Recovering import VAT

By Tolley
Recovering import VAT

The following Value Added Tax guidance note 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
  • C79 ― lost or missing certificates
  • Newly VAT registered businesses
  • Queries about C79 certificates
  • Input tax claimed on agent’s / freight forwarder’s invoice
  • What happens if the importer is not the owner (or the sole owner) of the goods?
  • Evading import VAT

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.

VATA 1994, ss 16, 24; HMRC Notice 702 ; IMPS03100; VAT Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2518, regs 118, 119, 121

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

More on Buying goods from overseas: