Guidance

Giftware, jewellery and tableware: international trade regulations

General guidelines, legal requirements and tariffs for importing or exporting any gifts, jewellery or tableware.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This detailed guidance was originally archived on 27 June 2014.

Introduction

If you are an exporter or importer then this section tells you about export licences and certificates, money-laundering regulations and jewellery scams and how to research an export country before trading.

Importers can find out how to classify goods and what the tariffs, licences and intellectual property rights are for this sector.

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing our online UK Trade Tariff tool.

Export regulations in the jewellery, giftware and tableware sector

Regulations, charges or other restrictions may apply to giftware, jewellery and tableware exports as they leave the UK and when they arrive at their destination country. It is important that you research both sides of the transaction.

For further information, see the guides on exporting your goods from the EU to a third country and dispatching your goods within the EU.

First, you need to classify your goods. Using standardised classification codes makes it easier to check if any restrictions or charges apply. You can use the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom (the Tariff) to classify your goods.

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing the online UK Trade Tariff tool.

Remember that in general it is much simpler to trade with other EU countries than to countries outside the EU. This is because the goods are in free circulation and have already cleared customs. The EU is a single market and the UK is in a customs union so you can sell to other EU countries without restriction (although some local charges may still apply).

Export licensing and certification

There are specific regulations that exporters of jewellery need to comply with to protect their business. These relate to the Kimberley Process (for diamonds), money laundering, hallmarking, jewellery scams and packaging and labelling.

Kimberley Process Certificates

The Kimberley Process has been designed to halt the trade of ‘conflict diamonds’ - diamonds used to finance violent conflict. This process applies only as a piece of legislation within the 123 countries who are signatories to the 2006 agreement but it is good practice for diamond exporters to adhere to the provisions described for any overseas sales.

For sales of half-cut diamonds, cut diamonds and finished jewellery containing diamonds, the framework of the Kimberley Process is extended through a self-regulatory system, which was introduced by the World Diamond Council and supported by key industry bodies such as the British Jewellers’ Association (BJA). Under this system, sellers of manufactured diamond jewellery or cut or polished diamonds give a warranty to confirm that their diamonds have originated from legitimate sources. Buyers of these products in virtually all key international markets are encouraged only to buy products covered by such warranty declarations. 99% of all traded diamonds now conform to Kimberley provisions.

Hallmarking

Many countries require jewellery and other products made from or containing precious metals to be tested, hallmarked or otherwise stamped before retail sale. In some countries this can take place at the point of importation and can form part of the import process while other countries have agreements whereby UK hallmarks are accepted. Exporters should check this requirement prior to undertaking any overseas orders.

Your destination country may have its own safety or quality standards that your products must satisfy - for instance, guarantees that children’s jewellery does not contain toxic metals. You must check local requirements prior to fulfilling orders.

US money laundering regulations

US businesses purchasing more than $50,000 worth of jewellery (including unfinished precious stones and metals) are required to have anti-money laundering procedures in place. This does not apply to foreign dealers who ship products into the US without conducting further business activity there, who just advertise locally or who attend a trade show without trading over this amount.

The requirements should not present serious problems to most responsible exporters but you can minimise any risk of delay or lost sales by preparing in advance. Ensure your contact information is clearly shown on all quotations, sales letters, proforma invoices, and provide your company registration and VAT numbers and US IRS number if applicable.

Check existing clients have all the information they need about your business so they can satisfy themselves and let them know if you comply with anti-money laundering legislation in other countries (such as the UK). You may also be asked to provide information about your products and their origin.

See the guide on how to label and package goods being shipped out of the UK

Jewellery sector scams

To avoid fraud you should be cautious when selling to overseas customers via email or online auction sites. Be wary about requests for credit.

Online fraudsters may build up trust by making advance-payment jewellery purchases over a number of years before requesting credit for a larger order and then disappearing with the goods.

Export licences

An export licence is also required in order to export specified goods with military uses or so-called Dual-Use goods (which are products with both civilian and military use).

The list of goods requiring a licence does not include any giftware, jewellery and tableware products. However, you may require an export licence for goods with a potential military use, such as antique or replica firearms.

If you are interested in exporting to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), you should be aware that there is an arms embargo in place which includes ‘luxury goods’. See the section on the arms embargo on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

To find out more about strategic export controls see Export Control Organisation.

Read the guide on avoiding crime and fraud in international trade.

Researching your export destination in the giftware, jewellery and tableware sector

You should thoroughly research your export destination country when planning to export.

There are a number of issues that you ought to consider. As a starting point you may wish to seek advice from UK Trade & Investment. Find your local international trade team on the UK Trade & Investment website.

