5 top tips for importing to the UK from the USA

September 13, 2021 /

1. Get the tariff codes right

A tariff code is used in the UK and can also be known as a commodity code, or a Harmonized System (HS) code and is usually 6 digits long. This code is used to classify goods. It is worth noting that this code is different from the one that is used in the US, which uses the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code. The HTS code is a variation of the UK’s HS code but is more specific. It is the business’ legal responsibility to ensure that the correct tariff codes are used. The correct codes must be used for all exports and imports coming to the UK from anywhere abroad. All imports and exports must also be declared to HM revenue and customs (HMRC). The codes are essential in ensuring that you are paying the correct duty and for knowing whether you need an export/import license.

2. Book your shipment at least 2 weeks in advance

Currently, the UK (and the US) are experiencing major lorry driver shortages, and this has had a huge impact on the times that goods are arriving at their destinations. The US trucking industry is beginning to return to normalcy, as the country continues to adapt to the ELD mandate. However, the UK is still struggling massively, especially after Brexit. The trucking industry relies very heavily on drivers from Eastern Europe, and Brexit has caused many of these drivers to go home, cutting off the UK’s access. This has meant that arrival times of goods, and the freight industry in general in the UK, has slowed, and costs have also increased. Therefore, if you are considering importing to the UK, it would be wise to book any shipments at least 2 weeks in advance, in order to prepare for any delays.

Obtain proper legal advice before signing any contracts

It is important to make sure that you understand all laws regarding importing and exporting. This is important to understand whether you are importing/exporting from the UK or another country. There could be bureaucratic hurdles or any number of administrative issues within particular countries. Always make sure to have a lawyer that is familiar with US and UK laws check out any contractual documents before signing anything.

Know and understand shipping terms

There are many words and abbreviations within the shipping industry, and these can seem overwhelming if you’ve never heard of them before. It’s incredibly important that you understand these when importing from the USA to the UK though. A tip for this is to try and buy goods on Ex Works or FOB terms. These are the best ways of controlling your cost.

The VAT in America

Typically, importing from the USA is relatively easy. You just need to be careful that American companies do not charge you American VAT if the goods are bought in the USA for export to the UK. VAT from state to state in America can be between 5.5% and 12%. If you are importing items from the US into the UK, then the VAT will be paid in the UK.   If you have any questions regarding importing goods to the UK from the USA, please do not hesitate to contact us.