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Moving to the UK

Important Customs Information to Know Before Shipping to the UK

What You Should Know Before Shipping to the UK

Most countries have rules and regulations surrounding the importation of various goods, and the UK is no exception. If you are moving overseas, it is important to understand the customs information before you leave or ship items there. This will save you from a lot of stress and hassle that often comes with shipping items that come with charges or may even be banned in the UK. Here is what you need to know.

Customs Charges

Those who are shipping goods from outside the EU will be prone to taxes and fees on their items. This includes a customs charge and VAT. There is also an excise tax, although this is for alcohol and tobacco only.

When shipping, all items must be declared. A value must be placed on the shipment/items as this is what helps customs officers determine whether or not a duty is to be paid and how much. Value of goods also includes the posting, packaging and any insurance paid.

A customs declarations form must be filled out completely and signed. Anything not filled out correctly may result in a delay of getting your goods. Overseas Packers and Shippers can assist in any paperwork to ensure it is fully filled out to help prevent any delay.

Failing to follow the UK’s regulations on customs can result in having your goods seized. This may also come with a hefty fine. It is important that you declare everything, even if you believe it may be on the banned/restricted list.

Customs duty is charged at 2.5% for anything valued at £135-£630 and varies depending on the item(s) for anything valued above that. You can get a better idea on how much you will be expected to pay on your goods on the HM Revenue and Customs page or contact Overseas Packers and Shippers for some help.

If you feel you have paid too much, you can apply for a refund.

Duty-Free Goods

There are a few items that are duty-free for those coming from outside the EU. This includes:
• One litre of spirits
• 200 cigarettes
• Up to £390-worth of other items.
These must be stated for personal use or as a gift. However, as stated above, the shipment may still be susceptible to VAT. Anything over the duty-free allowance should be declared.
If you have any single item that is over the £390 allowance, you must pay duty on the full amount, not just the full amount minus £390.


Goods that are worth more than £15 are subject to VAT. The current VAT rate in the UK 20%. VAT is determined by the value of the item, postage, packaging, and insurance costs, and customs duty owed.

Banned and Restricted Items

There are a few items you cannot bring into the UK under any circumstances. There is a strict ban on illegal drugs and weapons, but the list also includes:

• Obscene material
• Rough diamonds
• Endangered plants or animals.

Dairy and meat products, as well as potatoes from outside the EU, are also banned.

Organic Products

All products deemed organic should be declared as such and must follow the EU’s legislation on importing organic goods. This is due to the absence of the use of pesticides to ensure the items do not bring any unwanted pests into the UK. Certain imported products from Australia and New Zealand have no import restrictions due to an existing “equivalence agreement” between the UK and these countries. This does not cover all organic products though. To find out more on which of your items can be brought under the equivalence agreement, you will need to contact the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Overseas Packers and Shippers Makes it Easier

Overseas Packers and Shippers specialise in shipping goods abroad. We’re experts in handling customs requirements, including the paperwork that comes with it, leaving you without worry about any confusing jargon. If you’re thinking of shipping to the UK or anywhere else abroad, let Overseas Packers and Shippers do the hard work for you, including the packing of goods and seeing them arriving safely with all appropriate paperwork to the UK and other locations around the world.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote on your packing and shipping needs.