Is there a tax on importing and exporting?


The taxes that apply to importing and exporting goods depend on a range of factors. The main factors to consider are:

  • The type of goods
  • Whether they are being imported or exported
  • To/from where they are being imported or exported
  • Whether import/export is restricted to within the UK or the EU
  • The value of the goods

If you are a business expanding into importing or exporting, you should get legal advice from an international trade lawyer or commercial lawyer before going ahead. Seeking advice ahead of time will ensure that you properly factor in all of the costs entailed in importing/exporting. Taxes can add up to a substantial figure. An international trade lawyer or commercial lawyer may be able to advise you on ways of setting up your business or setting up trade routes that minimises the tax payable. This can significantly contribute to your business’s income.

Imports can be subject to the following types of taxes and charges:

  • Import VAT
  • Excise duty
  • Customs duty
  • Anti-dumping duty
  • Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) charges

If you are exporting goods you usually won’t have to pay as many taxes and charges, as the buyer typically has to cover those costs. However, always check on this for each and every transaction – be sure to have your international trade lawyer or commercial lawyer check through the terms of the contract.

Whether or not you have to pay VAT on imports and exports depends on whether the goods are being sold within the EU or outside the EU. Goods exported outside the EU can be zero-rated as long as satisfactory evidence is kept of their shipments and they leave the EU within a certain time period.

It is important to have proper procedures in place to keep track of the goods your business imports and exports. You will have to submit detailed returns to customs as well as to HMRC. If your exports within the EU exceed a certain value, you will also have to complete Intrastat returns.

If you need advice on tax or need to speak to a tax solicitor Contact Law can help you. Call us for free on 0800 1777 162 or fill in the web-form and speak to one of our trained advisors who can find you the best specialist tax solicitor.

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