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HMRC internal manual


HM Revenue & Customs
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Background information and policy objectives: payment of import VAT

VAT is payable at the time of importation, that is when the customs debt becomes due. Except when goods are entered to one of the following suspensive arrangements in which case customs duty and/or import VAT become due only if the goods are subsequently removed to free circulation in the UK.

The suspensive arrangements are:

  • IPR-Suspension
  • Temporary Importation with total relief from customs duties
  • Customs warehousing
  • Isle of Man Free Zones
  • External or internal transit - (although internal transit is not a customs suspensive procedure it is included here as import VAT may become due if the goods are subsequently removed to free circulation)
  • Goods admitted into territorial waters under end use relief in order to be incorporated into offshore drilling or production platforms for the purposes of the construction, repair, maintenance, conversion or fitting out of such platforms, or to link such drilling or production platforms to the mainland of the UK or for the fuelling and provision of drilling or production platforms. This covers equipping offshore fixed drilling or production platforms within sub-heading 8430 49 and floating or submersible drilling or production platforms of tariff sub-heading 8905 20 irrespective of whether the fixed or floating platforms are located within or outside territorial waters and tubes, pipes, cables and connection pieces linking drilling or production platforms to the mainland.

Payment can be deferred if the importer or his agent are approved for duty deferment.