Thousands of operators risk losing the ability to import goods unless they move to the UK’s new customs system now, HMRC has warned.

Businesses submitting import declarations must switch to the customs declaration service (CDS) from 1 October when the existing customs handling import and export freight (CHIEF) system closes.

HMRC said firms should check that their customs agents are ready to use the CDS and those without an agent must set themselves up to make their own declarations.

It said that many companies are already using the CDS, but around 3,500 businesses have yet to make the move.

HMRC added that it can take several weeks to be fully set up, so those waiting to register risk being unable to import goods from October.

Julie Etheridge, HMRC director of programme and operational delivery for borders and trade, said: “There are now only two months left until businesses must use customs declaration service for imports. Businesses need to move now or risk being unable to bring their goods into the UK.

“Registering takes time so businesses should start moving to the customs declaration service to ensure a smooth transition and avoid disruption to their business.”

Declarants are being contacted by phone and email to inform them of the steps they must take and further information is available on GOV.UK.

CHIEF will close for export declaration on 31 March 2023, with operators being required to use the CDS to send goods out of the UK.