All businesses in this sector must comply with a range of import-specific regulations. The key issues relate to the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom (the Tariff), duties and intellectual property. Also, see the page in this guide on import regulations in the transport, transport infrastructure and services sector.
Using the Integrated Tariff
A common customs tariff is applied across all European Union (EU) countries on goods imported from outside the EU. Specific tariff duties and measures are contained in the Tariff.
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 rates
See our guide: introduction to the Tariff.
Preferential rates of duty
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. For more information on how to determine whether a product is an originating one, read Notice 830 - Tariff Preference: New GSP rules of origin.
The European Community has a number of other preferential trade agreements with third countries, as a result of which goods may attract preferential rates of duty. You can find out about free trade agreements, economic partnership agreements, everything but arms, and GSP+ in our guide on using trade preferences.
If you are registered for VAT 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 in addition to your Intrastat return 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 . While Intrastat is only applicable to VAT-registered traders in goods above the annual threshold, the requirement to complete EC sales list declarations also applies to businesses supplying services subject to the reverse charge mechanism to VAT-registered businesses in the EU.
Intellectual property (IP)
You should ensure that imported goods do not breach the IP rights of other businesses, eg check that any components you import aren't infringing active patents. 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. For more information, see our guide on intellectual property protection overseas.
You are advised to see this GOV.UK guide on UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and Dual-Use items if you intended to export controlled military or dual-use goods as well as the Tariff.