As we noted in Part I of our series entitled Important Importing Information, bringing goods into the UK from other countries involves working with various government agencies and conforming to specific regulations. Along with restrictions on certain items and variables that influence the rate at which customs tariffs will be levied on goods, we noted that tariffs are calculated on the value of the items being imported.

Determining Tariffs:

Here are some general figures used when tariffs are charged to countries that do not have a preferred trading status with the UK or to nations that may be awarded partial relief from paying duty.

  • Raw materials—most are free of duty but some are taxed up to a 4.5% of the material’s value. Some metals are assessed at a higher rate.
  • Semi-finished articles—rates range from 2% to 14% of the value.
  • Finished items—rates are calculated from 3% to 20% of the import’s value.
  • Agricultural products—these vary significantly and are difficult to summarize.
  • Specific information on any item that may be imported into the UK can be found in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) publication Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom, which may be read in Revenue and Customs and Inland Customs Advice Centres or may be purchased for about £200 from the Stationery Office by calling 020 7873 0011. You can also reach HMRC by contacting 0845 010 9000.

Key Consideration Regarding Importing:

There is essential information you want to keep in mind when participating in the importation of goods. The list below is not exhaustive, but it will offer some basic guidance as you begin your search.

  • Every import comes under a specific classification and must be properly identified and described. Failing to do so could result in fines that would be reflected in a higher tariff, license and VAT rate being levied.
  • There are 140 nations that send goods into the UK tariff free or at a reduced rate. However, quantities of specific items from some of these countries are restricted.
  • To attain a reduced or a zero tariff rate, the shipment must have a certificate of preference.
  • The European Community's Common Customs Tariff (CCT) is published annually. It includes set tariff rates that member nations charge.
  • HMR&C publishes a three-volume publication entitled Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom that includes information on all aspects of tariff rules and regulations, including categories of classification for all goods, a list nations with preferred status and the value of imported items.
  • Member nations of the European Union (EU) share the same rates, regulations and privileges when importing items.

Importing may be seen to be a daunting process, however over the last decade the UK has labored to simplify the process for all nations, including non-EU members. This includes the EU’s New Computerized Transit System, which is dedicated to moving imported goods more efficiently and quickly. Traders have the option of using this coordinated network, which connects customs offices directly to each shipment via the Internet, utilizes paperless records and incorporates electronic tracing of shipments.

With fewer trade restrictions, a commitment to state-of-the-art transit and communication systems and a desire to encourage economic growth, trading across borders continues to become less burdensome and intimidating for UK companies.