Do you plan to import goods or supplies into the UK from abroad? Trading internationally means that the world is yours. You can find customers – all over the globe. In case you consider taking your business to the next step, you’ll need to make sure you meet the UK Government’s import control rules and licences. This article will help you with this and we’ll cover the most important information you need to know!
Do you need a UK import licence?
From 1st January 2021 – all goods between the UK, the EU, and the non-EU countries require a customs declaration, meaning it now involves more paperwork and know-how. These changes post-Brexit for the globally trading business will mean extra work, however, you are not alone in this.
Import licences regulate and control certain types of goods entering the UK. These licences are issued by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade – at the Import Licensing Branch. Other types of import licences are issued by other bodies – for example, to import certain medicines, the Department of Health will issue the license.
You must inform about import controls, restrictions, and licenses. In case you don’t get the right licence – you can face customs delays, goods seizure, fines, or penalties.
The good news is that many businesses won’t need a licence to import goods into the UK. They will only need to register for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number).
If your import goods fall in any of the following categories, you’ll need a licence:
- Plants, plant products,
- High-risk food products,
- Medicines for people or animals,
- Controlled drugs,
- Hazardous chemicals,
- Tissues and cells for human application,
- Animals or animal products,
- Nuclear material,
- Firearms, knives, swords.
Planning to import food products, you’ll make sure to check that they don’t fall into the high-risk category. For example, foods containing salmonella, pesticides aflatoxins, or mycotoxins – are in the high-risk category.
The Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) – is one more type of UK import licence you need to know about. This is used for the goods arriving from countries with lower product safety standards than the UK. For example, cosmetics, certain medicines, food supplements, and other products which come into contact with humans.
Whether you need an import licence or a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS), the first place to go is the DIT’s Import Licensing Branch portal, also known as its Case Management System.
VAT on imports
If you import goods into the UK from outside the country or from outside the EU to Northern Ireland you may have to pay import VAT on goods. For supplies of services from outside the UK you must account for VAT under the reverse charge procedure.
These are normally charged at the same rate as if they had been supplied in the UK. But if you import works of art, antiques, and collectors’ items they’re entitled to a reduced rate of VAT.
How much does the import cost?
The simplest answer to this question is – it depends on what you’re importing and where from. You may need multiple licences or other checks for your goods. This can be applied to exports, too. The cost of application fees when shipping goods either to or from the UK may be added here also.
You’ll need to take into consideration not only the price of goods but transportation costs, fees charged by outsourced service providers, and charges levied by government agencies for export/import duty and VAT.
Your major cost may be the transport cost – bringing your goods to the UK. You have several options to choose from: air freight, sea freight, rail, and road.
Foreign exchange platforms can offer savings on international payments by offering the real, mid-market exchange rate and requiring just a small upfront fee for each transfer. Make sure you check all your possibilities depending on where you are from.
Thinking of trading internationally?
This article was written to offer some help by providing general information about importing your goods to the UK market. We encourage you to consult with an expert if you have questions or you need some additional help! Our team at ITnnov helps brands from Central and Southeastern Europe to expand into the UK market. If you are interested in learning your market potential – please don’t hesitate and ask for our help!