What do I do if I received damaged goods on import?

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What do I do if I received damaged goods on import? Find out what you can do about it and how you can get refunded for Duty.

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One of the issues which can come up with international transport of goods is what do you do if you received damaged goods on import?  It might also be that you found your goods to not be of sufficient quality.  There are a few things to be aware of first.


Always get yourself a blanket insurance policy to cover all your imports or exports.  These are not necessarily especially expensive and gives you peace of mind.

Investigate with your freight forwarder

The freight forwarder may be able to trace what happened with your goods and whether to take preventative measures.  It would be worth noting that its possible the freight forwarder on the UK side may not have even seen your goods.

Notify the seller

If your shipping terms were up to arrival port or if the seller covered some part of the shipment journey then they will need to investigate also.  Additionally, packing of the goods may be an issue, the seller should review this.  If you can show that the seller was partly to blame or the seller has the goods under warranty, you may be able to obtain a credit. 

Request a Duty refund on damaged / unusable goods

You’ll need to present evidence to HMRC, examples are:

  • Credit note from the seller clearly stating the reason for the credit and cross-referencing the original invoice.
  • A certificate of condemnation, the importer should state that some or all of the imported product was damaged and unusable.
  • A statement from an official body, so for example Port Health, which attests to the status.
  • Details of a full settlement / claim against an insurer or carrier.
  • If you obtained a survey or otherwise an independent investigation a copy of the report produced would support a claim.

Where possible with all of this you should take pictures and / or video as well.  Some sellers may require you to present evidence of destruction of that is the course you must take. You’ll need to either submit your own refund request or ask your freight forwarder to do it.

Your relationship with the seller is key here as if they do not agree to a refund for any damaged / poor goods.  This should have been a consideration when you initially gave them the purchase order, or as part of your RFP.

If the forwarder is at fault and refuse to help you can always contact BIFA. This should be your last resort, the forwarder should do everything to help and resolve any query.


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