Overview

You can bring some goods from abroad without having to pay UK tax or ‘duty’ (customs charges), as long as they’re for your own use.

If you’re coming:

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. You and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.

You must tell customs about (‘declare’) any other goods when you arrive at the UK border, as well as anything that’s banned or restricted in the UK. If you owe any duty or tax, you’ll usually have to pay it immediately.

Your goods and any vehicle you use to transport them may be seized if you break the rules. You may also be fined or prosecuted.

You can report someone for breaking the rules to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

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

  2. Step 2 Register your business for importing

    1. Get an EORI number
    2. Check if you need to register for VAT

    You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that import goods regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. Step 3 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.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
    2. Find out what you'll need to do if you make the customs declaration yourself
  4. Step 4 Classify your goods

    You must find the right commodity code to classify the goods you're importing. This will tell you the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

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

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  5. and Find out if you can delay or reduce your duty payment

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

    1. Find out if you can pay a lower rate of duty
    2. Find out if you can delay paying duty
  6. Step 5 Value your goods

    How much VAT and duty you pay depends on the value of your goods and the rate of duty you need to pay.

    1. Work out the value of your goods for customs
  7. Step 6 Get a licence or certificate if you need one

    You might need to get a licence or certificate if you're importing things like plant or animal products, high-risk food or feed, medicines, textiles, chemicals or firearms.

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

    1. Find out if you need a licence or certificate for the goods
  8. Step 7 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.

    1. Make an import declaration yourself and get your goods cleared by UK customs

    You'll then be told how much VAT and duty to pay.

    You’ll also be sent an Import VAT Certificate (C79) in the post as proof you have paid.

  9. Step 8 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 C79.

    1. Find out how to claim a VAT refund
  10. Step 9 If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods

  11. Step 10 Keep invoices and records

    You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork, including your C79.

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