Guidance

Check when you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return from 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, if you're a UK VAT-registered business find out when you can, or need to, account for import VAT on your VAT Return (also called postponed VAT accounting).

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

From 1 January 2021, if your business is registered for VAT in the UK, you’ll be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world.

This means you’ll declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT Return, rather than having to pay it upfront and recover it later.

The normal rules about what VAT can be reclaimed as input tax will apply.

When you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return

You do not need to be authorised to account for import VAT on your VAT Return and can start doing so from 1 January 2021. You can account for import VAT if:

  • the goods you import are for use in your business
  • you include your EORI number, which starts ‘GB’ on your customs declaration
  • you include your VAT registration number on your customs declaration, where needed

If you initially declare goods into a customs special procedure, you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return when you submit the declaration that releases those goods into free circulation from the following special procedures:

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

You can account for import VAT on your VAT Return when you release excise goods for use in the UK - also known as ‘released for home consumption’. This includes when goods are released from an excise warehouse after being in duty suspense since the point of import.

When you cannot account for import VAT on your VAT Return

You will not be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return if you are authorised to use simplified declarations for imports and you complete your simplified frontier declaration before 1 January 2021.

This will be the case even if you complete your supplementary declaration after this date.

When you must account for import VAT on your VAT Return

If you’re eligible to defer submitting your supplementary declarations for up to 6 months, you must account for import VAT on your VAT Return.

To complete your VAT Return, you’ll need to use the record of imported goods that you make for customs purposes.

If you act on behalf of someone else

If you’ve been authorised to act on behalf of your client, you must use their EORI number or VAT registration number on the customs declaration.

If you import goods in consignments not exceeding £135 in value

Further guidance will be provided on the VAT treatment of goods in consignments not exceeding £135 in value in a later update.

After the goods have been imported

You’ll need to account for import VAT when you complete your VAT Return.

Published 27 July 2020
Last updated 24 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added Welsh translation.

  2. First published.