How to import garments into the UK?

 There are a list of essential items needed when importing garments to the UK. These include:

  • An invoice
  • A packing list (This details the amount of cartons you are importing, what is in each carton, sizes and colour ratio e.g. “20 cartons, 30 pieces, medium, blue”)
  • An original bill of lading

Please note: In some cases a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) form can be used to import at a lower rate of duty. However, this is only for some less developed countries, such as Bangladesh. 


If you are planning to import clothing to the UK you should be aware of the existing regulations. At Cargocost, we have put together information regarding general and specific regulations to help you with the import process


import garments into uk

1. Import regulations

2. Labelling requirements and Safety regulations

3. Domestic business standards

4. Importing children's clothes

5. Trade Support

6. Business Support

7. Trade Associations


Want to import clothing into the UK?

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1.  Import Regulations

Please note: Some restrictions may apply when importing clothing that has been manufactured using an endangered species. E.g. A Mink coat or Crocodile shoes etc.

  • When importing clothing from E.U. countries no restrictions apply
  • When importing clothing from outside the E.U, there are no restrictions


When importing branded clothing or footwear to the UK, a brand certificate is required. This is due to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which is given to the creator over the use of their creation for a certain period of time.

For example: When importing “Kindles” to the UK an authorisation letter is required from the rights holder i.e. Amazon.

To find out whether your cargo will be subject to any duty fees or which measures apply, locate the correct tariff to classify your goods.

Learn more about trade regulations from Notice 2676


2.  Labelling requirements and Safety regulations

To sell imported garments and footwear in the UK, there are certain safety regulations and labelling requirements that must be handled by the manufacturer.

Please note: No regulations apply in terms of clothes sizes as these vary dependent on the country or shop. However, a common sizing system has been established as part of the European standards, which is split into three classifications: EN 13402-1:2001, EN 13402-2:2002 and EN 13402-3:2004.


3.  Domestic business standards

Domestic business standards apply when importing goods into the UK. These standards include protecting confidential written property, pollution guidelines, labelling packaging and textiles. Safety standards also apply in terms of labelling nightwear, as well as the restriction of some dyes.


 import garments into uk


4.  Importing children’s clothes

When importing children’s clothing and footwear with the intent to sell them within the UK there are specific quality and safety standards, which must be met.


The most common rules and regulations that will apply include:

  • The General Product Safety Regulations, 2005
  • The Children’s Clothing (Hood Cords) Regulations, 1976
  • The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations, 1985

Gain further information regarding children’s clothing regulations

BSI Code of Practice

The British Standard Code of Practice PDF covers the recommended materials, manufacturing procedures and design guidelines to ensure children’s clothing remains safe. The full document can be purchased online.

Reduced VAT and Zero rates

The majority of children’s clothing up to age 14 and footwear is exempt from paying VAT. However, some exceptions do apply.

Some imports are not charged any VAT as they fall outside of the VAT bracket. These would generally include:

-       Goods supplied by an individual/company that is not VAT registered.

-       Goods from the Isle of Man or outside the UK.

-       Goods that are not imported on a regular basis so are not a part of your daily business.

Learn more about VAT rates here. 

Alternatively, to find out whether to charge VAT on your goods, or not, call HMRC VAT helpline on: 0845 010 9000.

Please note: If your company only sells zero-rated products and as a result is exempt from VAT registration, please always check that all imported items meet the requirements outlined. 


5.  Trade Support

There are a range of bodies, which are available to assist you with exporting and importing clothing and footwear to the UK. These include:

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI): The official government organisation responsible for providing trade support.

Please note: To locate your local trade team use a postcode search.  


6.  Business Support

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC): Further information to assist with the import and export process.  


7.  Trade Associations

When importing garments into the UK, there are many factors to consider. These include import regulations, import licensing, and tariff classification, labelling requirements, safety regulations and VAT rates. However, for a hassle-free import process it is best to contact Cargocost. We handle all the shipping necessities and keep you informed 100% of the way. 


Click 'Quote me!' to get all-inclusive shipping quotes

importing garments to the uk


You may be also interested in: How to import household goods and furniture into the UK?

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