Guidance

Bringing merchandise from or to the UK in baggage or small motor vehicle, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

If you bring goods into or take goods out of the UK in your baggage or a small motor vehicle, and you intend to use them for business, you must declare your goods and pay import duty and VAT before you move them across the border.

This guidance does not apply to importing or exporting goods between Ireland-Northern Ireland. Sign up for EU Exit email alerts to find out when we publish new guidance about this.

Merchandise in baggage

‘Merchandise in baggage’ are commercial goods (for trade or business use) where:

  • a commercial transport operator does not carry them for you
  • you’ve travelled to or from the UK carrying goods in your baggage
  • you’ve travelled to or from the UK carrying goods in a small motor vehicle that:
    • can carry up to 9 people including the driver
    • weighs 3.5 tonnes or less
  • the goods:
    • are not recorded on the ship, train or aircraft manifest as freight
    • are not for personal use or meant as gifts

Importing

Checklist of things you’ll need to do:

  • apply for a UK EORI number (an EORI number that starts with GB) now if your business does not have one already
  • look up the correct tariff to pay the right duty for your goods
  • check whether your goods are controlled or excise goods
  • check the weight of your goods
  • work out the value of your goods in pounds sterling to pay the right amount of duty and VAT
  • check whether you are entering the UK through a port with a red channel, phone or point
  • decide how you mean to declare your goods to HMRC
  • travel with an entry reference number, download or screenshot of your declaration and payment notification as proof of your customs declaration

Ports without a red channel, phone or point

Ports without a red channel, phone or point include:

  • roll on roll off locations like Dover and Eurotunnel where traders use vehicles to drive onto ferries or trains to transport goods into or out of the UK
  • other ports include the Eurostar terminals at:

    • London St Pancras
    • Ebbsfleet International
    • Ashford International

Ports with a red channel, phone or point

Ports with a red channel, phone or point include all airports as well as:

  • Southampton Ports:
    • Queen Elizabeth 2 Terminal
    • Ocean Terminal
    • City Terminal
    • Mayflower Terminal

Making a declaration

You can declare your commercial goods using other customs declarations procedures and easements such as transitional simplified procedures. But, if you do not want to use these you should use the following processes.

Importing goods below £900 and weighing less than 1,000kg through ports without a red channel, point or phone – including roll on roll off locations

If your goods are not licenced, controlled or excise goods, you’ll be able to declare your goods and pay duty using the simple online service. This service will be available shortly.

Your declaration must have several pieces of information including:

  • your UK EORI number (an EORI number that starts with GB)
  • your name and address
  • the date your goods are scheduled to arrive

If you plan to account for import VAT on your VAT Return then you should make a full declaration.

Importing goods below £900 or weighing less than 1,000kg through ports with a red channel, phone or point – including airports

If your goods are not licenced, controlled or excise goods and you’re arriving from an EU country and a red channel is available, you must make an oral declaration and pay the duty to a Border Force officer. If there’s no red channel, use the red-point phone if you have something to declare.

If you plan to account for import VAT on your VAT Return then you should make a full declaration.

If you’re arriving from a non-EU country there’s no change to current process and procedures if you’re bringing in goods below £900 and weighing less than 1,000kg.

Importing goods above £900, goods weighing more than 1,000kg, or controlled, goods needing a licence or excise goods through all ports and airports

You must submit a full declaration up to 5 working days before you travel to the UK, if you’re carrying goods above £900 or weighing over 1,000kg, or goods that are:

  • excise goods
  • need a licence
  • controlled goods

If you do not have software to make your own declarations, you need to appoint a customs agent to submit a full declaration for you, up to 5 working days before you travel to the UK.

If you choose not to pay duty before your goods arrive, you’ll have to either:

  • pay by the end of the next working day after arrival through your agent
  • pay using a duty deferment account – this allows you to pay your customs duty monthly by Direct Debit, rather than paying each time you clear your goods through customs

After you’ve made a declaration

You’ll be given a reference number or receipt when you submit your declaration. You’ll need to keep a copy of the declaration and payment notification as confirmation of your declaration. Border Force officials may ask you to show this to them.

You may also need to keep this as evidence if you need refunds or want to appeal.

You’ll then be able to move freely across the UK border when you arrive.

Exporting

Checklist of things you’ll need to do:

  • apply for a UK EORI number (an EORI number that starts with GB) now if your business does not have one already
  • work out the value of goods in pounds sterling
  • submit a full customs declaration before arriving at the port of departure for goods:
    • above £900
    • weighing more than 1,000kg
    • classified as controlled
    • licensed goods
  • submit a short online declaration up to 5 working days before arriving at the port of departure in all other cases
  • travel with an entry reference number, download or screenshot of your declaration notification as proof of your customs declaration

Making a declaration

If you’re carrying goods that need a licence, or are controlled goods, you must submit a full declaration up to 5 working days before you travel from the UK.

You may find it simpler to appoint a customs agent to make customs declarations for you.

If your goods need a licence to export you’ll need to present them to a Border Force agent.

Exporting goods below £900 and less than 1,000kg through all ports and airports

If you’re travelling to an EU or non-EU country, with goods that are not controlled or licenced you’ll need to complete a simple declaration before you export (up to 5 working days before you leave the UK).

You’ll be given a reference number or receipt. If asked, you’ll show this to Border Force at the UK border.

You’ll then be able to move freely across the UK border when you arrive.

Exporting goods above £900 , weighing more than 1,000kg, controlled or licenced goods through all ports and airports

If you’re travelling with goods to an EU or non-EU country, you’ll need to complete a full declaration before you travel from the UK.

You may find it simpler to appoint a customs agent to make customs declarations for you.

Check what you need to do if you’re exporting to the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel.

Getting duty and VAT refunds

You may be able to ask for a refund if, after you’ve made your declaration:

  • you do not travel
  • your goods are lost or destroyed before they reach the UK
  • you make a mistake when you calculate your duty

To get a refund, you must apply within:

  • 3 years of making the over payment of Customs Duty or import VAT
  • 12 months for duty you’ve paid on damaged or defective goods
  • 3 years if after making a declaration you did not actually travel

If you’re VAT registered, you must claim import VAT back on your regular VAT Return and fill in the form for refund of Customs Duty.

If you’re not VAT registered, you can claim both import VAT and Customs Duty using the form.

More information

If you’re not already familiar with making full customs declarations you can find out more about trading with the EU if the UK leaves without a deal.

Published 21 March 2019