Import goods into the UK: step by step
How to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay and whether you need to get a licence or certificate.
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:
- moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or from the EU to Northern Ireland
- getting goods through the post
- bringing goods in your luggage for personal use
- bringing goods in your luggage, car or van to use in your business or sell
- bringing in goods temporarily
- bringing goods back into the UK after they were rejected at another country’s border
- moving to the UK with your belongings
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.
There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.
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.
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.
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.
Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.
and Work out the value of 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.
Step 5 Find out if you can reduce your Customs Duty
You may be able to pay less or no Customs Duty if the UK has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from.
You may also be able to reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are and what you plan to do with them.
and Find out if you can delay your Customs Duty
You may be able to delay sending information about goods or paying Customs Duty.
Step 6 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods
There are special rules and you may need to get licences or certificates if you are importing any of the following:
- animals and animal products
- plants and plant products
- high risk food
- veterinary medicines
- human medicine
- controlled drugs
- tissues and cells for human application
- products containing F gas
- precursor chemicals
- hazardous chemicals
- nuclear material
- guns, knives, swords and other weapons
- weapons and goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment
Step 7 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules
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.
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).
Step 10 If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods
If you paid too much Customs Duty or import VAT or rejected the goods, you can claim a refund or ask for a payment to be waived.
If you paid too little Customs Duty or import VAT, report it to HMRC.
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.