UK Customs Clearance: FAQs

June 10, 2021

If you’re shipping goods in or out of the country, you’ll need some understanding of UK customs clearance. Whether you’re dealing with large quantities or a few small items, customs rules will apply. Overlooking the regulations could cost you and your business dearly.

Here at Containerlift, it’s our mission to make the shipping process as uncomplicated as possible. We’re specialists, providing a one-stop solution for the international import and export of goods. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about UK customs clearance, which we hope you’ll find helpful.

UK Customs Clearance

What are UK Customs?

UK Customs is the overseas shipping part of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs authority (HMRC). It’s the government department that monitors and controls goods being shipped in and out of the country. Customs is also in charge of collecting any duties and taxes that may need to be paid.

How long does clearance take?

If there’s no problem with the goods, clearance typically takes a matter of minutes, or hours at the most. However, if there’s an issue, or Customs need to examine your goods, this could extend to days or possibly weeks.

What happens if my goods are held?

Goods can be held for a number of reasons, if Customs feel that they can’t safely be cleared. Many of these reasons are due to not having the required documentation in place. Some goods need safety certificates for UK customs clearance, and if you don’t have them the items could be held.

Even with the right paperwork in place, Customs could hold your goods if they think they need to be tested. The process of testing the goods to make sure they comply with UK standards could take time. Unfortunately, there’s no legitimate way of avoiding this.

If your goods are held, you may need to contact your supplier for additional details or certification. If you’ve given Customs as much information as you can, all you can really do is wait for a response.

Will I need to pay customs?

If you’re importing goods with a total value of over £15 you’ll need to pay tax for UK customs clearance. This includes items both for personal and commercial use.

Usually you’ll receive an invoice when your goods reach the UK, detailing the various charges. You’ll need to pay the charges before the goods can be released to you. (Note that storage fees will also be charged, so it’s best to pay quickly).

Are my goods subject to Trading Standards?

All goods in the UK must comply with Trading Standards. However, some imported items tend to be scrutinised more than others. These include lithium batteries, Hoverboards (or Segways), children’s toys and also electrical goods.

As we’ve seen, if your goods need to be tested for UK customs clearance this could result in significant delays. So, to meet Trading Standards you will need documentation to show that your goods are of the required quality.

Working with Containerlift

The Containerlift team is experienced in handling all customs documentation. So, whether you’re shipping goods to or from the UK, get in touch today for more information about our cost-effective shipping solutions.