Shipping & Mail Forwarding to the United Kingdom

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Clearance Process
When imported goods arrive to the location of unloading, the goods must be 'presented' to customs by the person who brought them into the EC or the person who assumes responsibility for their onward carriage (this includes
Freight and Air carriers, shipping and aircraft lines).
Goods can only be 'presented' to customs when they have actually arrived at the place of unloading

Goods may be presented by :

Using an approved computerised trade inventory system linked to customs  or lodging a Form C1600A at the designated customs office. After presentation the goods must be covered by a summary declaration containing the information needed to identify the goods. In the UK the prescribed form of summary declaration is Form C1600 however, Customs may accept commercial documents or computer records if they contain the necessary details. Acceptable Commercial documents are:

bills of lading

air way-bills

container manifests

load lists manifests

consignment records (on computerised inventory systems)

All goods exported from or imported into the UK from non-member state of the EC must be declared to Customs. When goods are imported it is the responsibility of the importer or his authorized agent to declare them to customs. In most cases a Single Administrative Document (SAD) is used for this purpose. A Single Administrative Document (SAD) is a customs document that you are required to complete, whether exporting, importing or transporting 'goods in transit' in countries in the European Union, the European Free Trade Area (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norwayand Iceland). It is designed to standardize customs entry procedures and is in fact used by many countries through out the world.

Working with Customs officials throughout the world, FedEx has developed innovative technology to eliminate many paperwork-handling steps and expedite the movement of international shipments. This is the FedEx Expressclear electronic Customs clearance system. Starting at the origin, state-of-the-art technology allows the processing of shipment paperwork and electronic transmission of documents to the designated FedEx hub and destination clearance location. The Expressclear system also keeps a database of regulatory information which includes importers numbers, broker designation, corporate contact names and telephone numbers. At a FedEx hub, international shipments are sorted, scanned and loaded onto an international flight. Vital shipment information is keyed into a worldwide manifest database, which is linked to computer systems operated by brokers and Customs officials in many countries. Even before the plane has taken off, or while it is in the air, Customs agents and brokers at the destination airport of entry can begin examining shipping manifests, querying air waybill data if they need more details, assessing duties and taxes and selecting which shipments they wish to examine. By the time the plane arrives at his destination, many packages have already been cleared by Customs. As the plane is unloaded, the Expressclear system identifies packages to be examined and prints "cleared" Customs labels for all others. Cleared shipments can be transferred to trucks for immediate delivery. International shipments are scanned at all key points throughout the process and allows for up-to-date status reports including when Customs clearance is obtained.




Document Requirements
Bills of Lading - No special regulations Consular Invoices - None

Certificates of Origin - Certificates of Origin are required for the importation of any Textile products. Exceptions include mutilated samples, luggage made up of textile materials, Canvas bags, Gifts, Personal Effects.

Commercial Invoices - Invoices are required for all shipments with a value exceeding 18 pounds Sterling. Invoices should show freight, insurance and similar charges as separate items when applicable, regardless of the INCOTERM used on the transaction.

Dangerous Goods Certification - Some goods will in addition to the standard documentation noted above, may require DG certification. IE: Perfumes, Liquor, Chemicals, etc.

C3 - This form applies to the importation of qualifying personal effects in order that tax relief may be claimed. It is used in the following circumstances:

  • private individuals moving home to the United Kingdom
  • moving for the purpose of marriage to the United Kingdom
  • foreign students engaged in a study program in the United Kingdom

C2 - This form applies to the importation of qualifying personal effects in order that tax relief may be claimed. It is used in the following circumstances:

  • Foreign military personal temporarily moving home to the United Kingdom on assignment
Valuation Declaration and General Valuation Statement (GVS)

Required for import on any taxable shipment where the customs value exceeds 6,500 Pounds Sterling. There are three different valuation declarations. The first is form C105A which is to be used by an Importer that is unrelated to the Seller and for which the transaction value qualifies to be used for duty purposes. The second is the form C105B which is used for transactions between related parties as well as where the declared value does not qualify as the value to be used for duty purposes. The third form C109 which is a general valuation statement and can be used to provide valuation information that is lodged with customs avoiding the need to have to complete either 105A or B for each importation. Individual C109 forms are required from the importer for each supplier they have and are useful to importers of large quantities.

