Guidance

Check when you’ll need to account for import VAT in a no-deal Brexit

If you're a VAT-registered business find out when you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return for goods brought into the UK in a no-deal Brexit.

Stay up to date

The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

Sign up for email alerts to get the latest information.

If your business is registered for VAT in the UK you’ll be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return. This means you will pay import VAT on your VAT Return instead of when the goods arrive at the UK border.

This will let your business:

  • maintain cash flow on goods you bring in from the EU
  • pay import VAT later on goods you bring in from non-EU countries

If you’re not VAT-registered in the UK you will not be able to account for import VAT in this way, you’ll need to pay import VAT at the time you import the goods.

You’ll need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB when you import the goods into the UK.

When you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return

You can account for import VAT on your VAT Return if:

  • the goods you import are for use in your business
  • your VAT registration number is shown on your customs declaration, or EORI number if you’re using the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system

The goods can be imported from anywhere in the world.

You can account for import VAT when the goods enter the UK, or when they’re released into free circulation through one of the following customs special procedures:

  • customs warehousing
  • inward processing
  • temporary admission
  • end use
  • outward processing

If you use transitional simplified procedures you must account for import VAT on your VAT Return.

Postal imports worth £135 or less

If you import goods for use in your business and the seller sends them as a parcel in the post, you will not be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return if the goods are worth £135 or less.

You should pay the import VAT up front and the overseas seller of the goods must account for the import VAT. You should use the invoice to reclaim the import VAT on your next VAT Return.

Goods already in transit before Brexit

You must continue to treat goods already in transit from the EU as acquisitions and account for VAT on the return for the period in which the acquisition takes place.

If you’re bringing goods into the UK under customs freight simplified procedures and you’ve completed your simplified frontier declaration before Brexit, you will not be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return even if you complete your supplementary declaration after this time.

If you have an agent

You can authorise your agent to account for import VAT on your VAT Return.

To make customs declarations for you and account for import VAT on your VAT Return, your agent should:

  • use your VAT registration number or EORI number
  • have your agreement to account for import VAT on your VAT Return

Agents must not use their own VAT registration number.

How to account for import VAT

If you use software or the CHIEF system to declare your customs duties, you’ll need to:

  • input your EORI number (which includes your VAT registration number) into either registered consignee (SAD box 44h) or consignee (SAD box 8)
  • enter ‘G’ as the method of payment

If you use the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) to declare your customs duties you need to enter your VAT registration number at header level in data element 3/40.

VAT will be recorded against your EORI and will be at declaration level only.

You can still account for import VAT on your VAT Return, even if you cannot confirm the customs value of the goods that you import. You should declare the highest value for VAT and reclaim any eligible input tax under the normal rules.

VAT Notice 252 has more information on the customs value of goods.

If you do not account for import VAT on your VAT Return

If you choose not to account for import VAT on your VAT Return, you’ll need to wait 2 months after paying the import VAT before you can reclaim it.

You will also have to declare import VAT when the goods arrive in the UK, or enter free circulation, if you use:

  • CHIEF to make declarations, you could select to pay or secure the import VAT by declaring the method of payment on the VAT tax line
  • CDS to make declarations, you would not enter your VAT registration number at header level in data element 3/40

What you need to do next

Once you’ve imported the goods, you’ll need to account for import VAT when you complete your VAT Return.

Published 6 March 2019
Last updated 16 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. Content for paying import VAT has been moved to "How to account for import VAT on your VAT Return in a no-deal Brexit"
  2. First published.
  1. Step 1 Make sure your business has an EORI number that starts with GB

    You’ll need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB to continue importing goods.

    1. Get an EORI number
  2. Step 2 Decide who will make the import declarations

  3. Step 3 Apply to make importing easier

    You can apply to use 'transitional simplified procedures' to reduce the amount of information you need to give at the border.

    1. Register for transitional simplified procedures
    2. Decide what other customs procedures you could use

    You may also be able to use the Common Transit Convention (CTC) to simplify how your goods pass through customs and when you pay customs duties.

    1. Find out if you can use CTC
  4. and Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly

    Set up a duty deferment account if you want to be able to make one payment of customs duties a month instead of paying for individual shipments.

    You must set one up if you plan to use transitional simplified procedures.

    1. Set up a duty deferment account
  5. Step 4 Check the rate of tax and duty you’ll need to pay

    You’ll need to pay customs duties and VAT on all imports.

    1. Find out the rate of customs on imports after Brexit
    2. You are currently viewing: Check when you'll need to account for and pay VAT

    You’ll also need to pay excise duties if you’re importing alcohol, tobacco or biofuels.

    1. Find out the rate of excise duty on imports
  6. Step 5 Check what you need to do for the type of goods you import

    Depending on what you're importing, there might be other things you'll need to do to get your business ready.

    For example, you might need to change the labelling on your goods, apply for licences, or find an approved UK border inspection post where your goods can enter the UK.

    1. Check what you need to do for the type of goods you import
  7. Step 6 Get help and support