Imports to the UK

Imports into the UK continue to grow

In 2019, the value of UK imports exceeded US$692.5 billion according to Statista. Importing is big business and there are several options to be considered when importing into the UK.

Whatever option is chosen a considered approach is necessary as transportation costs can be a large percentage of your import budget. Any mistakes when importing goods into the UK can become very costly and time-consuming.

WTA Imports to. UK

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What modes of transport are best suited for your import requirements?

Before selecting your mode of transport it is beneficial to first investigate your budget and time frames.

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Sea Freight

When looking to import goods, sea freight is often viewed as the most cost-effective and most versatile in terms of the options available to you. Flexible transit times, routes, competitive rates and services that are tailored to your requirements utilising all of the carrier networks.

There are various options available to you. Either a 20ft/40ft/40ft high cube which you can fill if you have enough product. If you do not have enough to ship a full container, there are Less than Container Load (LCL) options available. Transit times will vary depending on what port you are using.

Premium Service from China to UK

Based on customer demand we have launched a premium service, whereby we will get you space on a vessel, as long as you provide us with a 4-6 week lead time. Let us take the complexity out of your sea freight shipments. Contact us today

Air Freight

If you importing goods that are small in quantity, high value or you need your goods urgently then air freight is the option for you. It is the more expensive option compared to sea freight.

They are several air freighting options available to you and more information can be found here.

Rail Freight

Currently, rail freight is becoming more and more popular especially from China. Transit times are faster than sea and are usually cheaper than air freight. More detailed rail freight information can be found here.

Rail freight is also a significantly more environmentally friendly method of transport than air or road freight. Railroads are roughly four times more fuel efficient than moving the same goods by truck.


Have you read our latest whitepaper?

The new wta group research report is here, examining the position China holds as the UK's biggest import partner, and whether UK businesses should be looking to diversify their supply chain.

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Import Whitepaper  (4)


When importing goods into the UK, you need to decide what incoterms are going to be best suited for your business. Incoterms are a standardised set of rules that define the rights and liabilities of both buyer and seller in an international transaction. Incoterms are prepared by the International Chamber of Commerce and include FOB, EXW, CIF, DDU etc. For more information on the Incoterms for 2021, click here.

Customs and compliance

When importing goods into the UK, understanding what the requirements are for customs and compliance is essential. Having your goods delayed at any UK port due to wrong paperwork can be incredibly expensive.

  • You will need an EORI number, and information on how to do this can be found here

  • A Commodity Code and information on how to secure the right commodity code can be found here

  • You will need to notify customs regarding the goods you are importing. A customs declaration will need to be filled out. This can be quite a complicated process, and we suggest that you find a provider who can handle your customs requirements for you, such as WTA UK who has direct access to the CDS system.

  • Check what the VAT and Duty are that needs to be paid on your goods. Information can be found here

  • Make sure you don’t need an imports licence, some goods can be restricted such as animal products, plants etc. and if they are you will need to apply for an imports licence.

If you need any further information on customs and compliance, please contact Andrew Jessup.

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One of the final aspects to take into consideration when importing goods into the UK is what happens to your goods at the destination. Will your goods be delivered door to door? Or will you need your goods stored in a secure warehousing facility?

An alternative option is that you store your goods at origin and only bring over the goods when required. Sometime this can be a cheaper alternative to costly warehousing in the UK. For origin warehousing to work you will need to ensure that your supply chain is as agile as possible.

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Get a Streamlined Solution

Speak to Justin

We strive to give you a solution that not only meets your transportation needs but also streamlines and enhances your business operations for greatest profit.

If you would like to learn more about how we can transform your imports into a beacon of efficiency, contact Justin Hope.

Meet Justin Hope Our Logistics Expert
Justin Hope