Importing in to the UK

Q. Do I need to be VAT registered to importĀ  into or export from the UK or EU?

A. No you do not need to be registered for VAT to import products but you do need to have a valid EORI number. See section below about EORI numbers.

Q. Do I need to pay any taxes such as Duty or VAT on my products?

A. This depends on the HS commodity code. All products are classified under this system. The HS is short for Harmonised System. This is an effort to make it simple to handle imports across all countries. So the HS commodity code for cotton T-shirts is the same for the UK, Ireland, Germany,etc. You can then use the online tariff code system to look up the commodity code. This will then tell you if duty is applicable and at what rate and also if VAT is applicable and at what rate. It will also then give you additionally information on if there is any anti-dumping surcharge due, licences required for import, if excise duty is applicable and various other rules which need complying to.

Q. How do I find a tariff code?

A. You can either look for it directly using the online tariff, or you can ring the HM Customs HS commodity line. You give them a description of the items you are planning to import and they will give you a commodity code which you can then look up to find what duty and vat rules are applied to the product. Note that this information line does not give any information about how to import the goods, just the commodity code.

Q. What paperwork do I need when importing goods into the UK?

A. You need a minimum of the following:

  • Copy of Invoice
  • Copy of packing list
  • Copy of bill of lading or Airway Bill
  • HM Customs Import Tariff Code
  • Permanent import or Temporary Import


What is an EORI number? and how do I get an EORI number?

Q. What is an EORI number? and how do I get an EORI number?

A. An EORI is a unique identifier for every importer into the European Union.

Q. Can an individual import goods or are only companies allowed to do this?

A. Individuals are allowed to apply for their own EORI number. You do not need a company.

Q. How to I apply for a EORI Number?

A. Each country manages the issue of EORI numbers through its customs services. In the UK there are 2 forms which now can be complete on line depending on if you are VAT registered or not. HM Customs make no charge for this service. If you are shipping with us and have issues then you are welcome to contact us for assistance.

Please note that due to the BREXIT all VAT registered companies are being automatically being issued with an EORI number.
WARNING: Beware of people charging for the service of applying for EORI numbers. It is a free service and anybody can do this. The form is relatively easy to complete and any good forwarder will help as part of the shipping service.


Q. When should I apply for an EORI Number?

A. For imports individuals and Non VAT registered companies need to apply as soon as the shipping docs have been issued. As these need to be submitted along with the completed C220a form. VAT registered companies can apply at any time to have their VAT number serve also as an EORI number.

For exports involving individuals and non VAT registered companies it should be done as soon as the initial shipping paperwork isĀ  complete. VAT registered companies should complete the C220 form as soon as the company arranges its first export order.