How to Import to the UK

For businesses, the ability to ship goods internationally has opened the door to endless opportunities. But, it has also opened a Pandora’s Box of questions in regards to where to ship in or out of. What is the best country to ship to? Why should you import goods? What are the benefits of exporting internationally?

One of the most important factors to the success of your shipment is identifying the perfect market for your products. And, when looking for viable countries in which to offer your goods, it’s hard to go past the United Kingdom.

A champion of industry and consumerism, the UK has one of the most active markets in the world. And, with a soaring population and incredible diversity, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to centre their business there.

But how do you go about it? How do you import goods into the UK?

At WTA, we are UK shipping experts and have over a century of experience of handling imports into the UK. As such, we know that in order to achieve a successful shipment, it is vital that you organise all necessary paperwork and documentation. This will ensure that your goods arrive on time and to their intended destination.

Here are some of the factors you must account for before you begin your importing endeavours.

Find the Correct Commodity Code

One of the first steps in importing goods into the UK is to discover the correct commodity code that applies to your items. The commodity code is what determines what taxes and duties you pay, and any licence or quota requirements you pay for your goods to be brought into the country, so it’s vital that it is accurate. If they are not, HM Revenue and Customs can fine you, as well as potentially hold or seize your goods - resulting in delays and unwanted additional costs.

Account for VAT

The VAT, or Value-Added Tax, will need to be paid in most cases on the goods you wish to bring into the UK. 

Obtain a EORI Number

The Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme (EORI) is a number you must have if you trade or carry out customs activities in the European Union. Assigned by a customs authority, the EORI number is used in any communications with a EU customs agents when a customs identifier is needed - for example, when declaring your goods. 

Having an EORI is essential to enhancing the level of security implemented by the government when importing goods into the UK, and is a key part of the importing process.

To learn more on EORI numbers and to check if you require one, you can find more information here. 


Paying Duty when Importing to the UK

Depending on your particular situation, you might be required to pay a duty tax on your imported goods. This all depends on how your goods are classified, and how they will be used. However, if your goods are produced in the European Union, no duty will be needed.


In some instances, the goods you import into the UK may be restricted. Nations such as Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and the USA all have unique restrictions on what goods you can import. Before beginning your shipping endeavours, explore whether the region you are importing from is subject to any of these restrictions.

If you account for all of the above factors, you will be well on your way towards an efficient and timely shipment.

However, if you are new to shipping or aren’t sure where to start, the team at WTA would be happy to help. We are seasoned experts in importing goods into the UK and can help you to optimise your shipments to give you the best return on investment.

Learn more about how we can help you, or to kick-start your shipping process, download our free International Shipping Checklist.

DOWNLOAD the FREE International Shipping Checklist