International trade regulations in the clothing, footwear and fashion sector

Tariffs and duties in the clothing, fashion and footwear industry

There is a range of import-specific regulations that must be complied with by all businesses in this sector. The key issues relate to the Tariff, duties, Intrastat and intellectual property (IP).

Using the Integrated Tariff

A common customs tariff is applied across all European Union (EU) countries on goods imported from outside the EU.

Access the UK Trade Tariff.

Read more information on classifying your goods.

The Tariff is used to determine the specific classification code of your goods and to find out:

  • any licensing requirements that apply
  • the rates of duty and import VAT that apply
  • any additional charges, such as anti-dumping duties
  • any available preferential duty rate

Preferential rates of duty

Often used by textile industry traders, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) allows originating products from a wide range of countries to be imported into the EU at a reduced or zero rate of duty. Read notice 830 - Tariff Preference: New GSP rules of origin for more information on how to determine whether a product is an originating one.

The European Community has a number of other preferential trade agreements with third countries (countries outside the EU), as a result of which goods may attract preferential rates of duty.


If you are VAT registered and the goods you acquire from or supply to VAT-registered businesses in other EU countries reach the Intrastat exemption threshold for the year, you must submit monthly supplementary declarations to HMRC. The current thresholds are £1.5 million for Arrivals and £250,000 for Dispatches.

Intrastat is the method of collecting information and producing statistics on goods traded between EU member states. See our guide on Intrastat - reporting the value and volume of intra-EU trade. Intrastat is only applicable to VAT-registered traders.


You should ensure that imported goods do not breach the IP rights of other businesses, eg watch out for counterfeit goods and design infringements. Infringing goods can be seized and destroyed by HMRC. You can ask HMRC to check for imported counterfeit versions of your goods. Read how HMRC can help protect your IP rights. Read further information on intellectual property protection overseas.