Top 5 Tips for Importing to the UK

Here are what we consider are the 6 most important things to consider before importing goods to the UK.


#1 – Know Your Shipping Terms

For a first timer, shipping terms may be un-heard of. These are how you and your supplier split the responsibility for the shipment. We would advise the below:

  • Try to buy your goods on FOB or Ex Works terms. These are the best ways of controlling your costs as the final price is clear from the outset.
  • Avoid CIF/CFR terms (where your supplier sends the goods to the UK), particularly for part container loads, your costs can spiral out of control.

#2 – Check UK Duties & Taxes

UK Duties & Taxes can be complicated, and we’re happy to advise on anything in relation to them, but it is always good to know these things:

  • What is the tariff code for your product? This will give you the duty percentage payable.
  • Is there any relief on Duty & VAT via the GSP scheme? If you are importing from countries such as India you may be entitled.
  • Are there any Anti-dumping / countervailing duties on your product? There can be anti-dumping duty on products like bicycles or crockery and the percentage could be up to and beyond 100%.

#3 – Select the Mode of Transport

Which method will you use to ship your cargo? Is Sea or Air Freight for you?

  • Is the product lightweight and valuable? Air freight may not be a bad option for you if so.
  • Is the product bulky and heavy? Air freight can be very expensive for products like this.
  •  How urgent is the shipment? If you can wait 6 weeks you could make a substantial saving!
  • If you only have a small shipment (less than about 100kg) a courier may be a better option.

#4 – Check Delivery Details

Delivery requirements are an important thing to consider. The last thing you want is to have waited 6 weeks for a delivery, only to have to turn it away because the truck is too big, or the goods are too heavy to off load by hand!

  • Do you need timed delivery? If you work certain hours, you may need a delivery before or after.
  •  Do you need a tail lift? If goods are heavy and you don’t have access to a fork lift… this may be your best option for unloading if you don’t have a few extra pairs of hands!
  •  Is there access for larger vehicles or will you need a small truck? Perhaps a 7.5t?

#5 – Do your Calculations

It is vital that you have done your calculations before progressing with your order. The costs of an import do not stop at goods and shipping, be sure you know your margins and landed costs. You should consider:

  • Product Cost – Has your supplier quoted to sell you the goods on the desired shipping term?
  • Duty & Taxes – Do you know how much UK Duty and VAT you will pay on your items?
  • Shipping Costs – Have you got a quote on the correct shipping term and is it to your door?
  • Transit Time – Bear in mind that sea freight can take 6 weeks for delivery after the goods are ready?

We hope you enjoyed this brief tips post and found it worthwhile. If you enjoy these information blasts, sign up to our newsletter – and don’t forget to share!

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