Step by step guide to: Importing goods and services from the EU
Monday, 9 May 2022
Step by Step Guide
The rules for importing from the EU have changed. Although no quotas will apply, UK importers may need to pay customs duties and VAT.
Watch an HMRC video on what you need to know to bring in the UK .
Import goods into the UK - step-by-step guidance from GOV.UK.
You’ll need a UK EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) – a 12-digit number that starts with ‘GB’ - to continue to move goods in or out of the UK. HMRC has already issued EORI numbers to VAT-registered businesses. If you are not VAT-registered you will need to apply for an EORI number.
You may also need an EORI number starting with XI if you move goods to or from Northern Ireland
Customs declarations are now required for goods brought into GB from the EU. If you are not importing controlled goods you may be able to delay making a declaration by up to 175 days after import.
A downloadable personal planner for supplementary declarations is available from GOV.UK to help you through the timeline for supplementary declarations.
Read HMRC’s policy for goods arriving in Great Britain without an import declaration
Completing a Customs Declaration
Many businesses appoint expert support to help them organise some or all of their customs requirements. The Government has published a list of specialist support from which you can choose an organisation to help you. There is also UK Government guidance available if you choose to make customs declarations yourself
Further guidance is available from:
- The British International Freight (BIFA), which has a search function to help find the appropriate customs agent
- Find a list of customs training providers which will help you submit customs declarations.
- Check a list of software developers to get help with Customs Declaration Service and Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) declarations.
- Find out more about how to meet customs requirements fast and efficiently after the UK leaves the EU through customs declaration training offered through your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Find out more about customs declaration completion requirements when using the CHIEF and CDS trade tariffs to import goods to from Great Britain after the end of the transition period.
- Digital Trader Services brings together customs expertise and technology to deliver an online solution for improved customs management. Find out more on the Digital Trader Services website .
Trade Tariff: Commodity Codes, duty and VAT rates
Commodity codes classify goods for import so you can:
- Fill in declarations and other paperwork
- Check if there’s duty or VAT to pay
- Find out about duty reliefs
- Check if any measures apply to the goods
If you’re not sure how to classify your goods, check how to find the right commodity code .
Paying customs duties and VAT
For goods coming from outside of the UK (from the EU or RoW), import VAT will be due , with the liability of the VAT dependent on the agreed Incoterm. Details on the rules that apply to each Incoterm can be found on the International Chamber of Commerce website .
For services provided by suppliers in other countries, the UK buyer may have to account for VAT by applying the reverse charge mechanism.
You can check the new rules covering VAT, customs and excise duty for goods from overseas sold directly to customers in the UK. Consignments of goods valued less than £135 will need to pay UK VAT and those valued at over £135 will be liable for VAT and customs duties.
Read the specific Government guidance covering paying VAT on imports from outside the UK to Great Britain and from outside the EU to Northern Ireland .
There are different rules if you import goods then sell them through an online marketplace.
Businesses holding inventory in the EU may become liable for EU VAT after the transition period. If so, seek professional advice on any tax liabilities and take action now to mitigate against increased business costs and risk.
The Government has also published guidance on:
- Accounting for import VAT on your VAT return
- Claiming a VAT refund
- Claiming a refund if you've paid the wrong amount of duty or have rejected imported goods
You’ll need to pay excise duties if you’re importing alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbon fuels or products that impact the environment.
Licenses for imported goods
If you are bringing goods permanently into the UK, you may need to register for a licence .
You must register to import:
- fresh produce, plants or plant products
- ‘prohibited’ plants or plant products
- live fish or shellfish
- wood or wood products
- human medicines
- veterinary medicines
- controlled goods
Prove Origin of the Goods
Check your goods meet the rules of origin to benefit from zero-tariff trade with the EU. To benefit from the zero tariffs and quotas, you will need to demonstrate that your goods meet the rules of origin according to the terms of the trade agreement between the UK and EU (the TCA). This includes specific rules for different commodity codes. The rules take into account the percentage of materials that originate from the UK or the EU and how much they have been processed or transformed.
Status is proven either by a statement on origin that the product is originating made out by the exporter or the importer’s knowledge . Fife Chamber is an accredited provider of certificates of origin.
Check Government guidance on how to claim preferential rates of duty between the UK and EU
Customs checks at border inspection posts are now needed for certain goods including food and drink products, animals and animal products. It's crucial to take account of the additional costs and delays this will entail.
More help and support available
If you have a specific question about importing, exporting or customs reliefs call our Customs and International Trade helpline on 0300 322 9434. The helpline is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm at weekends. You can also send us your questions or contact us by webchat.
The Export Support Service is a new helpline for UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. The service is a 'one-stop-shop' and brings together UK government information, making it easier for exporters to access advice and support.