Importing from non-EU countries

Importing from non-EU countries

If you are considering starting a business exporting goods from outside the UK, in particularly non-EU countries, there are a few rules and declarations to follow when doing so. Following procedures and laws is extremely important to ensure that you can enjoy your business without any complications or worries.

To import goods into the UK from outside the European Union you will need:

  • Find the correct and appropriate commodity code for your goods
  • In some cases it is necessary to pay VAT
  • Fill in a VAT return if you are VAT registered
  • Register with the CHIEF system for importers if you’re importing from outside the EU
  • Declare the goods you are importing using the CHIEF system
  • In some cases you may need to pay duty
  • Some goods such as firearms will require you to get a licence
  • Check to see if the goods you wish to import are banned from being imported into the UK

Commodity Codes

You will need a commodity code for all imports from non-EU countries. The code can be obtained from and classifies your goods for import so that you pay the right tax and duty and follow regulations.

Import Licences

If your business is considering exporting or importing goods, you will need to check if you need a licence. There are controls on exports of military or paramilitary goods, technology, artworks, plants and animals, medicines and chemicals. There are also controls on imports including firearms, plants and animals, foods, medicines, textiles and chemicals. Whether you need a licence can also depend on where the goods are coming from. Exporting or importing controlled goods without the right licence is a criminal offence, so it’s important to check first.

Import Declarations to Customs

You must declare all imports from outside the European Union to HMRC using the Single Administration Document which then gets submitted through CHIEF system. You’ll need to classify your goods according to the UK Trade Tariff which also lists the duty charges, tax, custom rules and paperwork for imports from non-EU countries. You can also use a freight forwarding agent to make the declaration for you.

Paying Duty and VAT on Imports

You normally have to pay duty on goods imported from non-EU countries when they’re first brought into the EU. The amount of duty you pay depends on how the goods are classified under the UK Trade Tariff and how they’ll be used. You may be able to apply for reduced or zero rate duty for goods from certain countries as long as you can prove their origin. Your goods will not be released by customs until you’ve paid all duty and UK VAT.

These are the basic details of the regulations listed and stated in the guidelines to follow when importing from outside the EU.



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