Import customs procedures

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Import customs procedures
  • Approved places
  • Presenting the goods to Customs
  • Unloading and storing goods
  • Disposing of presented goods
  • Declaring goods
  • Community goods
  • Customs debt
  • Repayments and remission
  • Offences

This guidance note provides an overview of the rules that need to be followed by businesses or individuals who import goods into the Community (hereafter called the EU). It also provides an overview of who is responsible for paying any customs duties and import VAT due in respect of the imported goods.

HMRC Notice 199 ; De Voil Indirect Tax Service V17.156 (subscription sensitive); UCC ; Commission Implementing Regulation (EC) 2015/2447 ; Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 (DA) 

This note has been updated to reflect the changes introduced when the Union Customs Code was introduced with effect from the 1 May 2016.

Approved places

When the goods are imported into the EU the importer must ensure that the goods are delivered directly to a place approved by the local customs authority. This will normally be an approved wharf for goods imported by sea: for goods imported by air they must land at an approved airport. It should be noted that certain airports can only deal with the importation of certain types of goods, so the importer should ascertain whether they can import their goods at their chosen airport before the goods are transported. A list of the approved places can be found in the Tariff, Volume 3, appendix C2. Importers can also contact the Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700 for details of approved places in the UK.

If the goods are imported via a pipeline or similar, the importer must contact their customs control officer to discuss the correct procedure that needs to be followed.

When the goods are in the process of being imported it is possible that they could be stored in temporary storage in one of the following:

  • inland clearance depot
  • transit shed
  • remote transit shed

More on Customs and international trade: