Imports ― recovering import VAT

Produced by Tolley

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

  • Imports ― recovering import VAT
  • When can import VAT be recovered?
  • What are the evidence requirements for recovering import VAT?
  • What happens if the importer is not the owner (or the sole owner) of the goods?
  • Goods imported for private purposes
  • Goods imported by non-owners
  • Practical points ― recovering import VAT

Imports ― recovering import VAT

This guidance note looks at the rules around the recovery of import VAT.

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.

Guidance on the recovery of input tax generally is available in the What is input tax? guidance note.

In-depth commentary on the legislation and case law can be found in De Voil Indirect Tax Service V3.426.

When can import VAT be recovered?

Import VAT is treated as input tax for VAT recovery purposes where the import is used or will be used for business purposes. This means that import VAT is recoverable subject to broadly the same rules as if the VAT were incurred on domestic purchases. The rules around VAT recovery generally are set out in the What is input tax? and Claiming input tax guidance notes.

This guidance note covers issues that are specific to the recovery of import VAT, namely:

  1. the different evidence requirements for recovering import VAT

  2. VAT recovery issues specific to imports ― such as when goods are im

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