Importing into the UK? Here is some general guidance if you are a commercial business.
Here are my import into UK – General guidance top 10 tips:
- Check if what you are importing requires special checks. Most imports do not require anything specifically, however some goods are restricted. I’ll cover restricted imports in another article.
- Check that you are legally able to act as an importer. In many countries around the world you need to have at least a Tax ID or some establishment authorisation. In UK we use EORI numbers.
- Make sure you have a freight forwarder to act on your behalf. You can view an article about forwarder selection here. They will have systems in place to access Customs directly to make declarations on your behalf.
- Check you understand your Duty / VAT liability. This will go hand in hand with selecting a commodity code.
- Giving the freight forwarder clear instructions. I will cover what sort of instructions to give to your freight forwarder in a later article.
- Knowing what will happen to your goods once arrived in UK. Whether by sea, air or road you need to be confident that you have end to end support from your forwarder. Demurrage / storage charges can incur due to the inaction or lack of support from the forwarder. Before your goods dispatch from origin you should be sure what will happen on arrival.
- Be ready to pay! Unless you have your own deferment account, which I will cover in a later article, the importer will pay the taxes to the freight forwarding agent on clearance. If you delay this you could incur storage charges/demurrage.
- You should already have agreed import charges with your forwarder, and if required you may need to pay this in advance of delivery. Do so without delay and by the fastest method.
- Instructions for delivery. The importer should instruction the forwarder clearly where and when you need delivery, so if you have opening / closing times you should make these known. If you have specific booking in requirements instruct accordingly. Importers should also advise if a fork lift is available or not to unload, as well as any access restrictions to your site.
- The importer should obtain and keep copies of the Customs declaration. See my article on document retention.
Standard Operating Procedures – SOP
In my experience the biggest problems can occur where there is a breakdown in communication with the importer and forwarder. Take the forwarder’s advice on most things but don’t give them any wiggle room if any extra costs incur if you have followed the above guidance.
Freight forwarders can make mistakes but it’s important you don’t pay for them! Get your agreements in place before you start working with them.
Import into UK – General guidance top 10 tips