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UK import guide

Shipwire is proud to offer you access to our UK warehouse. To help smooth the process, we recommend using this guide to enter the European market. The London facility is within driving distance of Ireland, and a “chunnel” stop away from France, Brussles, Belgium, and the Netherlands, which means no more transatlantic boat or expensive air-freight shipments.

UK customs brokers
Since goods arriving at a Shipwire warehouse must be DDP (Delivered Duty Paid, or free of all import taxes or customs clearance charges), Shipwire recommends working with a customs broker to import your products into the UK. While there is typically no legal requirement to hire a customs broker, it is often the most efficient way to clear customs. A licensed customs broker will fill out paperwork and obtain the required documentation to complete the import.

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Register your business in the UK

You will need to register your business with the UK Government in order to import inventory in bulk. There are two ways to do this, and whether you register your business with a local tax ID or get a customs and import ID will depend on your business arrangement.

Business registration
This process provides you with a local tax ID; your business will operate as a UK business for VAT and tax (see Duties, taxes, and tariffs section). For a referral to a tax accountant in the UK, please visit the HM Revenue and Customs Business Site.

Non registration trade ID
Go to the Gateway and register for free. Then, get an eBTI (electronic Binding Tariff Information). Here’s a PDF with more information. Follow these steps to obtain a Non Registration Trade ID:

  1. Verify qualifications – Refer to FAQs. This is for non-UK businesses that want to import into the UK or EU without a business registration.
  2. Apply – In order to obtain an EORI number, you must submit an application form. There are two ways you can apply: electronically (through email) or with a hard copy. Application forms must be fully completed and signed by a responsible person within your business (i.e. director, partner, or sole proprietor). If the information you provide is incomplete or inaccurate, the application form will be returned to you or you’ll be contacted to correct the information.
  3. Paperwork – Choose between the electronic C220 application form or the hard copy C220A application form, then complete and submit it:

    Complete application – The form is made up of three sections. Sections A and C must be completed by all applicants. Only applicants who are not VAT registered in the UK or are not established in the customs territory of the community need to complete Section B.

    Electronic EORI application submission – Download, complete, and save the C220 application form as a Word document. Email the completed form (along with scans of supporting documents, if you have completed Section B) to the EORI team in Cardiff: turn@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Note that hard or faxed copies of supporting documents for electronic applications are not accepted.

    Hard copy application submission – Print the C220A application form or obtain a form by calling the National Advice Service at 0845-010-9000. You must complete the form and send it by post (along with supporting documents, if you have completed Section B) to the EORI processing team at the following address:

    HM Revenue & Customs
    EORI Team
    13th Floor South
    Government Buildings
    Ty Glas
    CF14 5FP

    In most cases, the EORI application will be processed within one working day of receipt. It will take a further day to update CHIEF and EU EORI systems. You will be notified in writing of your new EORI number. At peak periods, processing may take up to 72 hours. If you have not received notification by then, send an email to turn@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. For further reference, see the HM Revenue EORI System FAQ page.


Confirm your goods can be imported

Prior to importing your products, identify any regulations on the goods you plan to import. Make sure the goods are not prohibited from coming into the UK and determine whether or not the goods you want to import are subject to import control restrictions or other requirements. This guide is a useful reference for import regulations. You should also confirm that your products are not excluded by the Shipwire Acceptable Use Policy.

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Duties, tariffs, and taxes

Import and customs
London and the EU are not free trade between the U.S. Inventory must pass through customs in order to be imported and you will need to pay tax and customs duties. Here, you can look up customs duties and restrictions for your products. NOTE: It can take a few weeks for inventory to clear customs. If you are using a third party customs broker or freight forwarder, plan for delays on the initial imports and take into consideration any time-sensitive products. The following forms are needed to clear customs:

  • A completed C88 form: C88 is the customs declaration form all importers or agents must complete to declare goods to customs. The form specifies information about the parties involved in the import, how the goods were transported, and statistical data. A paper C88 form (presented manually) is certified when it is stamped by a customs official. Details can also be submitted electronically via CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight). Customs will then issue an Entry Acceptance Advice in place of a stamp as proof that entry was accepted by customs.
  • An attached copy of the supplier’s invoice (used for VAT)
  • Goods classified appropriately in order to ensure that the correct tariff is applied
  • Any special licenses required

Payment of customs duties
Once an import C88 has been submitted and accepted by customs and excise, amounts owed are due. All duties and tariffs must be paid before they are released. Importers with goods arriving regularly usually pay using a Deferment Account. You can also pay by Sterling traveler check, bank draft, or company check.

VAT tax implications
If you have sold in the UK or Europe in the past and had product returned by end buyers because they received their purchase and a nasty VAT bill, you already know to watch out for Value Added Tax. Moving product in bulk to your new London facility means you clear VAT once and establish the Import VAT base by shipping it to yourself. You now know your base VAT tax obligation and can reprice your merchandise accordingly.

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Understanding shipping in the UK

Refer to the following warehouse guide(s) for shipping capabilities, available carriers and features:


Understanding pricing

Shipwire has purposely aligned the way it prices its services with the needs of the fast-growing business. Our pricing is designed to be simple and transparent, to not require any management or oversight on your part, and to reward increased order volume. Learn more about pricing:

Shipping fees are denominated in US dollars. Shipping rates may fluctuate as the dollar fluctuates. Please read our Terms of Service for more information on shipping price quotes.

Handling 1 item from London is the same as shipping 1 item from any other Shipwire location. For example if you ship 50 orders in one month, split evenly between London and Los Angeles. On the 51st order, you upgrade to the next handling level, decreasing your handling price on the following orders for the month.

Storing 1 pallet in London is the same as storing 1 pallet in any other Shipwire location. For example, if your account includes up to 4 pallets of storage. If you store 1 pallet in London, and 1 pallet in the Los Angeles, you have 2 pallets of storage left.

How does Shipwire calculate currency rates?
The most readily available information on currency exchange rates is based on “interbank exchange rates”. Interbank exchange rates are established in the course of currency trading among a global network of over 1000 banks, and are not available through consumer or retail channels. Consumers may use these rates as a reference, but should not expect to use interbank rates in transactions that involve currency conversion. To obtain actual retail rates, contact your local financial institution or currency exchange.

If your transaction involves a currency conversion, it will be completed at a retail foreign exchange rate determined by Shipwire, which is adjusted regularly based on market conditions.

This exchange rate includes a 3% spread above the exchange rate at which Shipwire obtains foreign currency, and the spread is retained by Shipwire.

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