Import duty and taxes for goods from China

Calculate the charges you'll need to pay when bringing goods from China into the UK, and learn how TransferWise can help you manage your business across borders.

How does the UK charge import duty on China goods?

If you need to pay import duty on goods from China, you'll be contacted by Royal Mail (or your courier) and told how to pay. You'll usually have 3 weeks to pay any charges, before they send parcel back.

As your parcel will be from outside the EU, you may be charged VAT or excise duty on it. You'll also need to pay customs duty on gifts or other goods from China if they're worth more than a certain value.

You'll need to know the tariff or HS code to calculate the exact rate due. If you also need to pay VAT, it'll be charged on the total value of your goods, including import duty.

Type and value of goods Import duty rate

Any goods under £135

No charge

Gifts worth £135-£630

2.5% (lower for some goods)

Gifts above £630 and any other goods above £135

Depends on the type of goods and country of export. Check the HS code of goods to get the exact rate.

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What goods are considered gifts?

HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) will consider a parcel a gift if the sender has described it as a gift on the customs declaration. To qualify, the parcel will need to be sent between two people (not companies) for an appropriate occasion (like a birthday, or anniversary).

How do you calculate import duty on China goods?

Imagine you need to import a shipment of umbrellas from China to the UK. The goods cost £15,000, and the shipping and insurance costs £7,000.

  • The shipment is worth more than £135, and the goods can't be considered gifts, so you'll need to pay a specific import duty rate.
  • To find out how much you'll need to pay, you'll need to check the commodity code for umbrellas, and apply the import duty rate for that code — 4.5%.
  • Tax will be due on the cost of the goods and shipping, which in this case is £22,000 (£15,000 + £7,000).
  • 4.5% of £22,000 is £990 (22,000 ✖ 0,045). So for the goods, shipping, and import duty, you'll pay £22,990 in total. As it’s from outside the EU, you’ll also need to pay VAT on this amount.

How to pay import tax?

If you need to pay import duty on a delivery from China, UK customs will automatically let Royal Mail or your courier know, and they’ll contact you. They’ll tell you how much you need to pay, and when it’s due, so you won’t need to worry about calculating it yourself (unless you think a mistake has been made).

To save time, you can usually get your supplier to send the shipping invoice before the delivery. This means you can let Royal Mail or your courier know beforehand, and pay the charges before the goods arrive to the UK.

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Registering to import goods from China

If you’re planning on importing goods from China, there are a few things you should prepare for.

Your company should be registered to pay VAT, it should also have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. You can register for both quickly and easily with HMRC. If you don’t know whether you have an EORI number, you can check online.

For restricted goods, like firearms and ammunition, you’ll also need to get an import licence.

What is anti-dumping duty?

Anti-dumping duty is an extra charge placed on imports from other countries that are deliberately priced to undercut similar goods in the UK. The UK applies this tariff to protect local businesses from unfair competition overseas.