Importing goods from outside the EU

24 Jun 2016 2 min read

Whether you’re ordering or sending a package from a country outside the EU, there are a number of things you’ll need to take into consideration before you import your goods.

Import declarations

All goods being imported from countries outside of the EU must be declared to HMRC in a Single Administrative Document (SAD) – also known in the UK as form C88 – which is then submitted electronically to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. This is the part of HMRC that deals with risk assessment and the legitimacy of goods.


While the movement of goods between EU countries is usually free, importing from non-EU nations has some costs attached to it. You’ll need to pay VAT and import duty – plus VAT on your import duty – to HMRC on all your goods. The amount you pay will depend on the classification of your goods under the UK Trade Tariff.

The only way to avoid paying VAT or duty on goods from non-EU countries is through customs warehousing. This is where your goods remain in a warehouse where duty and VAT payments are suspended, and cannot be removed unless duty is paid or they are exported elsewhere.

How can Parcelforce Worldwide help me import goods?

Parcelforce Worldwide offers a straightforward door-to-door service for customers receiving packages in the UK from abroad. Whether you’re ordering or sending items, you are legally responsible for any import charges as well as ensuring the information on the Customs Declaration is correct. Our service works like this:

  • If a parcel is sent to you from outside the EU, we present your parcel to Border Force, who will clear the goods on behalf of HMRC.
  • We will make a payment on your behalf to HMRC for any relevant import duty, excise duty and VAT.
  • In order to receive your parcel, you must repay this sum to us, plus our own clearance fee.
  • Upon receipt of full payment, we will deliver the item(s) to you at your UK address – you can select how and when you would like your parcel(s) to be delivered.

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