Recovering import VAT

Produced by Tolley
Recovering import VAT

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

  • Recovering import VAT
  • Key principles
  • Evidence for claiming input tax
  • C79 ― monthly import VAT certificate
  • What information is shown on a C79?
  • C79 ― lost or missing certificates
  • Newly VAT registered businesses
  • Queries about C79 certificates
  • Recovering overpaid import VAT
  • Input tax claimed on agent’s / freight forwarder’s invoice
  • More...

Key principles

VAT is payable on goods imported into the UK from outside the EU unless the goods are currently zero-rated (eg books and newspapers, and certain items of children’s clothing). Please see the Overview ― zero-rating guidance note for more information.

Businesses importing goods into the UK for the purposes of their taxable business activities should be entitled to recover the import VAT paid. However, if the goods will be used for either non-business purposes, for exempt business activities or the input tax is specifically blocked under UK VAT legislation, the business may not be able to recover the import VAT incurred.

The monthly import VAT certificate (C79) is issued for goods imported under most customs procedures, and goods removed from a customs warehouse and the typical types of transactions included on a C79 are shown in the table below.

Evidence for claiming input tax

The evidence required in order to reclaim import VAT incurred depends on the nature of the import. The table below provides a brief overview of the supporting documentation that will be required in order to recover any import VAT paid:

Import procedureEvidence required to recover import VAT
Air / sea imports using a manually processed SAD document (C88)C79 certificate
Air / sea imports using trader input or computer processed SAD documentC79 certificate
Air / sea imports using a computer input SAD documentC79 certificate
Post entry corrections to SADC79 certificate
Removals from a customs warehouseC79 certificate
Removals from an excise warehouseC79 certificate
Hydrocarbon oilsC79 certificate
Air / sea bulk entries on an SADCustoms authenticated invoice
Registered consigneeCustoms authenticated invoice
Postal imports exceeding £873 (1,000 euros) and declared on an SADAuthenticated SAD copy 8
Postal imports not exceeding £873 (1,000 euros) (declared on Customs declaration form C1 or C2 / CPU)No evidence required.
See the Postal imports (rules until 31 December 2020) (rules until 31 December 2020) guidance note for more information
CN22 / CN23Importers must retain evidence of payment of import charges by retaining the customs charge label and

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