Importing your goods from outside the European Union

Suspending or delaying import charges

There are a number of customs procedures which can benefit traders and can be used to help delay or suspend paying duty.

Imported goods are not normally released by customs until you have paid duty and VAT. Import duty is one of two main duties collected by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Import duty is a tax charged on goods imported into the European Union (EU). The other main duty is excise duty, which is a tax on goods such as alcohol or tobacco.

However, if you import regularly you can set up a deferment account with HMRC, allowing you to pay monthly in arrears. You must provide a financial guarantee from a bank, insurance company or building society to cover the charges you owe. Read guidance on deferring import duty and VAT. Read more about customs warehousing.

Delaying liability

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to delay your liability to import duty or VAT.

If you do not need the imported goods immediately, or you intend to re-export them, you can store them in an authorised customs warehouse. You do not have to pay import duty, excise duty or VAT until you remove the goods into free circulation.

Similar rules apply for goods held in one of the UK's designated Free Zones. A Free Zone is a holding area for non-EU goods where import duty and VAT are suspended or delayed until the goods are released into free circulation.