Basics of importing into the UK and EU

Site updated regularly - last updated 24th July 2017

Importing in to the UK

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  • Free Circulation
  • When does duty and / or VAT apply?
  • Can I Customs clear my own goods?
  • Terms of Sale/Shipping
  • The Freight Forwarder that has been used to ship my goods has advised me that they can Customs clear my goods. Do I have to use them?
  • Related Links



  • If you are new to Imports, the following outlines some key information that will apply to you.

    Please take a few moments to read through the information below before deciding to order / ship any goods into the UK. ukimports

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    Free circulation

    Goods which manufactured in the EC, or that have been Customs cleared in one of the EC member countries, can move from between fellow member EC Countries freely or without the need for further Customs Clearance... its what's known in the Freight Forwarding world as 'in Free Circulation'.

    Please note: The local Customs authority, at the port of arrival, may ask you to provide documentary evidence to prove the country of origin of your goods, or proof of Customs Clearance. Ensure that you have this documentary evidence to hand or that it accompanies the goods during transit across the member countries borders

    Click here to view a full list of current EU member countries. ukimports

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    When does duty and / or VAT apply?

    Although each EC member Country applies the same rules to the Importing and Exporting of goods, the rate of tax that each country applies, varies (the UK's Standard tax (VAT) rate is currently 20.0%).


    The method by which your goods arrive into the UK, also affects when import duty and VAT is applied. If your goods arrive via Airfreight, Seafreight or Roadfeight, then the 'Low Value' limit is GB£ 18.00.

     

    This should not be confused with the 'Low Value' DUTY limit for Postal, Parcel and Courier shipments. On the 8th December 2009, the EU changed the 'Low Value' limit on these, from GB£ 105.00 up to GB£ 135.00, (this came in effect, as of the 1st January 2010). This means that any goods valued under GB£ 135.00 is classed as 'Low Value goods', and will not have any duty levied on them.

     

    Please note. This is for import duty only. VAT will still apply on goods valued over GB£ 18.00.

     

    This 'Low Value' rate is also different for 'Gifts' received from outside the EU, where the limit is now set at GB£ 40.00 (from GB£ 36.00).

     

    Any goods valued over these amounts is liable to individual Customs clearance, and if applicable, Import duty and / or VAT payable. The other thing to note, is that UK Customs only collect duty that exceeds GB£ 9.00.

    Import Duty applies on most products arriving into the EU from any third world country (non-EU country). The rate of duty varies, depending on the commodity / product.

    See our Taric Help page for more details. ukimports

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    Can I Customs clear my own goods?

    The answer is 'Yes, you can, but we do not recommend it.

    This is not because we offer the service of Customs clearance, but more because it has to be done correctly, otherwise you could pay more duty and/or VAT than is necessary. By using a Customs Broker, you will benefit from their experience, which could actually save you money, by not only making sure you pay the correct amount of duty and / or VAT, but also to ensure quick clearance, minimising any storage charges. ukimports

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    Terms of Sale/Shipping

    This doesn't sound that important, apart from when you are ordering your goods, but you must ensure that you are aware of what effect this has on the amount of Import duty and / or VAT that could be payable, once you goods arrive into the UK. To find out more, see our 'Inco-Terms' page. ukimports

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    The Freight Forwarder that has been used to ship my goods has advised me that they can Customs clear my goods. Do I have to use them?

    The simple answer is No! As with any one company offering a service, there is about a hundred other companies that can offer the same, or similar service at varying prices. The key is to call a couple of clearing agents and use whoever sounds like they know what they are talking about, that are not going to charge you an arm and a leg. ukimports

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    - Click here to read more about how to instruct customs clearing agent

    - Click here to read about what other charges you should expect to pay and other Frequently Asked Questions

     

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    Related Links


  • How to calculate Duty/VAT
  • Frequently Asked Questions
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