Customs Clearance FAQs
Phone: +44 (0) 20 8988 8068
Looking for a complete, comprehensive customs clearance service?
With import and export services from over 1000 origins and destinations, and innovative IT services, we facilitate efficient customs clearance for shipments arriving at all major UK ports and airports, including Felixstowe, East Midlands, Birmingham, Southampton among others.
We are specialists in all types of customs entry allowing us to give you expert advice relating to: Customs’ regulations, duty and vat, Port Health requirements including phytosanitary and health certificates, CED, CVED and PEACH applications, preferences, quota, EORI and Carnets.
‘A huge thank you to Unsworth UK for the customs clearance expertise and guidance provided on our shipment from China to the UK. As first time importers, your customer service and advice was extremely beneficial and saved us a lot of time and hassle’
We have put together a list of some of the most frequent questions that our customers ask us.
- What is Customs Clearance?
- Why should I use a Customs Clearance agent?
- Where can you complete Customs Clearance in the UK?
- How do we Customs clear cargo in other ports?
- How long does Customs Clearance take?
- What supporting documentation do I require?
- Who decides how much import duties and taxes I have to pay?
- How can I pay for import duties and taxes?
- Where can I find more information on Customs?
- What happens after Customs clearance?
- I am importing for the first time – How can I check the products I will import are allowed into the EU?
- I am moving my personal effects/ moving abroad, what do I do?
- Can I import foodstuffs?
What is Customs Clearance?
Customs Clearance is a process compulsory for all goods entering or leaving the EU. Customs clearance allows HM Customs & Excise to account for any due charges, ensure correct documentation has been used and conformity to EU law. It also allows Customs to monitor which goods are coming into or leaving the UK.
Customs agents are there to facilitate a professional service between HM Customs & Excise and importers/exporters. Our agents have significant understanding the Customs rules and regulations applicable and are therefore best suited to provide assistance.
Airports: London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, London Stansted Airport, London City Airport, London Luton Airport, Birmingham, East Midlands Airport, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Edinburgh.
Sea Ports: Any UK port including Felixstowe, London Gateway, Southampton, Grangemouth, Tilbury, Thames port, Dover and Greenock.
We are based in central London with representatives at ports around the world. Thanks to changes in technology, remote access to other port community systems around the coasts of the UK is possible from one location.
The Customs Clearance process can vary from shipment to shipment, and is dependent on what goods are entering the country, once goods have entered the UK port. Certain products may need additional documentation checks or a physical examination to ensure that declarations are correct.
- Shipping document ( Bill of Lading – original or telex)
- Supplier’s commercial invoice
- Packing list
Other documentation required for specific goods would be:
- Certificate of Origin
- Preference Certificates
- Health certificates ( for foodstuffs etc )
- Organic certificate
Note: Importers should check before they ship if any special documentation is required.
All goods are classified into commodity codes. The duty and VAT amount vary for each commodity. Importers are responsible for the classification of the codes. However, if you need advice you can call 03000588454.
Further information on Customs clearance, their rules and regulations, service standards and details of your local Customs clearance office can be found on their website: www.gov.uk/starting-to-import
What happens after Customs clearance?
I am importing for the first time – How do I know the products I will import are allowed into the EU?
Some commodities, firearms and explosives for example, cannot be imported into the EU unless by an authorised person. If you have any doubts about whether your goods are approved in the EU, feel free to contact us prior to shipment.
Details of restricted goods can be found on the UK Customs website: www.gov.uk/guidance/import-controls. Alternatively, please check with a member of our experienced team who would be happy to assist.
In order to attain VAT and duty relief for personal effects upon import, specific conditions must be met. If you have recently returned to the UK, lived overseas for a minimum of one year, and have owned the goods for 6 months, no VAT and duty are required. Goods can still be imported if they do not fall under these criteria but duty and VAT may be applicable.
If you are importing a car, the relief of VAT and duty will depend on the purpose of the vehicle.
The majority of foodstuffs are okay to import when accompanied by relevant official documentation. Certain food items would need additional documentation to be lodged with port health. Importers are required to ensure all documents are in place before goods are imported.