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 has introduced its own tariff and quota system to replaces the Common External Tariff that was applied by the EU Customs Union.

The Common External Tariff now applies to all goods being imported into the EU from the Great Britain. Northern Ireland is subject to hybrid arrangements that are still being implemented.

The UK Global Online Tariff tool offers updated information by product on the tariffs and VAT rates that apply. The tool helps to obtain the correct tariff classification for goods for import or export. Before shipping any goods, businesses are advised to obtain a written customs duty ruling from The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Further information on tariffs is available from Trade Tariff Tool. Full guidance on placing goods in Great Britain is available here.

Northern Ireland

During Brexit negotiations, the EU and UK agreed a Northern Ireland Protocol under which there would be no new checks on goods crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

As a result of the protocol, Northern Ireland has in effect remained in the EU's single market for goods. This means that the EU's rules on customs and regulation of agri-food products will continue to apply to goods arriving in Northern Ireland.

A full explanation on the Northern Ireland Protocol can be found here.

Currently, all goods are permitted to flow to and from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU as they did while the UK was a member of the EU – without customs checks, tariffs or new paperwork.

However, controls are being introduced in the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, as England, Wales and Scotland are not part of the Common European Market. These controls are causing disruption to trade. Their full extent and impact is not yet clear.

  • Extra information:
    • Placing manufactured goods on the market in Northern Ireland- here
    • Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland - here.

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 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. More information can be found here.

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

Product certification, labelling and packaging

The FSA (Food Standards Agency) offers specific information on labelling and packaging that can be found here. The information below summarises the most important points to be considered.

Packaging

Packaging must meet all UK requirements. To reduce the impact of packaging on the environment, the UK has legislation concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste. Note that other than in Northern Ireland, any references to European Union Regulations in any guidance should be read as meaning retained EU law.

The retained version of Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers applies to food businesses in Great Britain.

EU food law, including Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers applies in Northern Ireland.

Find out more information on packaging waste and producer responsibilities.

UKCA Mark

The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that is used for goods being placed in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).

The UKCA marking alone cannot be used for goods placed in Northern Ireland. See the guidance on placing manufactured goods in Northern Ireland here.

Labelling

Northern Ireland

All labelling and information directives of the European Council must be met, as well as local and national regulations. Further information on product labelling 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).

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

Great Britain

The Food Standards Agency provides packaging and labelling related information on the retained version of Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers that applies in Great Britain.

Full guidance can be found here.

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 on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 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, 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.

You must submit an application form to obtain an EORI number. 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

There are no special requirements. A minimum of two original copies are required. Additional copies are required for customs if goods are transhipped en route.

Packing list

A packing list is 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. Find 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 on accreditation.

Public health requirements

Find out more information about import and export licences.

Sending commercial samples

Many Australian companies are interested in sending samples to the UK before closing an agreement with a new client. It is important for companies to understand procedures to make sure samples arrive.

Austrade has prepared a fact sheet (PDF, 565kB) on how to send samples to the UK. The document provides guidelines on the steps and the authorities involved in the approval process.