All documents presented for use in customs clearance processing should be prepared in English, to avoid delays and expedite clearance processing.


Customs Valuation
Valuation for Ad Valorem customs duty purposes

The methods of assessing value to be declared on import  entries of goods subject to ad valorem duty are laid down in EC Regulations 2913/92,2454/93 and 1762/95. This value is arrived at by applying one of the methods listed below, in the sequence shown. However at the importer's request, the order of application of Methods 4 and 5 can be reversed.

Valuation Method 1- the transaction value of the imported goods (the price paid or payable for these goods)

Valuation Method 2- the transaction value of identical goods; (i.e..e. goods which are the same in all respects including physical characteristics, quality and reputation)

Valuation Method 3- the transaction value of similar goods; (i.e..e. goods which have like characteristics and component materials which enable them to perform the same functions)

Valuation Method 4-the deductive method (the value of identical similar goods in the EC)

Valuation Method 5-the computed value (the value based on the built-up cost of the imported goods)

Valuation Method 6-the fall back method (the value based on reasonable means constituent with valuation principles)


Import Duties
Most goods imported are subject to Ad Valorem Duty and Value Added Tax. Rates of duty vary and are based on the commodity type and country of origin. Duty is based on the cost of insurance and freight value √ā

Below is a summary of the new rules for EU deminimis value that enter into effect December 1, 2008:

  • A commercial shipment up to 18 UKL: no duty and no VAT collected.
  • A commercial shipment over 18 UKL and up to 120 UKL: no duty but VAT is collected.
  • A commercial shipment over 120 UKL: duty and VAT are collected.

An anti-dumping duty (ADD) is a customs duty on imports providing a protection against the dumping of goods in the EC at prices substantially lower than the normal value.  In most cases, this is the price which the foreign producer charges for comparable sales in the producer's own country. Each anti-dumping duty covers specified goods, originating in or exported from, named countries or exporters. Anti-dumping duty is chargeable in addition to , and independent of, any other duty to which the imported goods are liable.

Anti Dumping duties can be either provisional (imposed initially for 6 months and possibly extended for another 3 months) or definitive (imposed for 5 years with an option to review).


Excise Duties
Excisable Products The following products imported are subject to additional excise duties.

  1. Alcohol (Beer, Wine, Spirits, etc.)
  2. Hydrocarbon Oils (Diesel, Petrol, etc.)
  3. Tobacco Products (Cigarettes, Cigars, etc.)
Excisable products imported from other members states of the European Union will be subject to excise duty with the exception of alcohol which will also be liable for VAT, payable at the same time as the excise duty.

Excisable products imported from outside the European Union will be subject to regular custom duties, VAT & excise duty.

Additional Duties
Countervailing Duty

A countervailing duty is a customs duty on goods which have received government subsidies in the originating or exporting country.  For customs purposes, it is treated in the same way as anti-dumping duty.  It is possible to have both anti-dumping and countervailing duty on a product.

Other Additional Duties

There are additional duties charged above and beyond the normal duty rate, VAT and Excise taxes for certain commodities. Currently the UK does assess additional duties for Sugar, Sugar products and items containing sugar.

Import Taxes
Value Added Tax (VAT)

Most goods imported are subject to Value Added Tax. Value Added Tax is either zero, 5.0% (applicable specifically to antiques and original works of art) or 17.5% and is determined by the commodity type.Value Added Tax is payable on the sum of the cost, insurance, freight value plus the duty amount payable.

As a general rule, imported goods from non-EU countries (third countries) are subject to VAT at the same rate as applies to the sale within the State of similar goods.

The value of imported goods for the purpose of VAT is their value for customs purposes increased by:

  1. The amount of any duty or other tax payable in relation to their importation (but not including VAT or Vehicle Registration Tax); and

  2. Onward transportation costs to the place of final destination in the Community (if known at the time of importation).

Customs Fees
Regulatory Examination Fees Additional fees can be assessed on some commodities to cover the expense of performing the examinations and or testing required as a condition of the goods entry into the commerce of the UK. There are specific examination fees for Animal Products which may affect such commodities as cosmetics, drugs and medicines. Plant products may also be liable to charge if examined or reported under Plant Health (DEFRA) requirements.


