Guidance

Check if you can pay a reduced amount of Customs Duty

If you're a UK-based business, you may be able to pay no Customs Duty or a reduced amount of duty for goods you bring or receive into the UK, depending on what they are and what you do with them.

Once you have the right commodity code the trade tariff will show you the rate of duty or import VAT for the goods you’re bringing in. This will depend on what they are and where they’re from.

Depending on what you do with your goods, you may also be able to reduce the amount of Customs Duty you pay.

Goods covered by a preference agreement

If there is a preference agreement with the country you’re importing from, you may be able to reduce the duties on your goods.

Re-importing goods you’ve exported before

If your goods were in free circulation before you exported them, you may not need to pay the full rate of duty when you re-import them either:

Importing goods to process or repair them

When you import goods for processing or repair and then put them into free circulation you may be able to pay the rate of duty based on either:

  • the goods at the time they were declared
  • the goods when they are put into free circulation

Importing goods temporarily

You can reduce or pay no duty if you temporarily import goods such as:

  • samples
  • professional equipment
  • items for auction
  • exhibition goods
  • demonstration goods

As long as you do not alter the goods while they’re within the UK, using temporary admission should mean you will not have to pay duty or import VAT.

Educational and cultural goods

You can claim relief from duty on:

Medical or scientific goods

You can claim relief from duty on:

Printed and promotional goods

You can claim relief from duty on printed goods if they’re:

You can claim relief from duty on goods used for the promotion of trade if they’re:

Goods for industrial or commercial research

You can claim relief from customs duty, import VAT and in some cases excise duty on goods imported for testing to find out their composition, quality or other characteristics for information, or for industrial or commercial research.

Goods put to a specific use

You can claim relief from duty on goods that are identified in the trade tariff as being eligible for end-use relief such as:

  • shipwork goods
  • helicopters, aeroplanes and other aircraft for civil use
  • hydrocarbon oil
  • marine propulsion engines
  • military equipment
  • fish
  • cheese
  • casein (used in the cheese industry)

Sea produce

You can claim relief from duty on sea produce or goods produced or manufactured at sea, if brought direct to the UK.

Moving your business to the UK

You can claim relief from duty on capital goods, for example machinery and tools, when you move your business to the UK.

Goods used for funerals and memorials

You can claim relief from duty on materials for the construction, upkeep or ornamentation of memorials to, or cemeteries for, war victims.

Getting goods by post

When you get goods by post you can claim relief from duty on:

Goods for charity or supporting people with disabilities

If you’re a charitable organisation you can claim relief from duty on goods for:

If you have a disability or you’re an organisation that supports people with disabilities you can claim relief on goods to:

Goods for personal use

You can claim relief from duty on:

Delaying Customs Duty and import VAT

As well as reducing the duty you need to pay, you may be able to delay Customs Duty and import VAT.

Published 16 September 2019
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. First published.

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

    Follow these steps 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:

  2. 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.

    1. Get an EORI number

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

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

  4. 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
  5. Step 4 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.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  6. and 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.

    1. Work out the value of your goods for customs
  7. Step 5 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').

    1. Find out if you can claim a preferential rate of duty

    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.

    1. You are currently viewing: Find out if you can pay a lower rate of duty
    2. Find out if you can delay paying duty
  8. Step 6 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  9. Step 7 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  10. Step 8 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
  11. Step 9 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).

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

  13. Step 11 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.