In recent years, the number of businesses actively selling products and services online has increased significantly. eCommerce is now a thriving sector and an integral part of our daily lives. If you sell products online, you must be familiar with international shipping. Here, we will examine customs clearance for UK eCommerce merchants and how a customs clearance agency UK can help you with importing and exporting goods across borders.

Customs clearance definition

Customs clearance is the movement of goods through customs to enter the importing country. When your customers complete an online purchase, your international shipment must clear customs before it can be delivered to them. It is required for all goods entering or leaving a country, making it an essential aspect of international business.

The process necessitates submitting comprehensive import and export documentation, paying VAT, duties, and any additional fees, such as customs officer testing or storage. Commercial invoices, packing slips, and shipping labels are also essential documents for customs clearance.

You can obtain additional information on customs clearance, the rules and regulations, and your local office responsible for customs clearance by visiting the official website.

What is the role of a customs clearance agency in UK?

Organising everything necessary for customs clearance can be intimidating for business owners new to importing or exporting goods. However, everything should go smoothly if you are meticulous and methodical in your documentation and fully compliant with the authority’s requirements.

To achieve such compliance, you need experts from a customs clearance agency in UK, who will assist you and act as a conduit in between. The customs clearance agents have the knowledge and experience to ensure that you pay the correct duty and tax amount and apply for any discounts on which your goods or circumstances may qualify.

The fees for customs clearance agents vary and may include brokerage, storage, and late payments.

Should I hire a customs clearance agency in UK?

Customs clearance should be straightforward if you enlist a third-party customs clearance agency in UK.

Although a customs clearance agency UK is not required by law for customs clearance, using one will help your business in the long run by saving you time and money. This is because when documentation errors occur, customs clearance can be delayed by several days. Additionally, using a customs broker will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business, such as enhancing your product or service and expanding your customer base.

Getting customs clearance in the UK

If you want to prepare your business for cross-border trade, you must first decide whether you will make the customs declaration, or use a customs clearance agency in UK to obtain the necessary commodity codes, calculate the value of your goods, and determine if a licence or certificate is required.

How long does it take to clear customs for UK merchants?

The customs procedure in the United Kingdom differs depending on the shipment. If goods require additional documentation or a physical inspection by a customs officer to ensure compliance, the process could take several days.

To avoid delays that could negatively impact their business, many merchants employ an expert from a customs clearance agency in UK.

Comparatively, UK customs are not as stringent as, say, Chinese customs, so the required customs clearance should be completed quickly if there are no issues.

What documentation do I need to clear UK customs?

The documentation requirements vary from country to country. You may be required to provide the following:

  • The export documentation, which includes a commercial invoice, purchase order, packing list, bill of lading or airway bill, and a certificate of origin.
  • Import documentation consisting of a purchase order, an invoice from the supplier, a packing list, an air waybill or bill of lading, and a certificate of origin.

If any information, such as a commodity code, is missing from these documents, you must add it separately.

What additional documents may I require?

Depending on the commodity code, you may be required to submit additional documentation before exporting or importing goods, such as food and plant health certificates.

Certain commodities require an import or export licence, allowing governments to restrict the number of goods that can enter or leave a country during a given period. Different government departments distribute these licences based on the goods in question.

In addition, you must include any additional documentation required by the buyer or the letter of credit terms.

The Trade Tariff lookup service will assist you in locating the applicable commodity codes, duties, and VAT rates for your products.

How much do I need to pay as customs fees, and how do I make the payment?

Here, we will examine the duties and taxes associated with the customs clearance procedure and a few situations where you can reduce costs.

How much are taxes and customs duties in the UK?

Duty – This tax is a percentage of a product’s value, as determined by its commodity code and associated duty rating. The country levies it on all imported goods.

VAT – This is typically assessed based on the purchase price, the shipping costs, and the duty. The VAT rate varies from country to country but is currently 20% in the United Kingdom.

When am I exempt from paying duties and taxes?

Items that meet the below conditions can be imported into the United Kingdom duty and tax-free:

  • Bonded storage facilities
  • Importing specimens with no commercial value beyond testing
  • Transit flights whose destination is not the United Kingdom
  • When goods are to be re-exported, inward processing relief is available
  • Returned goods that were initially exported from the United Kingdom

While exports typically do not warrant duties or taxes, a transit document may be required to prevent taxes from being levied in the first non-UK country where your goods arrive if that country is not their final destination.

