Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to the United Kingdom (UK).

For further information, visit the HM Revenue and Customs website.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers

The UK is part of the EU and commercial policy is regulated by the European Commission.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), advise and deal with a range of trade policy, regimes and procedural issues governing imports into the UK.

The UK is part of the harmonised trade system of the EU and importing and exporting are covered by EC Regulations. The Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom is usually referred to as ‘The Tariff’.

A Common External Tariff (CET) is applicable to other countries, including Australia.

The European Community has created the Binding Tariff Information (BTI) system as a tool to obtain the correct tariff classification for goods for import or export. Before shipping any goods, it is recommended to obtain a written BTI customs duty ruling from The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Further information on tariffs is available from Trade Tariff Tool.

Non-tariff barriers

Import licences are required for a number of items including:

  • agricultural products
  • plants and animals
  • foods
  • medicines
  • textiles
  • chemicals and firearms.

The licensing requirement may also depend on the country of origin of the product. Find out more information on import licensing, quotas and restricted goods.  

Imports of food and agricultural products from outside the EU covered by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP goods) are often subject to customs duty and quotas and may require a licence or certificate.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) provides information on importing food from outside the EU.

Trade with certain countries is forbidden or restricted in accordance with UN, EU or OSCE sanctions.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Packaging

Packaging must meet all EU and UK requirements. To reduce the impact of packaging on the environment, the EU has legislation concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste. Find out more information on packaging waste and producer responsibilities.

CE Mark

The CE mark is a mandatory conformity marking for certain products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA). Find out more information on CE marking.

Labelling

All labelling and information directives of the European Council must be met, as well as local and national regulations. Further information on the labelling of products in the interest of consumers and compliance procedures are available at Summaries of EU Legislation.

Food information and labelling legislation must comply with EU legislation and is enforced through the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (FLR).

For organic produce, EU legislation requires that imported organic food from third countries be produced to the same standards as that from the UK or EU. Find out more information on how to become an importer of organic produce.

Special certificates

There are controls on imports into the UK on a number of products including:

  • firearms
  • plants and animals
  • foods
  • medicines
  • textiles
  • technology and chemicals.

Whether you need a licence or certificate can also depend on where the goods are coming from. Find out more information on import and export licences.

Information on exporting and export documentation regarding animals, plants and agricultural products from Australia can also be found at the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotations should be listed in British pound sterling (GBP) or Australian dollars on Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) UK port or airport basis.

Payments are usually by letter of credit, sight draft or on terms of 30, 60 or 90 days or as agreed between the parties.

Documentary requirements

Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI): An EORI number is unique throughout the European Community. This number is used in all communications with any EC customs authorities. The implementation of EORI in the UK replaced the previous customs trader identification system, TURN. All UK EORI numbers start with the letters GB.

In order to obtain an EORI number, you must submit an application form. For more information, visit HM Customs and Revenue website.

Commercial invoice

There are no prescribed forms and a minimum of two copies are required. Different methods of payment may require additional copies.

The invoice must include:

  • clear and precise descriptions of goods
  • terms of sale and payments
  • all details necessary to establish full prices paid
  • gross and net weights
  • the country of origin.

Separate certificates of origin are not mandatory but may be required depending on the terms or method of payment or as documentary proof of origin for certain goods.

Bill of lading

No special requirements, a minimum of two original copies are required and additional copies are required for customs if goods are transhipped en route.

Packing list

Not obligatory, but simplifies clearance if a variety of goods are packed in different cases.

Certificate of insurance

Not obligatory unless quotation was CIF. Useful for valuation in case of disputes.

Insurance

Normal commercial practices apply.

Weights and measures

Various Acts cover weights and measures. Metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) are used when selling packaged or loose goods. For out more information about weights and measures.

Standards

The British Standards Institute is used by industry and business to increase efficiency and safety.

Accreditation

The UK Accreditation Service provides more information.

Public health requirements

Find out more information about import and export licences.