completion notes for the custom procedure being used. Unless specified in the notes, types B and E may not be used.

See Appendix 1: Requested and Previous Procedure Codes and Appendix 2: Additional Procedure Codes for more details.
** For C and F - simplified declaration data requirements identified within the data completion rules are for normal simplified declarations only.

The specific SAD boxes (data elements) in the following pages will indicate where completion on a simplified declaration is only mandatory for:
- controlled goods being entered on a simplified declaration
- a claim to a tariff quota is being made on the simplified declaration.

Where the customs procedure being declared needs additional data to be provided, this will be over and above the data identified against the simplified declaration data set indicated in the following pages.

The specific completion rules detailed in Appendix 1: Requested and Previous Procedure Codes or Appendix 2: Additional Procedure Codes should be followed.

Where the Procedure Code needs the completion of the simplified declaration as a standard (full) declaration, the completion rules, as specified for the full declaration should be followed.
*** Additional declaration types Y and Z must be completed using the appropriate data set for the customs Procedure Code being used.