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Import goods into the UK: step by step in 13 Steps.

A guide to how to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay and whether you need to get a licence or certificate.

Step 1: Check if you need to follow this process.

Follow the steps below if you're moving goods permanently to:

  • England, Wales or Scotland (Great Britain) from a country outside the UK

  • Northern Ireland from a country outside the UK and the EU

What you need to do is different if you are:

Step 2: Get your business ready to import.

You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland, you may need one that starts with XI.

There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

Step 3: Check the business sending you the goods can export to the UK.

The business sending you the goods may need:

  • To make an export declaration in their country

  • Licences or certificates to send goods to the UK

Check whoever is sending the goods is able to export them from their country.

Step 4: Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself.

Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent.

Step 5: Find out the commodity code for your goods

You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration.

Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.

Step 6: Work out the value your goods.

When you make your import declaration, you’ll need to include the value of your goods - this helps work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay.

Step 7: Find out if you can delay or reduce your duty payment.

If the UK has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from, you may be able to pay less duty or no duty on the goods (known as a 'preferential rate').

You may also be able to delay or reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are from and what you plan to do with them.

Step 8: Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods.

There are special rules, and you may need to get licences or certificates if you are importing specific goods.

Step 9: Check the labeling, marking and marketing rules.

Step 10: Get your goods through customs.

If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border.

Step 11: Claim a VAT refund.

If you're VAT registered, you can claim back any VAT you paid on the goods you've imported. You’ll need your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

Step 12: If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods, find out how to claim a refund on import duties or make a claim for rejected imports.

Step 13: Keep invoices and records.

You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork, including your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

If you imported controlled goods, for example firearms, keep any paperwork that shows who owns them.



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