Customs processing: Check if you can make them quicker, simpler or cheaper

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Dear customer,

This week, we’ll tell you about some of the approvals and special procedures that help simplify customs processing and reduce VAT and Customs Duty owed. These are very useful if you are a business that usually re-imports or re-exports as part of your business process.

In this email we’ll tell you what these special procedures are, when you need them and where to find more information about them.

  1. Inward processing
  2. Outward processing
  3. Temporary Admission
  4. Returned Goods Relief
  5. Customs warehousing
  6. Find out what licences, approvals and special procedures are suitable for you
  7. Where to find help and support

1. Inward processing

This is a customs special procedure that allows you to suspend Customs Duty and import VAT on goods you bring into the UK for repair or as materials for manufacturing. You will not need to pay duty or import VAT on the goods if you re-export them following processing or repair.

For example, this may apply if you’re bringing your camera equipment into the UK from France for repairs with the intention of returning them to France. Or, if you’re bringing in fabric to be made into dresses which you will then export.

Find more information on using inward processing on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

Find more information on applying to delay or pay less duty on goods you import to process or repair on GOV.UK.

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2. Outward processing

This allows you to temporarily export goods outside the UK for processing or repair and pay less Customs Duty and import VAT when you re-import them into the UK.

This may apply, for example, if you’re exporting a batch of computers to Germany to be repaired and returned to the UK. Or if you’re exporting bales of fabric to Romania to be made into prom dresses and then re-imported into the UK.

Find out more on using outward processing on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

Find more information on applying to pay less duty on goods you export to process or repair on GOV.UK.

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Q3. Temporary Admission

This is a special procedure that allows you to temporarily import goods into the UK or move goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland without paying Customs Duty or import VAT. You may use the goods for up to two years or more, before re-exporting them.

For example, this may apply if you’re temporarily bringing in samples, professional equipment or items for auction, exhibition or demonstration into the UK.

You can apply for Temporary Admission if you’re the person using the goods or you’re arranging for the goods to be used on your behalf.

Find more information on how to apply to import goods temporarily on GOV.UK.

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Q4. Returned Goods Relief

This allows you to claim relief from Customs Duty and import VAT if you’re re-importing items into the UK that have previously been exported. When you re-import your items, you’ll need to make sure they’ve not been altered, apart from work to maintain them.

This may apply, for example, if you’re re-importing office furniture, equipment or instruments because you’re moving back to the UK from an EU country where you previously exported the goods to.

Find out more on paying less import duty and VAT, when re-importing goods on GOV.UK.

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Q5. Customs warehousing

This allows you to suspend Customs Duty and VAT on goods that you import into the UK and store in a warehouse to be re-exported. Duty and VAT will only become payable when the goods are removed from the warehouse into UK circulation.

For example, no duty or VAT will be payable if you import children's toys from China to be stored in a warehouse in the UK before being re-exported to Portugal.

Find out more information on how to use a customs warehouse on GOV.UK.

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Q6. How would I know which approvals and special procedures I need?

If you’re using an intermediary to move your goods, they may already have approvals and special procedures in place that you can make use of. You should check this with your intermediary.

To find out more, go to our simple online trader tool where you can check what options are available and most suitable for you.

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Q7. Where can I find further help and support?

More information on where to watch videos, sign up for email alerts and register for webinars to learn more about UK transition can be found on the help and support page on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

Watch the video on how to use the online trader tool and our other short videos on HMRC's YouTube channel to familiarise yourself with customs processes and what you need to do before trading goods with the EU.

To ask and get answers to specific questions about HMRC processes for importing or exporting, please visit our customer forums.

Give us a call

Our customer service advisors are available to answer your queries on the Customs and International Trade helpline. They’ll help you with importing, exporting and customs reliefs. The helpline is open from 8‌‌‌‌am‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌10‌‌‌‌pm Monday‌‌ ‌to‌‌ ‌Friday and from 8‌‌‌‌am‌‌ ‌to‌‌ ‌4‌‌‌‌pm at week‌‌‌ends. Call 0300‌‌‌‌‌‌ ‌322‌‌ ‌‌9434 to speak to an advisor.

We will continue to provide guidance and support to help you and your business, including information on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK, our popular live webinars and through this weekly email.

If you know of a business who would also find these weekly emails helpful, please forward it on, or suggest they register to get these updates directly to their inbox.

Yours sincerely

Katherine Green and Sophie Dean

Katherine Green and Sophie Dean 

Directors General, Borders and Trade, HMRC