- Obtain an EORI number
If you move goods between the UK and other countries, you must have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. For England, Wales and Scotland, your EORI number must begin with GB. For Northern Ireland, your EORI number must begin with XI.
You can apply for an EORI number on the gov.uk website.
More information on trading with Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic can be obtained from the UK governments Trader Support Service
- If another party (eg Ligentia) is going to act on your behalf, provide written authorisation
In order for another party to act as your Customs Agent, you will need to provide written authorisation (in the form of a Letter of Empowerment/ authorisation) before they are able to assist in moving your goods.
- Classify your goods with a commodity code.
Customs declarations require a commodity code (HS classification), which is internationally recognised, to identify your goods. This code will determine the duties and taxes applied by customs.
Determine which commodity code you need by visiting the gov.uk website and using their Trade tariff tool.
It is the importers legal responsibility to ensure the goods are correctly classified.
- Work out the value of your goods.
Import declarations need to include the value of your goods as this determines how much duty and VAT you will pay. To calculate the value, you must use one of 6 methods, which are explained on the gov.uk website.
- Establish the origin of your goods.
If a trade agreement is in place with the country you are importing from, it could be possible to pay less duty or no duty. Likewise, duty may be delayed or reduced depending on where the goods are from and what you plan to do with them. By clarifying the origin of your goods, you can find out if you qualify for a ‘preferential rate’. You must be sure the goods qualify for preferential import duty and have documented evidence before the goods are entered and cleared.
- Understand the rules and licenses that apply to your goods.
Some goods may be subject to import restrictions or need additional requirements or import licenses. You should check locally before importing. These include, but are by no means limited to, items such as:
- animals and animal products,
- drugs and medicines,
- medical devices,
- Food products,
- Items subject to import licensing regulations,
- and waste.
- Agree on Incoterms.
Incoterms 2020 published by the International Chambers of Commerce. Internationally recognised, they detail the responsibilities of the buyer and seller under each of 11 possible terms of shipment. These also define at which point risk passes from the Seller to the Buyer.
Ensure your Incoterms are agreed so that shipping and delivery responsibilities are understood across the board.
If appropriate under the incoterms, ensure your supplier is aware and prepared to clear the cargo.
- Make your import declaration.
In order for your goods to make it through the UK border, you will need to submit an import declaration. If you are using a customs broker (e.g. Ligentia), they will handle this for you.
It is the importers legal responsibility to ensure the goods are correctly classified and the correct rates of duty paid and taxes, even if you are using a broker.
- Manage your duty and VAT.
Some goods require you to pay import duty, while some benefit from duty suspension. If you pay the wrong amount of duty or reject the goods, you can claim a refund.
If you are VAT registered, you can claim back any VAT paid on your imported goods as long as you can provide your Import VAT Certificate (C79).
If you are VAT registered, you may wish to postpone your import VAT payments and account for them in your regular VAT return. You will need to register for and download your monthly postponed VAT report from the HMRC website.
- Keep hold of all your paperwork.
Commercial invoices and customs paperwork should be kept, including your Import VAT Certificate (C79) and or postponed VAT statements for at least 4 years, or as required by financial legislation.
To view the export customs entry checklist click here.