Frequently asked questions

What paperwork is required to customs clear goods in the UK?

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Health Certificate (foodstuff)
  • Import Licence
  • EUR1 Certificate (or Invoice declaration if goods are shipped from Canada, EU, Japan or South Korea) - when claiming preference
  • GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) – when claiming preference for imports from GSP countries.

What is a certificate of origin?

A Certificate of Origin (CO) confirms the origin of the exported goods. It is usually issued for goods that are being sold abroad as a permanent export. Certificate of origin may be requested for commercial or customs reasons.

Know your commodity code (HC)

Commodity codes are an internationally recognised method for defining types of goods for customs purposes as they are traded between countries. When a product is imported or exported across a border, a commodity code must be provided so the correct customs measures are applied.

Commodity codes in the UK have changed since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

Commodity codes in the UK follow a 10-digit format for imports and an 8-digit format for exports. format through the global standard Harmonised System (HS).

Why is it important? It is by finding the right commodity code for your goods that you can identify what duties and measures will apply to your goods when you import or export them.

Be clear with your Incoterm

Incoterms, widely used terms of sale, are a set of 11 internationally recognized rules which define the responsibilities of sellers and buyers. Incoterms specify who is responsible for paying for and managing the shipment, insurance, documentation, customs clearance, and other logistical activities.

What do I need to import/export goods in the UK?

You must have a UK registered company with a GB EORI number.

What is a UK EORI number?

An EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number is used to identify your business as an importer and allows you to reclaim your import VAT.

Who needs an EORI?

You may need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number) if you move goods:

  • between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the EU)
  • between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • between Great Britain and the Channel Islands
  • between Northern Ireland and countries outside the EU

You will also need an EORI number to register for an export licence on SPIRE.

You do not need an EORI number if you’re moving goods that are both:

  • not controlled goods
  • for personal use only

What's an ATA carnet?

The ATA Carnet is an international Customs document which allows the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment or goods going to either a trade fair or exhibition to countries which are part of the ATA Carnet system duty-free and tax-free. Without one you would need to complete each country's customs procedures for the temporary admission of goods e.g. lodging a temporary import bond.

Who can use an ATA carnet?

Some examples of who can use an ATA Carnet are, exhibitors, salespeople, artists, athletes, TV crews, technicians, event participants and business travelers may travel through customs without paying import duties or taxes at each customs border office.

The ATA Carnet acts as a passport for goods. It simplifies the customs formalities by allowing a single document to be used for clearing goods through customs in the countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. An ATA Carnet is valid for 1 year and allows for movement of the goods shown on the Carnet as many times as required during the 12 months to any of the destinations applied for.

EUR1 Movement Certificate

A EUR1 is a customs document used for international trade. The application is based on a number of bi- and multilateral trade agreements within the Pan-European preferential system, such as between EFTA and the EU. The free trade agreements define goods which can be imported at lower duties or even duty free. Provided that they have been manufactured in a contracting State. If that is provided the EUR1 document is treated as an equivalent to a certificate of origin (in the sense of foreign trade law). In order to prove the origin and benefit from the preferential customs treatment the document must be presented to the authority (customs administration) for approval.

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