Exchange Controls
There are no exchange controls.

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, go to the WTO website at

Consular Fees
There are no consular fees.

Import Clearance Process
Customs clearance is generally done electronically through the "Direct Trader Input" (DTI) by the broker performing the clearance. Entry information is sent to the CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) the central customs computer. There are four entry types used for clearance in the United Kingdom. The specific entry requirement is determined based on the shipment value, approved use, commodity type, and licensing or other controls and as well as reason for importation.  

General Import Entry Types

  • SAD (Single Administrative Document)
  • SPIC (Simplified Procedure for Import Clearance)
  • C21 Customs Clearance Request
  • WRD (Warehouse Removal Declaration)
  • SFD (Simplified Frontier Declaration)
  • FSD (Final Supplementary Declaration)
  • SDI (Supplementary Declaration for Imports)
  • SDW (Supplementary Declaration for Customs Warehouse Removals)
There are four common entry types:

The first entry type is a formal entry submitted on a C88 or SAD as it is otherwise known (Single Administrative Document).

The secondary entry type is a Supplementary Declaration determined by the commodity.

Third is an entry called a C21, which is used to clear documents as well as low value commodities on which tax will not be assessed.

The fourth is a trader (importer) CFSP entry which is similar to the former period entry system and for which the trader has to be prior authorised for use by customs. (This requires a simplified declaration by FedEx raised in association with the traders referencing system. When entry information is sent to CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) the central  customs computer will process the input data and send back a response to the agent giving the shipment a "routing". The routing is important as it determines how long it will take for the shipment to clear. There are four major routings, Route 1,2,3 and 6

  • Shipments selected, as Route 1 will require formal examination of the documentation by a customs officer prior to release.
  • Route 2 entries will require formal examination of both the paperwork as well as a physical examination of the contents of the shipment.
  • Route 3 is an automatic clearance at the end of what is called a time out period. The time out period is a period afforded to customs to enable them to re-select or query an entry. This period varies from port to port as well as agent to agent. As a rough guide this period can vary from 1hr 40 minutes down to 15 minutes in some cases.
  • Route 6 is the last common "routing" and is principally a computerised time-out and non-presentation format (the agent archives the entry until customs request a copy.

The following is a general guide to when each entry type may be used:

  • C21-Low value imports and documents valued up to 18.00 Pounds Sterling except for commodities subject to excise duty such as tobacco products, commodities having an alcohol or spirit content, hydrocarbon oils, etc.
  • C88 or SAD-Shipments valued 18.00 Pounds Sterling and upwards as well as any shipments below 600.00 Pounds Sterling being imported under a special regime, requiring controls or special documentation. There is a provisional proposal under Government consideration to increase an EU duty relief for shipments of a value of 150 Euros or less. This is under consideration for implementation effective 01/12/08.
  • CFSP Trader Input requires a simplified declaration raised on the importer's behalf after which approved users must account to customs fully for all imports during the previous calendar month at the end of each month.

Local Import Control Clearance
Certain approved importers, operate a clearance procedure known as "Local Import Control". Under the Local Import Control Procedure all shipments are released without delay following Customs preventative checks and the submission of a basic summary customs entry. The supplementary (formal) entry and accounting for taxes takes place at a later date. All supplementary entries for shipments customs cleared under Local Import Control Procedure must be completed and submitted to customs by the 4th day of the following calendar month. Clearance under certain customs regimes as well as commodities requiring specific documentation are not approved for clearance under the Local Import Control arrangements. These include the following:

  1. Commodities, whose movement is regulated by the requirements to provide an import license, import permit or certificate. This restriction  applies to shipments requiring a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) import permit, Certificate of Origin, etc.
  2. Goods subject to immediate Accounting: Shipments being imported under any import regime whereby duty and tax is required to be placed on deposit such as temporary importation.
  3. Goods requiring specific document checks: Customs require certain additional documentation to be provided at the time of arrival for certain shipments (e.g. Phytosanitary declarations). These shipments may be subject to clearance delays.
  4. Goods for importers who do not want their goods released under the Local Import Control Procedure.

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