Are there any additional customs-related fees?
Yes, there are additional expenses besides customs duties and taxes:
  • Additional expenses: These include any costs associated with customs holding and storing your goods. You may be charged for X-rays used to determine the safety and compliance of your goods with standards during importation.
  • Anti-dumping: This duty is imposed in the United Kingdom on certain products to protect domestic manufacturing by discouraging the importation of a sample or a similar product at a lower price.
How do customs duties get paid in the UK?

You can pay customs directly, or you can pay through your hired customs clearance agency in UK. The majority of payment methods involving customs clearance agents will incur administration and processing fees.

Many UK-based exporters and importers hire a customs clearance agent to make the payments on behalf of them; however, if you’re handling it yourself, you can expect to receive an invoice once your goods have entered the country. You must then make payment before the goods can be released.

Can I avoid paying customs fees?

It is illegal to declare imported goods using a lower commodity code. Likewise, it is prohibited to make a false declaration of the value of goods to reduce duties or taxes.

Numerous types of tax relief can eliminate or reduce customs duty, such as a reduced VAT rate on particular goods. You may qualify for tax exemption if the goods you are importing are:

  • Affected by a preference contract
  • Reimporting goods previously exported
  • Importing products for processing or repair
  • Importing temporary goods
  • Academic and cultural products
  • Medico-scientific products
  • Printed and marketing materials
  • Materials for industrial and commercial research
  • Goods with a specific function
  • Sea produce
  • Shifting your business to the United Kingdom
  • Products used in funerals and memorials
  • Receiving packages by mail
  • Goods donated to charities or supporting disabled people
  • Merchandise for private use
  • Delaying Customs Duties and Import Value-Added Tax
Advantages of hiring an expert from a customs clearance agency in UK

There are numerous advantages to employing the services of a customs clearance agency in UK. Given below are the primary reasons that are likely to resonate with your particular needs:

  1. Information regarding intricate administrative requirements

Numerous organisations cannot cover the expense of employing staff familiar with the ins and outs of international goods shipping. In this case, they can outsource this to a reputed customs clearance agency in UK.

A reputed customs clearance agency in UK can offer you comprehensive export/import solutions, such as logistics, warehousing, cargo shipping, and distribution, so you can rest assured that your business is in safe hands.

  1. Ability to expedite customs clearance

If you hire a specialist from a customs clearance agency in UK, they can ensure that your shipments safely cross international borders and arrive at their intended destination. They are equipped to facilitate the entire customs clearance procedure, regardless of the entry port.

  1. Avoiding unnecessary expenses

The regulations and rules governing international transactions continue to evolve. As specialists in the field, a customs clearance agency in UK helps you avoid costly delays, fines, reallocation of inventory, and other penalties.

  1. Declarations verification

It is important to remember that you are legally responsible for all customs declarations prepared on your behalf. Inaccurate declarations can result in sanctions, audits, and fines for your business, so ensure that an authorised customs agent from a reputed customs clearance agency in UK verifies your declarations.

  1. Convenient paperwork

Even though it is not required by law to utilise the services of a customs clearance agency in UK, many businesses prefer to do so. This results in delegating all printed materials and correspondence with major offices to a specialist. More importantly, their expertise prevents you from making errors.

  1. Proper identification of the merchandise

Experts from a customs clearance agency in UK, have a thorough understanding of the duties or taxes imposed on goods entering a country. Each item is assigned a unique order number and separated into major groups and subgroups to ensure simple identification for obtaining customs duty.

  1. Simple entry with formal clearance

Often, a formal section (formal announcement of specific data on imported products) is necessary to import certain goods into the UK. This applies to pharmaceutical and food products, cosmetics, chemicals, natural materials for research and medical purposes, and agricultural and dairy products.


While looking for a customs clearance agency in UK, you need a partner who comprehends the complexities of customs clearance and has the necessary experience and expertise to ensure your shipments are compliant and processed efficiently.

Customs Clearance Experts can help simplify the import and export processes for you. We have a team of seasoned customs clearance agents who ensure a smooth and trouble-free process, saving you time and money. Contact us today to talk to our customs clearance agents about solutions for importing or exporting your goods across borders.