Imports ― import VAT suspension and reliefs

Produced by Tolley
  • (Updated for Budget 2021)
Imports ― import VAT suspension and reliefs

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

  • Imports ― import VAT suspension and reliefs
  • What is import VAT suspension and relief?
  • Import VAT suspensions
  • Storage (warehousing and free zones)
  • Freeports
  • Transit
  • Inward processing (IP)
  • Temporary admission
  • Import VAT reliefs
  • Practical points ― import VAT relief and suspension

This guidance note looks at the ways that import VAT can be delayed or suspended.

For importing goods from outside the UK generally, see the Imports ― overview (rules from 1 January 2021) guidance note. For movements of goods and Northern Ireland, see the Northern Ireland ― overview guidance note.

In-depth commentary on the legislation and case law can be found in De Voil Indirect Tax Service V3.315 to V3.351.

What is import VAT suspension and relief?

There are a number of ways that the liability to pay import VAT can either be delayed or removed altogether. Because import VAT is broadly charged as if it were import duty, there is significant crossover between VAT and customs rules in this area (although be wary that there are differences).

The following special customs procedures allow for the suspension of import VAT:

  1. storage

  2. transit

  3. inward processing (IP)

  4. temporary admission

T(CT)A 2018, Sch 2

In addition to these procedures allowing for suspension of import VAT, there are a number of reliefs from import VAT. As a general rule, import VAT will normally be chargeable at the same rate as if the goods were supplied in the UK. Therefore, the reliefs that apply to domestic supplies that are set out in the Zero-rating ― overview and the Overview ― items liable to VAT at the reduced rate guidance notes will normally also apply to imports. However, this will not always be the case and there are some specific import VAT reliefs that do not also apply to domestic supplies.

This guidance note deals primarily with the special customs procedures that apply to import VAT and the import VAT reliefs that differ from the reliefs that apply to domestic supplies.

Import VAT suspensions

The following paragraphs explain in general terms the customs special procedures that allow for the suspension of import VAT along with links to more detailed commentary and guidance on the scope and application of these procedures.

Storage (warehousing and free zones)

When goods are declared

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