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Importing: Our 10-Step Guide for Businesses

(S,P) Businesses wishing to import goods into a country need to plan early to make sure it's a smooth ride, argues Arne Mielken of Customs Manager Ltd.

It is important for any global business to know how to bring goods into your country from any country and to work out how much tax and duty they will need to pay and whether they need to get a licence or certificate or not to enter their goods. There are also a set of deadlines that need to be respected. This how-to-guide sets out the fundamental principles of successful importing into your country. To find out specifics for your countries of operation, reach out to us for a chat.


Step 1: Register with customs

You may need a registration number with your local customs authorities to import goods into your country. For example, in the EU or GB, this is an EORI number. if you need help getting the right registration, reach out to your dedicated Customs Manager for support

Step 2: Exporting out of the sending country

Check the business sending you the goods can export to your country. Some requirements usually include:

  • to make an export declaration in their country

  • licences or certificates to send goods to your country.

Check whoever is sending the goods is able to export them from their country.

Step 3: Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself. Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent. Customs Manager Ltd offers customs clearance services into Great Britain and Northern Ireland:




Step 4: Classify your commodity code for your goods

You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration.

If you engage Customs Manager Ltd to do your customs filing for you or as your advisor, we are also able to help you with this.

There is also a wide range of training and support on the Customs Manager Ltd website (accessible for subscribers):




Study anywhere and on any device on demand, with live tutor support and certification of completion. Find out more.


Step 5: Work out the value of your goods

When you make your import declaration, you’ll need to include the value of your goods - this helps work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay.

Step 6 Find out if you can delay or reduce your duty payment

If your country has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from, you may be able to pay less duty or no duty on the goods (known as a 'preferential rate').

You may also be able to delay or reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are from and what you plan to do with them.

Find out if you can pay a lower rate of duty or delay paying duty with our dedicated blog category called "Save Money": It discusses the options available to businesses, the duty relief schemes such as




Step 7 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

There are special rules, and you may need to get licences or certificates if you are importing any of the following, These will depend from country to country, but overall, the list may include, for example:

  • animals and animal products

  • plants and plant products

  • high-risk food

  • veterinary medicines

  • human medicine

  • controlled drugs

  • tissues and cells for human application

  • waste

  • products containing F gas

  • precursor chemicals

  • hazardous chemicals

  • nuclear material

  • guns, knives, swords and other weapons

  • weapons and goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment

If you need the list of what is controlled for your imported countries, please get in touch with your dedicated customs manager.


Step 8 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

Check the marking, labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods.

Step 9 Get your goods through customs

If you've appointed Customs Manager Ltd to deal with customs for you, we'll make the declaration and get your goods through the border (if you are importing them into Great Britain, we can help)

Step 10 Keep invoices and records

You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork. We can advise further on his here:

EXTRA STEP: Consider simplifications and the AEO status

There are usually processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly. These are usually known as simplified declaration procedures and Authorised Economic Operator status. They can help clear goods faster, but they come with conditions attached.




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