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Clearing UK Customs: A Guide for Businesses

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Originally Posted On: Clearing UK Customs: A Guide for Businesses – Business News Day


The United Kingdom runs on trade. Nearly 700 billion dollars worth of imports entered the UK in 2019.

The high number makes it sound like the country is being flooded with goods. But that’s far from the truth. UK customs carefully controls the quantity and quality of imports that pass through borders.

What should you understand about custom clearance? What rules and bodies regulate UK customs? What steps should you take to get clearance?

Answer these questions and you can ship your goods into the UK without a fuss. Here is your quick guide.

What Is Customs Clearance?

UK customs controls the goods that enter the United Kingdom. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the government body that controls UK customs. They can block the transportation of goods and charge for transportation.

Customs clearance is the process of passing through customs. Every country has its own clearance process, and most involve several steps. UK customs are no different.

Clearance is difficult and labor-intensive. But it preserves fair trading practices and prevents the entrance of illicit or poor-quality goods. You should follow regulations, even if they delay your internal operations.

Important Customs Rules and Bodies

There are many customs rules you should understand. Keep in mind that they are prone to change. Visit the HMRC’s website and follow recent developments on the news.

Anti-Dumping Duty

Importers must pay the anti-dumping duty to prevent them from dumping goods in the UK. It is a percentage of the cost of the imported goods.

Not all goods receive a duty. Many goods from China get one because some Chinese importers dump poor-quality products in the UK. This is the case of bicycles, kitchenware, and ceramic tiles.

Port Health

Port health authorities are bodies within local governments. They examine food, containers, and kitchenware at UK ports.

They track where food is coming from and examine local health standards. They look at the food itself and make sure it is safe to consume.

Importers must supply this information to the authorities. The authorities err on the side of caution and refuse any food they think may be unsafe.

Trading Standards

Trading Standards is a body within the HMRC. The body has several offices throughout the country, regulating customs in designated areas. Trading Standards examine goods to make sure they are of high quality.

They have broad latitude. They determine whether goods are counterfeit or if they meet proper product labeling practices.

All goods must submit to Trading Standards. But certain offices like to focus on lithium batteries, toys, and electronics.

All toys must have CE markings that show they adhere to European standards for trade. All materials in all products must contain harmless substances. One toxic material may result in denial.

Intellectual Property

All imports must follow intellectual property protections. Industrial property protections regulate products. Any product cannot infringe on someone else’s patent or trademark.

Creative works must adhere to copyright. They cannot plagiarize someone else’s content. They cannot utilize someone else’s characters without their permission.

Customs authorities are very protective of intellectual property. Even if the infringement was a genuine mistake, they will destroy the potential imports.

The First Steps for Passing Through Customs

Before you begin, you can hire someone to deal with customs on your behalf. Organizations like JS Forwarding can handle the entire process for you. If you have a big shipment that you need to import quickly, you should hire someone.

If you choose to manage the process yourself, you need to set up your business. Get an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number.

Your number should start with GB if you want to send goods into England, Wales, or Scotland. To import into Northern Island, get a number with XI.

Don’t declare your goods just yet. You may be able to go through a simplified declaration track. Do some research and check your options.

You will need to register with the government to import food, animals, and medicines. You will need a separate certificate to import these goods, alongside weapons and chemicals. You can register and get certified through the government’s website.

Double-check the rules for labeling and intellectual property. Figure out which Trading Standards office will examine your imports. Follow all of the regulations and change your goods if they violate the rules.

When Your Goods Arrive

The government requires importers of plant and animal products to choose an inspection point. This is a special location where the goods can receive close examination.

You can submit your import declaration at this stage. Importers from the EU can delay their declaration for a few months. Consider a delay if you need it.

You can then pay your anti-dumping duty and value-added tax. You should pay as soon as possible. Your goods will be held up if you don’t pay your duties.

Your goods can get held up if you lack a license or fail an inspection. You can appeal the decision. Go to the National Clearance Hub and ask for help.

How to Clear UK Customs

UK customs regulate imports into the United Kingdom. They operate with numerous rules and internal bodies.

The anti-dumping tax prevents the import of low-quality goods. Port health authorities control food at UK ports.

Trading Standards offices check for counterfeit and labeling practices. All products must adhere to intellectual property protections.

You can hire someone to handle the process for you. You must set up your business and receive a license for certain goods. You then submit your declaration and pay your taxes.

Businesses build around government regulations. Follow our coverage for more business and government guides.

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