Guidance

Check how to pay import VAT

If you’re importing goods from outside the EU, you can pay import VAT and any duties that are due in a number of ways.

Not paying at the time goods enter the UK

If you have a duty deferment approval, you’ll be able to delay payment of import VAT and duties until an agreed future date.

This means:

  • you delay paying the charges for an average of 30 days
  • you do not have to pay immediately each time you want to clear your goods
  • HMRC can normally clear your goods more quickly because they do not have to handle payments for each transaction

You’ll be able to get copies of your duty deferment statements online.

If you’re registered for UK VAT you’ll get a C79 import VAT certificate which you’ll need to claim import VAT as input tax on your VAT Return.

Paying at the time goods enter the UK

You can use the flexible accounting system when your goods move across the border if:

  • you want to pay by cash, card, cheque or bank transfer
  • you’re a Direct Trader Input (DTI) agent (this means you process import entries through a computer terminal linked to Custom Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF)

You use the account in a similar way to a bank current account, with the exception that there are no charges for using the account, no overdraft facility and no interest.

If you’re registered for UK VAT you’ll get a C79 import VAT certificate which you’ll need to claim import VAT as input tax on your VAT Return.

Published 1 March 2019
  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    There are several tasks you need to do before you can get goods through customs.

    1. Check the whole process for importing goods from countries outside the EU

    Most businesses that import goods hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and clear their goods through UK customs.

  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making customs declarations

    The business importing the goods and any transporter or customs agent acting on their behalf both need an EORI number.

    1. Get an EORI number

    You'll use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to make a declaration. You'll need to both:

    You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that import goods regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Register to import goods with restrictions

  4. Step 3 Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly

    Set up a duty deferment account if you want to be able to make one payment of customs duties a month instead of paying for individual shipments.

    You must set one up if you use simplified procedures.

    1. Set up a duty deferment account
  5. Step 4 Arrange for the goods to be inspected

    You need to choose a place where the goods can be inspected if you import things like plant or animal products. This needs to happen before they’re allowed through the UK border.

    1. Find an inspection point for animals and animal products
    2. Find an inspection point for plants, plant products, seeds and wood
    3. Find an inspection point for high risk food and feed that is not of animal origin
    4. Find an inspection point for endangered species, or products made from endangered plants or animals

    You need to let the inspection point know when the goods are arriving. You might have to pay a fee for the inspection.

    1. Find out what rules you need to follow to get the goods inspected
  6. Step 5 Submit the import declaration

  7. Step 6 Pay VAT and duty

    HMRC will tell you how much to pay after you submit the declaration.

    1. You are currently viewing: Find out how and when to pay VAT and duty
  8. Step 7 Get the goods released if they're held up at the border

    The goods will be held at the border, for example if:

    • you have not paid the right amount of duty or VAT
    • you do not have the right import licences for the goods or business
    • they did not pass inspection
    • they've been combined with a shipment that has been held up

    If this happens you will be told why.

    1. Contact the National Clearance Hub to get help