Calculating and paying import duty rates

What is the rate of import duty in the UK?

You’ll need to pay a UK customs duty on any commercial imports from outside of the European Union if the value of the goods and any postage, packaging or insurance is above £630. The duty rates vary depending on the type of goods. You can use the HS codes (also known as commodity codes) to check the duty rates on GOV.UK.

You’ll also need to pay VAT on commercial goods from outside the European Union (and from EU special territories) worth more than £15 or any alcohol, tobacco products or fragrances. The standard VAT rate is 20%. You can check if your goods qualify for a lower VAT rate on GOV.UK.

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Import duty after Brexit

When the Brexit transition period ends the European Union’s Common External Tariff (CET) will be replaced with the UK Global Tariff (UKGT). This means from January 2021 your shipping costs might change as the UKGT will apply if the UK does not have a preferential agreement with the country you’re importing goods from.

The UK duty you’ll need to pay will depend on the type of goods you’re importing as well as the country you’re importing goods from. You can check the UKGT trade tariff on GOV.UK.

How is import duty calculated?

To check what duty and taxes you need to pay, you’ll first need to add together the value of the goods, the shipping costs and the cost of any insurance. Then, calculate the UK duty on this total based on the percentage that applies to your goods, for example 3%.

Add the UK duty to the combined value of the goods, shipping and insurance, then calculate the VAT you’ll need to pay, for example 20%.

Here’s an example:
Value of goods + shipping + insurance = £2,000
UK duty based on the HS codes for the goods = £166 (8.3%)
Subtotal = £2,166
20% VAT on £2,166 = £433.20
Total duty and taxes = £166 + £433.20 = £599.20

How to pay import duty

The courier or freight forwarder you use to import the goods should contact you to confirm how much you owe HMRC in duty and taxes and how to pay them.

Some companies will declare your goods to UK customs and pay the UK Duty and VAT on your behalf. They’ll then ask you to pay them the duty and VAT. You might be able to claim the VAT back in your VAT return depending on the goods and where you’re importing from.

Next steps

Are you an importer or or thinking about importing goods into the UK? If so, our dedicated team of FX specialists are here to support you. We’ll provide you with options that could help you minimise currency risk, effectively plan your annual expenditure and better manage your FX exposure.

Contact the team today and better manage your budget and spend.

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