Frequently Asked Questions

How can GFS help your business efficiently import and/or export goods to/from the UK? Learn more about our services and business processes in our frequently asked questions below.

What is customs clearance?

Customs clearance is a compulsory process for all goods entering or leaving the EU. Customs clearance allows HMRC to account for any due charges, ensure correct documentation has been used and ensure conformity to EU law. It also allows HMRC to monitor which goods are entering or leaving the UK.

Why should I use a customs agent?

Customs agents are there to facilitate a professional service between HMRC and importers/exporters.

Where can you complete UK customs clearance?

We can complete Import UK customs clearance for your shipments at the following Airports and Sea ports.

Airports: London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, London Stansted Airport, London City Airport, London Luton Airport, Birmingham, East Midlands Airport, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Edinburgh.

Sea Ports: Any UK port including Felixstowe, London Gateway, Southampton, Grangemouth, Tilbury, Thames port, Dover and Greenock.

*other locations may be available on request.

How long does customs clearance take?

The customs clearance process can vary from shipment to shipment, and is dependent on what goods are entering the country, once goods have entered the UK port. Certain products may need additional documentation checks or a physical examination to ensure that declarations are correct.

Where can I find more information on importing into the UK?

There is a guide on the HMRC website:

What supporting customs clearance documentation do I require?

Basic documentation would be:

  • Shipping document (Bill of Lading – original or telex)
  • Supplier’s commercial invoice
  • Packing list

Other documentation required for specific goods would be:

  • Certificate of Origin
  • Preference Certificates
  • Health certificates (for foodstuffs etc)
  • COA
  • Organic certificate

Note: Importers should check before they ship if any special documentation is required.

Who decides how much import duties and taxes I have to pay?

UK VAT is currently 20%. Duty is dependent on the type of product being imported. All duty rates are set out by Brussels for the EU, and are payable upon free circulation within the EU.

All goods are classified into commodity codes. The duty and VAT amount vary for each commodity. Importers are responsible for the classification of the codes.

If you do not know your codes, please visit the following link:

How can I pay for import duties and taxes?

Your customs clearance agent will advise you how much duty and VAT is required to be paid. You can pay customs directly or you can pay us first and we will pay customs on your behalf.

Where can I find more information on customs clearance?

Further information on customs clearance, their rules and regulations, service standards and details of your local Customs clearance office can be found on the HMRC website:

What happens after customs clearance?

We provide you with copies of all documentation completed on your behalf, which have been lodged with HMRC. We are also able to facilitate delivery of your goods after clearance, if you require it.

How do I know which products I am allowed to Import?

Details of restricted goods can be found on the UK Customs website:

Can I import foodstuffs?

The majority of foodstuffs are okay to import when accompanied by relevant official documentation. Certain food items would need additional documentation to be lodged with port health. Importers are required to ensure all documents are in place before goods are imported.

Still haven’t answered your question?

Get in touch with us today if you are still looking for answers and one of our team will be able to help.

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