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Published:April 13, 2021

How to pay less import duty & VAT when re-importing into the UK

You can claim customs and VAT relief if you re-import goods into the UK that have previously been exported

How to pay less import duty & VAT when re-importing into the UK

We recently considered a number of special import procedures that enable traders to reduce the cost of import duties and VAT when importing into the UK.

Businesses that export goods from the UK and then re-import them, should also be aware of the Returned Goods Relief procedures. UK authorities have recently updated their guidance on the re-import procedures. 


Which goods are applicable for relief?

Goods that are eligible for relief include equipment for professional use, personal items, vehicles exported under Carnet de Passages en Douane and goods previously declared end use, if they are to be put to the same use when imported. You can also claim relief on pallets that were used to export goods from the UK and are then re-imported.

The goods must be re-imported in the same state that they were exported in. That is, they cannot be processed abroad (apart from maintenance work to keep the goods in working order). 

Note that the relief does not apply if the goods left the UK from Northern Ireland. 


Is there a time limit on Returned Goods Relief?

In most cases, goods must be re-imported within three years of export to be eligible for relief. 

In addition, an extension has been implemented for goods that were transported to the EU. For goods exported from the UK that were in the EU on 31 December 2020, the time limit has been extended to 30 June 2022. All other conditions must be met as normal.

Extensions may also be applicable in the case of items such as specialised goods and machinery used for capital projects. You should claim Returned Goods Relief at the time of import (although a late claim may be possible). 


How do I claim VAT relief?

When claiming VAT relief you must provide a re-import declaration showing you as the importer. You are also required to provide the original export declaration showing you as the exporter.


Ensure you always secure preferential trade 

re:TRADE, powered by VAT IT, is a holistic trade solution that provides total clarity on even the most complex import procedures. re:TRADE will ensure you take advantage of all applicable preferential trade mechanisms, reducing your costs and enhancing cash flow. 

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