UK import duty and taxes
Everything about the custom charges you'll need to pay when bringing goods into the UK, and learn how Wise can help you manage your business across borders.
How does the UK charge import duty?
If you need to pay import duty on a parcel, you'll be contacted by Royal Mail (or your courier) and instructed on how to pay. You'll usually have 3 weeks to pay any charges, before they send parcel back.
If the parcel is from outside the EU, you may be charged VAT, customs, or excise duty on it. This also applies to gifts and goods from the EU if they're above a certain value.
You'll need to know the tariff or HS code to calculate the exact rate due. If you also need to pay VAT, it'll be charged on the total value of your goods, including import duty.
What goods are considered gifts?
HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) will consider a parcel a gift if the sender has described it as a gift on the customs declaration. To qualify, the parcel will need to be sent between two people (not companies) for an appropriate occasion (like a birthday, or anniversary).
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How do you calculate import duty in the UK?
Imagine you need to import a shipment of umbrellas from China to the UK. The goods cost £15,000, and the shipping and insurance costs £7,000.
- The shipment is worth more than £135, and the goods can't be considered gifts, so you'll need to pay a specific import duty rate.
- To find out how much you'll need to pay, you'll need to check the commodity code for umbrellas, and apply the import duty rate for that code — 4.5%.
- Tax will be due on the cost of the goods and shipping, which in this case is £22,000 (£15,000 + £7,000).
- 4.5% of £22,000 is £990 (22,000 ✖ 0,045). So for the goods, shipping, and import duty, you'll pay £22,990 in total. As it’s from outside the EU, you’ll also need to pay VAT on this amount.
Use our import duty calculator to calculate the expected duty that might accure when bringing goods into the UK.
How to pay import tax?
If you need to pay import duty on a delivery, UK customs will automatically let Royal Mail or your courier know, and they’ll contact you. They’ll tell you how much you need to pay, and when it’s due, so you won’t need to worry about calculating it yourself (unless you think a mistake has been made).
To save time, you can usually get your supplier to send the shipping invoice before the delivery. This means you can let Royal Mail or your courier know beforehand, and pay the charges before the goods arrive to the UK.
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Import duty: your questions, answered
If you’re buying goods for sample purposes only, and don’t intend to sell them, you can save on import duty and VAT. To qualify, there are some criteria that the goods need to meet:
- They need to be of negligible value
- They need to be used solely for getting future orders for the same product
If the price of the products, shipping, duty, and insurance comes to more than £15, then you’ll still need to pay VAT. And if that total is above £135, you’ll need to pay UK duty as well.