Guidance

Claim relief on goods imported then supplied to an EU member state

Find out when you can claim Onward Supply Relief and Inward Processing Relief.

You can get relief from duty on goods that are imported from outside the UK or EU, processed or repaired in the UK or EU and then re-exported, this is known as inward processing.

You do not have to pay import VAT or duty until your imported goods are declared into free circulation in the UK or EU.

Find out how to get authorised for inward processing.

Onward Supply Relief

You must inform HMRC about any goods or service that you import, and pay any VAT or other duties that are due.

If you import goods to forward them on to an EU member state, you can claim VAT relief on them. The VAT is then accounted for in the country of destination. This is known as Onward Supply Relief (OSR).

OSR involves putting the goods into free circulation in the UK. This is done by paying any applicable Customs Duty in the UK, and using OSR to claim relief from the immediate payment of import VAT. VAT is then accounted for by the recipient of the goods in the final destination country.

You can use OSR if you:

  • are VAT registered in the UK
  • regularly import goods
  • are an agent registered for VAT in the UK and you have been appointed to act on behalf of an importer based in another country, who is not registered for VAT in the UK

An agent not fulfilling the conditions and acting purely as the freight forwarder would not meet the conditions of OSR. Such traders should use an alternative system such as (but not restricted to) external community transit.

External community transit procedure

If you import goods from outside the UK or EU to forward them to an EU member state, you may be able to use either OSR or the external community transit procedures, also known as ‘T1’.

If you use OSR, Customs Duty is payable in the UK, and VAT is accounted for in the country of destination. If you use T1, both duty and VAT are payable in the final destination country.

Conditions for claiming OSR

To claim OSR you must be a trader registered for VAT in the UK, who is making a zero-rated supply of goods to someone registered for VAT in an EU member state.

The goods you despatch to an EU member state must be exactly the same as the goods you imported. You cannot process or modify them in any way.

You must send the goods to an EU member state within one month of the date you imported them, in this instance, the date when the goods entered free circulation. If you cannot meet this deadline you can apply for an extension to the National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU).

You must:

  • include the goods on your EU sales lists
  • record the EU trade figures on your VAT Returns

How to claim OSR

To claim OSR, complete box 44 of form C88, the import SAD (Single Administrative Document) with these details:

  • the expected place and date of onward consignment
  • if known, the identity of the onward transport, ship, aircraft or vehicle
  • the name, address and VAT registration number of whoever you’re sending the goods to

You must also enter the Customs Procedure Code (CPC) in box 37 of the import SAD to declare that you:

  • meet the conditions for OSR
  • will produce commercial evidence that the goods have been supplied to an EU member state if HMRC asks for it
  • will pay on demand any import charges due if the conditions for OSR are not met

Customs Procedure Codes

OSR can be claimed for:

  • direct imports from third countries - the main use for the relief - using CPC 42 00 00
  • returned goods using CPC 61 23 04
  • imports from third territories, for example, the Channel Islands for free circulation using CPC 49 00 70

OSR may also be claimed by UK VAT-registered traders removing their goods from:

  • inward processing (suspension) arrangements using CPC 42 51 00
  • temporary importation arrangements using CPC 42 53 00
  • free zones using CPC 42 78 00
  • customs warehousing using CPC 42 71 00

Accounting for OSR in your records

To account for the goods in your records, you must raise a tax invoice to whoever you’re supplying the goods to. This transaction must be recorded on your EC Sales Lists.

A summary of transactions must be recorded as EU trade figures on your VAT Return. If required to do so, you must also complete Intrastat Supplementary Declarations.

Inward Processing Relief

Under Inward Processing Relief (IPR) you can get relief from duty on goods that are imported from outside the UK or EU, processed in the UK or EU and then re-exported. You can only get IPR if the trade does not harm those who produce similar goods in the UK or EU. Processing can mean anything from repacking or sorting to the most complicated manufacturing.

You do not have to pay import VAT under IPR. It only becomes due if the imported goods are diverted to free circulation in the UK or EU. If this happens, import VAT is based on the value of the goods being diverted, including import duty, when they first entered the UK or EU for processing. The rate used will be the rate that applies in the member state where the goods are going, on the date that the diversion takes place.

Authorisation

You do not have to be registered for VAT, but you do have to be authorised if you want to import or receive goods under IPR. Authorisations are issued to whoever processes the goods, or arranges for them to be processed on their behalf. If you sub-contract processing, the sub-contractor must hold their own authorisation, or be named on your authorisation.

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 24 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for the National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU) have been updated.

  2. Information added to the OSR section for the conditions of a 'freight forwarder'.

  3. The phone number and email address for the National Import Reliefs Unit has been updated.

  4. First published.