Starting to import

Moving goods from EU countries

When moving goods from European Union (EU) countries, you need to pay VAT but not import duty. You do not normally need an import licence.

Imports from the EU are called ‘acquisitions’.

Importing from 1 January 2021

You’ll need to follow the rules for importing goods from the rest of the world.

Import licences

You will not normally need an import licence for imports from the EU. However some goods like weapons, animal products, and medicine might require one.

Paying VAT for EU acquisitions

If you move goods from an 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 an 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 do not 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.