There are also various ways that you can research a potential export destination. These include trade associations.

Find advice on opportunities for UK exporters in the giftware, jewellery & tableware sector on the UKTI website.

Find export information on the British Chambers of Commerce website.

Find the latest global trade news on the Link2Globaltrade website.

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing our online UK Trade Tariff tool.

You should also consider product safety and other technical standards in your export market. Your goods may need to be adapted to comply with these. Rules in your export market may be less or more strict than in the UK.

For a general guide to market information on sectors and countries see researching and entering overseas markets.

Using the Integrated Tariff

A common customs tariff is charged by all EU countries on goods imported from outside the EU. Details of specific tariffs are contained in the Integrated Tariff of the UK.

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing our online UK Trade Tariff tool.

The Tariff is used to determine the specific classification code of your goods and to find out:

  • if any licensing requirements apply
  • the rates of duty and VAT that apply
  • if there are additional charges, such as anti-dumping duties
  • if any reductions in duty may be available to you

Preferential rates of duty

The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) allows products from a wide range of (mainly developed) countries to be imported in the EU at a reduced or zero rate of duty.

You can read Notice 830 about the GSP on the HMRC website.

The European Community has a number of other preferential trade agreements with third countries, in which goods may attract preferential rates of duty.

Find out if your goods qualify for a preferential rate of duty and meet the appropriate rules of origin from the HMRC website.

Intrastat

If you are VAT registered and the goods you acquire from or supply to VAT registered businesses in other EU countries reach the Intrastat exemption threshold for the year, you must submit monthly supplementary declarations to HMRC.

Intrastat is the method of collecting information and producing statistics on goods traded between EU member states. Intrastat thresholds are reviewed annually. The thresholds are £1.2 million for Arrivals and £250,000 for Dispatches.

See Intrastat - reporting the value and volume of intra-EU trade. Intrastat is only applicable to VAT-registered traders.

Intellectual property (IP)

You should ensure that imported goods do not breach the IP rights of other businesses, eg you should watch out for counterfeit goods, as well as for design infringements. Infringing goods can be seized and destroyed by HMRC. You can ask HMRC to check for imported counterfeit versions of your goods. Read how HMRC can help protect your IP rights on the HMRC website.

Import regulations in the giftware, jewellery and tableware sector

As the EU is a customs union you can buy goods from other member countries without restrictions - although VAT and excise duty can still apply. For more information, see trading in the EU.

If you import from outside the EU you may have to comply with import licensing requirements and with common customs tariffs that apply across the EU. For more information see importing your goods from outside the EU.

Import licences

Import restrictions can be product-specific or trade-specific. Many products are subject to product-specific standards and need to be supported by applicable certificates, product-specific licences and documentation.

Other regulations may impose permanent or ad hoc quantity restrictions, quotas and/or anti-dumping duties. For more information, see anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

For help identifying whether you require an import licence see Import and export licences 

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing our online UK Trade Tariff tool.

Goods imported to the UK must comply with domestic business standards, including product safety, hallmarking, nickel regulations and ceramic regulations. Find out which regulations and licences apply to the giftware, jewellery and tableware area in the UK in the guide on Household goods, furniture and furnishings: international trade regulations.

Sources of help and support in the giftware, jewellery and tableware sector

As an importer or exporter in the giftware, jewellery and tableware sector you can turn to a range of bodies for help and information.

The government organisation with primary responsibility for providing trade support to UK exporters is UK Trade & Investment. UKTI has an impartial global presence in countries throughout the world and helps businesses realise their international potential through knowledge transfer and ongoing partnership support. You can find information on the services available to exporters on the UKTI website.

You can also find details of your local trade team using a postcode search on the UKTI website.

Government sources of help and information

In addition to UKTI there is information about importing and exporting on the HMRC website

Giftware, jewellery and tableware sector trade associations and other bodies

You can find a list of bodies providing business support to the giftware, jewellery and tableware sector on the UKTI website.

Further information

HMRC Tariff Classification Service enquiry line

Telephone: 01702 366 077

UK Trade & Investment enquiry line

Telephone: 020 7215 8000

Goods classification advice on the HMRC website

International trade team search on the UKTI website

Trade data information on the uktradeinfo website

Export restriction checker on the BIS Goods Checker website (registration required)

Notice 830 about the GSP on the HMRC website

International trade team search on the UKTI website

Giftware, jewellery and tableware sector overview on the UKTI website

EU-wide customs tariffs guidance on the HMRC website

Published 1 August 2012
Last updated 13 June 2013 + show all updates
  1. Fixing references to specialist guides
  2. First published.