This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

Export Procedures

Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) export declarations: access security

CHIEF is a multi user system used by both Customs and the Trade. It is accessed from a large number of locations throughout the UK. CHIEF’s substantial database holds millions of individual transaction details. In a system of this size it is vital to have a means of controlling who does what. It is important that only authorised users gain access to the system in the first place. With a wide range of transactions available, controls are necessary to limit users to those applicable to their needs. Although transaction data is stored in a common database access to individual data is restricted to ensure appropriate confidentiality.

Each Customs user of the CHIEF system has an individual record set up on CHIEF. This record contains the name and office address of the individual together with the details of the roles the individual can perform and the locations the individual can work from. The individual badge and password are also held in this record.

Authorised access to CHIEF

Where they wish to make an electronic declaration no specific Customs approval is required to do so, but the declarant will need to have authorised access to CHIEF ie have obtained their own CHIEF ‘badge, role and location’ codes from CHIEF Ops. Traders can contact the VAT, Excise and Customs Helpline (formerly the National Advice Service) or download a PA7 application form from the HMRC section of the GOV.UK website.

Alternately, the declarant can arrange for a third party with CHIEF access to submit the declaration on their behalf.

In all cases the export must be lodged, presented to Customs and the declaration cleared with Permission to Progress (P2P) being granted before the goods can be loaded for export.


Job a number of transactions applicable to your work area
Organisation whilst the vast majority of entries are now processed through Salford NCH they retain the prefixes used prior to centralisation to identify the area of the airport/port used. UKBA do carry out frontier CHIEF transactions where there are facilities for them to do so.
Location is a place from which access to CHIEF is permitted. It may consist of one terminal or a group of terminals. A Customs unit may have one or more security locations depending on operational needs
Role defines which job you can use on behalf of Customs

The Technical Team

The National Clearance Hub (NCH) has a Technical Team which is responsible for access security, which includes setting up and maintaining the individual records on CHIEF for the NCH. If you need to be set up on the system, require amendments to be made to your individual record or cannot gain access to the system you should contact your line manager and the technical team who will provide you with a badge code, password and the role(s) which you may use. UKBA also have similar access capabilities for their staff.

Badge code

Before being given access to the facilities of CHIEF you must identify yourself to the system. This you do by entering a badge code which is unique to you.


An initial password allocated by the Technical Team can only be used once. Once logged in CHIEF will prompt you to key in a new password and to then confirm this password.

Except for the initial password allocated by an HO at NCH, you will be responsible for creating your own password. Passwords must be between 7 and 12 characters long and must consist of a combination of numbers and letters. There must be at least 2 numbers/letters in each password (eg 11RTYUI, 123D4F56M, ZZZ88GG5NNW2). Passwords that include words that appear in a ‘bad’ password table held on CHIEF will be rejected.

You must change your password at least once a month. If the password has not been changed for a month CHIEF will force you to change password the next time you log onto the system. If you forget your password you must contact the Technical Team for a new one.

You are allowed three attempts to enter your password when signing on after which you will be ‘locked out’ of the system. CHIEF will advise you that this has happened and you should contact your Technical Team to be reinstated.

Care of badges and passwords

It is vital that badge and password details are not disclosed. They are to be regarded as data security and treated accordingly. If you suspect that a badge or password has become known to an unauthorised person, inform the Technical Team immediately.

All actions dealt with by CHIEF can be traced back to the individual who performed them. You are accountable as such and should ensure that only you use your password.

Remember to log off when not in use.