Guidance

Using CHIEF for declaring goods into or out of Northern Ireland

Find out when you will still be able to use CHIEF for declaring goods into or out of Northern Ireland.

The use of Customs Handling Imports and Export Freight (CHIEF) to submit import declarations for goods brought into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU is being phased out.

From 31 October 2021, the Customs Declaration Service will replace CHIEF for these movements.

You can now use the Customs Declaration Service to declare all movements of goods in and out of Northern Ireland. You should consider moving to the service to declare goods brought into Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

If you’re not ready to migrate, you can register for the free Trader Support Service.

When you can still use CHIEF

You can still use CHIEF for declaring goods entering Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU.

You can do this for declaring goods:

  • brought directly into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU
  • sent directly from Northern Ireland to outside the UK and EU

You can also still use CHIEF for declaring goods brought into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU through Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) if the goods are:

  • not customs cleared in Great Britain
  • moved by transit from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

Traders in Northern Ireland will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number with an XI prefix:

CHIEF will not be compatible with XI prefixes and traders will need to use their GB prefixed EORI on CHIEF.

When you cannot use CHIEF

You cannot use CHIEF for declaring goods into or out of Northern Ireland for:

  • movements of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland (other than transshipment)
  • indirect EU exports (movements of goods from Northern Ireland to a country outside the UK and EU through an EU member state)

If you import into a customs special procedure on CHIEF for movements of goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU, you will not be able to re-export directly into Great Britain using CHIEF. More guidance about this will be published as soon as possible.

Check what you’ll need to do before making a declaration

You’ll need to check if you can declare your goods not ‘at risk’ of onward movement into the EU under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

If your goods are ‘at risk’ you will have to work out the applicable EU tariff, taking account of the duties applicable which can be done using online calculation tools, or through talking to your customs agent.

For goods entering Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU, CHIEF will automatically calculate the UK tariff.

Making a declaration

Complete your declaration on CHIEF as normal if both:

If you cannot declare your goods not ‘at risk’, you’ll need to input the correct EU tariff amount you have manually calculated into box 47 in the CHIEF declaration. Find out how to manually override duties.

If you are moving a mixture of goods that are ‘at risk and not ‘at risk’, you will have to declare these on separate declarations using CHIEF.

There is limited functionality in CHIEF for movements into and out of Northern Ireland.

The use of the following customs procedure codes will not be possible in CHIEF for movements of ‘at risk’ goods into and out of Northern Ireland:

  • 5100001
  • 5100003
  • 5171001
  • 5171004

In this scenario, you’ll need to use form C2001 to tell HMRC about voluntary underpayments arising on import of goods and to account for the EU tariff.

Published 24 December 2020
Last updated 7 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. From 31 October 2021, the Customs Declaration Service will replace CHIEF when submitting import declarations for goods brought into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU.

  2. You should now consider switching to the Customs Declaration Service to declare goods moving in and out of Northern Ireland.

  3. Information has been added about changes from 31 August 2021, where from this date you must use the Customs Declarations Service instead of CHIEF to declare goods brought into Northern Ireland by airfreight from outside the UK and EU.

  4. Added information on how to make a declaration for your goods in CHIEF into and out of Northern Ireland, and how to apply for authorisation to declare goods not ‘at risk’.

  5. Information updated about discussing the use of CHIEF before making declarations.

  6. First published.