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Import duty & taxes when importing into United Kingdom

Overview

Import duty and taxes are due when importing goods into the United Kingdom from outside of the EU whether by a private individual or a commercial entity. The import duty and taxes payable are calculated on the CIF value, i.e. the sum of the value of the imported goods and the cost of shipping and insurance. 

Duty Rates

The duty rates applied to imports into the United Kingdom typically range between 0% (for example books) and 17% (for example Wellington Boots).  Some products, such as Laptops, Mobile Phones, Digital cameras and Video Game consoles, are duty free. However, certain goods may even be subject to additional duties depending on the country of manufacture, for example Bicycles made in China carry an additional (anti dumping) duty of 48.5%.    

VAT Rates

The standard VAT rate for importing items into the United Kingdom is 20%, with certain products, for example Children's car seats, attracting VAT at the reduced rate of 5%, and some goods are exempt from VAT altogether, for example books, children clothes and children shoes. VAT is calculated on the value of the goods, plus the international shipping costs and insurance, plus any import duty due. 

Minimum thresholds

For imports into the UK, there are minimum thresholds below which duty and VAT are waived.

Duty is not charged if either:

  • the FOB value, i.e. the value of the goods excluding shipping and insurance cost, does not exceed £135 
  • the amount of duty payable does not exceed £9 

VAT is not charged if:
 
  • the FOB value, i.e. the value of the goods excluding shipping and insurance cost, does not exceed £15


Other taxes and customs fees

  • Excise duty is payable on for example tobacco and alcohol.
  • Additional customs fees can be charged to cover the expense of performing any required examinations, verification and or testing of the imported goods.

Duty and tax refunds
 
Should you be entitled to a duty and tax refund due to overpayment or returns of imported products to the seller, you may submit form C285 with HMRC.  The relevant information and forms can be found here


Local Customs office and contacts

More information on import declaration procedures and import restrictions you can find at the website of HM Revenues and Customs.