Starting to import

Moving goods from EU countries

When moving goods from European Union (EU) countries, you need to get a commodity code and pay VAT, but not import duty. You don’t normally need an import licence.

Imports within the EU are called ‘acquisitions’.

Commodity codes

You need a commodity code if you’re moving goods from other EU countries. The code classifies your goods for tax and regulations.

Import licences

You won’t normally need an import licence for imports from the EU. However, some goods like firearms may require one.

Paying VAT for EU acquisitions

If you move goods from another EU country you must add these acquisitions and any tax due to your VAT Return. You can reclaim the VAT paid if the goods are for you to make taxable supplies or use in your business.

You’ll have to fill in an Intrastat Declaration if the total value of your goods is more than £1,500,000.

You’ll have to pay VAT at UK rates for acquisitions from another EU country.

There are different rules for services.

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Businesses registered in EU countries and selling to UK customers can charge VAT at their domestic rate - but must register for VAT in the UK once they cross the VAT registration threshold.

Paying duty on acquisitions from EU countries

You don’t have to pay duty on goods that have been produced in the EU. These goods are ‘in free circulation’ in all EU countries.

This also covers goods from outside the EU if duty has already been paid on them.

Example A French company imports bicycles from China and pays duty on them. They are now in free circulation and you can move them to the UK without paying further duties.