Guidance

Check if you can claim a preferential rate of duty

If you import or export using a preference agreement or the Generalised Scheme of Preference, you may be able to reduce the duties on your goods.

The rate of duty payable depends on:

  • the type of goods
  • if you’re importing or exporting
  • where the goods are deemed to have come from - the ‘originating’ country and their destination

To claim a preference, you must:

  1. Check there’s an agreement in place.

  2. Check your goods are covered by the agreement.

  3. Check the goods meet the rules of origin.

  4. Include the information on your declaration.

Check if there’s an agreement

You must check if the country you’re trading with has an agreement.

You can find information about preference agreements that the UK has with other countries and groups of countries.

You can also check if the country you’re trading with is covered by the Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Check if your goods are covered by the agreement

You will need to classify your goods and confirm these are included in the agreement.

Check your goods meet the rules of origin

To show that your goods have come from the originating country, the goods must meet the criteria contained in the rules of origin.

You’ll need to check if your goods meet the rules of origin, and if they do, get proof of origin.

Information to include on your import or export declaration

Find out how to complete a declaration if you’re using the:

There’s a different way to declare your goods if you’re exporting goods by post.

If you’re planning on claiming preference and using a customs warehouse you should check what else you need to do.

Retrospective claims

If you paid the full Customs Duty and were then able to get valid proof of origin, you may be able to apply for a repayment or remission of the duty after you’ve imported the goods.

Records you must keep

If you’ve made an origin declaration (or given written statements as a producer or supplier) you must keep a copy of the:

  • declaration or statement
  • supporting documents including details of the:
    • processes carried out on originating goods or materials
    • purchase, cost, value and payment for the goods
    • originating status of the purchase, cost, value and payment for all materials

You must keep these records for at least 4 years, as HMRC may carry out checks on your goods.

If the checks are done before the goods are cleared for import, we may ask you for a security before releasing the goods.

Published 1 December 2020
Last updated 23 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Additional information about retrospective claims, exporting goods by post and using a customs warehouse.

  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. You are currently viewing: 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. 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.