What is customs clearance?

Customs clearance is a process compulsory for all goods entering or leaving the EU. Customs clearance allows HM Customs & Excise to account for any due charges, ensure correct documentation has been used and conformity to EU law. It also allows Customs to monitor which goods are coming into or leaving the UK.

Why should I use a customs agent?

Customs agents are there to facilitate a professional service between HM Customs & Excise and importers/exporters. Our agents have significant understanding the Customs rules and regulations applicable and are therefore best suited to provide assistance.

Where can you complete UK customs clearance?

We can complete Import UK customs clearance for your shipments at the following Airports and Sea ports. Airports: London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, London Stansted Airport, London City Airport, London Luton Airport, Birmingham, East Midlands Airport, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Edinburgh. Sea Ports: Any UK port including Felixstowe, London Gateway, Southampton, Grangemouth, Tilbury, Thames port, Dover and Greenock.

How do we customs clear cargo in other ports?

We are based in Cambridgeshire with representatives at ports around the world. Thanks to changes in technology, remote access to other port community systems around the coasts of the UK is possible from one location

How long does customs clearance take?

The customs clearance process can vary from shipment to shipment, and is dependent on what goods are entering the country, once goods have entered the UK port. Certain products may need additional documentation checks or a physical examination to ensure that declarations are correct.

What supporting customs clearance documentation do I require?

Basic documentation would be: - Shipping document ( Bill of Lading – original or telex) - Supplier’s commercial invoice - Packing list Other documentation required for specific goods would be: - Certificate of Origin - Preference Certificates - Health certificates ( for foodstuffs etc ) - COA - Organic certificate Note: Importers should check before they ship if any special documentation is required.

Who decides how much import duties and taxes I have to pay?

UK VAT is currently 20%. Duty is dependent on the type of product being imported. All duty rates are set out by Brussels for the EU, and are payable upon free circulation within the EU. All goods are classified into commodity codes. The duty and VAT amount vary for each commodity. Importers are responsible for the classification of the codes.

How to calculate customs clearance charges?

There are a number of methods that will help you calculate your customs clearance charges. You might be looking to calculate the transactional value or price payable to the seller, or the customs value of identical goods which have been produced in the same country as your imports.

How can I pay for import duties and taxes?

Your customs clearance agent will advise you how much duty and VAT is required to be paid. You can pay customs directly or you can pay us first and we will pay customs on your behalf.

Where can I find more information on customs clearance?

Further information on customs clearance, their rules and regulations, service standards and details of your local Customs clearance office can be found on their website: www.gov.uk/starting-to-import

What happens after customs clearance?

We provide you with copies of all documentation completed on your behalf, which have been lodged with HMRC. We are also able to facilitate delivery of your goods after clearance, if you require it.

I am importing for the first time – How do I know the products I will import are allowed into the EU?

Some commodities, firearms and explosives for example, cannot be imported into the EU unless by an authorised person. If you have any doubts about whether your goods are approved in the EU, feel free to contact us prior to shipment. Details of restricted goods can be found on the UK Customs website: www.gov.uk/guidance/import-controls. Alternatively, please check with a member of our experienced team who would be happy to assist.

I am moving my personal effects/ moving abroad, what do I do?

In order to attain VAT and duty relief for personal effects upon import, specific conditions must be met. If you have recently returned to the UK, lived overseas for a minimum of one year, and have owned the goods for 6 months, no VAT and duty are required. Goods can still be imported if they do not fall under these criteria but duty and VAT may be applicable. Certain documentation is also required with original signatures, so it is important to check with Unsworth beforehand. If you are importing a car, the relief of VAT and duty will depend on the purpose of the vehicle.

Can I import foodstuffs?

The majority of foodstuffs are okay to import when accompanied by relevant official documentation. Certain food items would need additional documentation to be lodged with port health. Importers are required to ensure all documents are in place before goods are imported.

What is an importer?

An importer is a party who makes, personally or via a broker, an import declaration and who's responsible for the payment of duties and taxes. On shipping documents, this party would often be named a buyer or consignee. Both a business and a private person can be considered an importer. In most cases, the importer is also the owner of the goods being imported.

What is an exporter?

It's a person or company who sends goods to another country. Export is regulated by customs authorities of the country the goods are being shipped from.

What are customs?

They’re the authorities controlling the flow of goods into and out of a country. They’re responsible for enforcing a country’s import and export laws and regulations. They also collect any duties and taxes.

What is customs clearance?

It is a set of requirements and the process of taking goods through customs. It happens both when goods enter and exit a country or national territory. Customs clearance is a means to control and approve the movement of goods across borders.

What’s the first thing I need to check?

To begin with, ensure the goods you plan to import are permitted in your country. Bear in mind, that while some goods may be prohibited, others may only be allowed in limited quantities or under specific conditions. Find out if importing your goods requires certificates or licenses. Check your country's customs' website for detailed information on import restrictions and regulations.

How can I declare my goods?

In order to declare goods, you will need to submit a customs declaration. In most cases, this can be done electronically. Your carrier can usually take care of this for you, but you should check if this is possible before the goods are handed over to the carrier. If they can’t, you should appoint your own customs broker to perform the clearance.

What is a customs declaration?

A document that traditionally accompanies international shipments, the customs declaration includes information such as the nature of the goods, their value, the recipient and the shipment’s ultimate destination. Required for the export or import of goods, it accompanies all regulated goods being shipped under the appropriate permit. Customs declaration is also the process of declaring goods to customs.

What is a country of origin and why is it important?

The country of origin is where the product and its elements originate. This can be different from the country the goods are being shipped from. If your goods contain components sourced from different countries then make sure to check regulations about multiple countries of origin. Customs use the origin of goods to determine whether the trade in imported goods is subject to regulations and to assess the rates of duty and tax for your shipment.

What is an import license?

An import license is a document issued by the government bodies allowing companies and individuals to bring certain goods into its territory. Import licenses can be company and product-specific.

What are customs brokers and how can I find one?

They’re international trade experts responsible for preparing and clearing your goods through customs. You can usually find approved brokers on your country’s customs website or via a local association of customs brokers and freight forwarders. On the same website you should also check if you need a power of attorney, as some countries legally require it.

Are there different types of customs clearance?

Yes, there are different types of clearance depending on the goods, the value and destination country. To find out which one applies to your shipment, ask your carrier or check your country’s customs’ website. Bear in mind some clearances may take longer than others and require a customs broker.

What about duties and taxes?

Your carrier can usually tell you the amount of duties and taxes on a shipment. You pay these to your carrier before the goods arrive at customs, and they pay on your behalf. Or some carriers pay duties and taxes upfront and then recover them from you afterwards. You can learn more on our page about how duties and taxes are calculated.

When will my goods be released from customs?

After customs have processed the declaration, have checked everything is in order and received the payment for duties and taxes, they will release your goods into the country