How to make an import declaration and get goods through the UK border.
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.
Most businesses that import goods hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and clear their goods through UK customs.
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.
You'll use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to make a declaration. You'll need to both:
- apply for access to CHIEF
- buy commercial software that can submit declarations through CHIEF
You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that import goods regularly.
and Register to import goods with restrictions
You need to register as an importer if you import things like plant or animal products, high-risk food or feed, medicines, textiles, chemicals or firearms.
- PEACH to import fresh produce, plants or plant products
- eDomero to import ‘prohibited’ plants or plant products
- the Fish Health Inspectorate to import live fish or shellfish
- the Forestry Commission to import wood or wood products
- the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to import human medicines
- Veterinary Medicines Directorate to import veterinary medicines
- the European Chemicals Agency (under the REACH regulations) to import chemicals
- the Department for International Trade to import controlled goods
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.
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.
- Find an inspection point for animals and animal products
- Find an inspection point for plants, plant products, seeds and wood
- Find an inspection point for high risk food and feed that is not of animal origin
- 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.
Step 5 Submit the import declaration
Step 6 Pay VAT and duty
HMRC will tell you how much to pay after you submit the declaration.
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.