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United Kingdom

Import customs procedures in United Kingdom

Customs threshold (De Minimis Value)

VAT is charged on all goods. Customs duty is payable when the value of the imported goods is over GBP 135.

Standard VAT rate: 

20% for most goods and services

Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products):

From 1 January 2021, the UK apply a UK-specific tariff to imported goods.  This UK Global Tariff (UKGT) will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff, which applies until 31 December 2020.
Use the UK Global Tariff tool to check the tariffs that will apply to goods you import from 1 January 2021. The existing commodity code system will continue to apply from 1 January 2021 onwards.

More detailed Customs tariffs can be found at this government website.

Customs Classification

The UK HS  Tariff Code helps to find commodity names with codes for exporting and importing  goods. In order to find a HS code, it is possible to use the Trade Tariff tool, which will show you the import and export codes, and any information connected to the code, such as: if you need a license to move your goods or if there’s a tariff quota.

Method of Payment of Custom Duties

Recipient can pay duty and tax  by credit card, check or cash to the appointed carrier. Please follow the instruction provided by the Carrier.

For shipment with Delivery Duty Prepaid (DDP) term, Spaceship will charge back the duty, tax and tax handling fee from the appointed carrier. 

Specific Import Procedures

Import License: Customs may require an import license for certain products such as food, medical product , depending on the harmonised tariff code. The importer must obtain the import license from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

An original export license from the exporter of the country or territory of origin might be necessary to obtain the import license. The requirement of an import license is dependent on the country or territory of origin of the goods, not the country or territory of export.

Commodity Specific Stipulations


Spaceship recommend to ship non-commercial shipments / gift shipments ( purchased by private individuals for private consumption) in accordance to below principles:

  • State the purpose of gift clearly ( e.g Chinese New Year gift)
  • Send from an individual person to an individual person
  • Appropriately package and indicate each type of animal product, quantity/ weight, the country or territory of origin and manufacturer 
  • Dried seafood and seafood products (with intestines and organs removed) - max. 2KG per shipment

Below are some examples of food not accepted by Spaceship:

  1. Frozen food
  2. Meat or meat product 
  3. Chinese, Milk or milk-based products, except powdered infant milk, infant food or special food (including pet food) needed for medical reasons
  4. Egg or food with egg  ( except for sweets and chocolates )
  5. Live animals
  6. Raw food 
  7. Endangered species 
  8. Bird's nest
  9. Ginseng 
  10. Perishable goods
  11. Seeds 
  12. Plant with soil
  13. Potatoes
  14. Honey
  15.  Chilli and chilli products
  16. Curcuma
  17. Curry Powder
  18. Palm oil
  19. Turmeric

All food should be appropriately packaged and labelled, indicating the nature, ingredients, quantity/ weight, the country or territory of origin and manufacturer.

Any non-compliant shipment must be returned at shippers expense immediately.

Any foodstuff sent as samples for testing purposes or commercial purpose, can only be imported without a relevant permit/license from the official authority. The permit/license must be sent to Spaceship and let us verify it before shipping.  Delays and additional charges for food inspection at customs may be incurred. 

Food Supplements

Depending on their substances of content food supplements might be classified as medicine. Vitamin and mineral supplements are usually not classified as medicine, whether they are supplied in pill, capsule, powder or liquid form. Please note MSDS is required for shipping liquid product.


Pet food containing animal products may be imported into the United Kingdom if an original Health Certificate from the country or territory of origin is provided, or if the importer provides an import license from the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). However, pet foods from certain countries or territories may not be accepted to the United Kingdom, dependant on DEFRA regulations at the time of import. Any non compliant shipment must be returned at shipper's expense immediately.


Alcoholic Beverages and Wine

It is important to note that most courier companies do not ship alcohol internationally. Each courier has specific rules and requirements for different shipments and services, so we recommend checking this further with us.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not considered as documents and would normally be imported under tariff 8523210000 (cards incorporating a magnetic strip) which is at 20% VAT.

However, if the consignment value is less than 15.00 GBP, it would be entered on the low value manifest free of import taxes.

Always provide a shipping invoice irrespective of shipment value.

This also applies to Debit Cards.


CD Roms

Shipper should indicate the value of the Recording Media (eg. CDR/DVD) & the Intellectual/statistical value of the software/data separately. The intellectual value is not subject to duty or VAT. This applies only for business software. Computer games are excluded.



The invoice must include a description of the part, the machine for which the part will be used, and a list of the part's components. If parts are sent for ships or aircraft in transit, the invoice should indicate "goods in transit".



In order to avoid wrong customs declarations at import, it is mandatory that the exporter provide very detailed information about the shoes (for example, what kind of leather, what material used for soles and uppers, what kind of shoes (sport shoes, sandals, boots), who is to wear the shoes (children, women, men).



The invoice must list the value of the blank media separately from the value of the data or software.Test ReagentMost of modern test reagents for diagnostic research are built on antibodies which are generated from animal tissue. There are two types of antibodies, the monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal antibodies.



The country or territory of origin must be stated on the invoice for each invoice line. If the customs authorities doubt the correctness of the declared country or territory of origin they may request an additional proof which might be a certificate of origin.


USB Sticks

Data shipments require an invoice with the character of the USB stick (storing inter-company data) and the value of the USB Stick.



Last Updated On : 10, Aug 2022

Disclaimer: Information provided by Spaceship is provided as is, may not be current, and does not constitute legal advice. In no event shall Spaceship be liable for any errors in the information, forms or features made available by Spaceship, or by any third party site linked to from Spaceship. Selection and completion of proper declaration for any given shipment is the sole responsibility of the shipper. All shipments are subject to the Spaceship Terms.