What is rate of duty for?


Whether importing goods to the UK for personal use or shipping them to the UK from overseas, you could be eligible to pay UK Customs Duty. However, this is dependant on the commodity type and the origin destination of the shipment.



1. What is Customs Duty

2. When are charges applicable

3. Do rates vary?

4. What are the parameters?

5. What happens if my shipment is seized by customs?

6. Why would my shipment be seized?

7. Getting your shipment back


What is Customs Duty?

Customs Duty is a tax applied to imported goods transported from outside the European Union (EU). This tariff is in place to control the flow of goods, in particular prohibited and restricted goods, entering and leaving the UK.


When are charges applicable?

Customs Duty charges are only applicable on goods above a certain value, which have been imported from countries outside of the EU.

Find out if your origin destination qualifies for a UK Customs Duty exemption


Do rates vary?

Rates are dependent on three factors:

  • The type of product
  • The total purchase value of the goods in pounds sterling
  • Whether the shipment is being imported or exported from the UK
  • The products country of origin


The rate of Customs Duty owed is a fraction of the total purchase value of the shipment. This varies depending on the type of product being shipped. Each product is assigned a “commodity code” to determine its Customs Duty rate, dependent on whether it is being imported or exported and the origin of the product.


On average the Customs Duty rate percentage is between 5% and 9%. However in the past rates have been as minimal as 0% and as high as 85% of the total purchase value of the goods.

Find out the UK Customs Duty rate for your commodity. 


What are the parameters?

  • Commercial (business-related) goods valued at £15 or under are exempt from Customs Duty.
  • Goods values at £135 or over must pay Customs Duty, unless the calculated expense of the duty is below £9.


Please refer to the table below:

Goods Value* Customs Charges applicable

£0.01 to £15

No customs duty
No Import VAT**

£15.01 to £135

No customs duty
Import VAT due

£135.01 and greater

Customs duty due, but waived if the amount calculated due is less than £9
Import VAT due







 * This excludes: alcohol; tobacco products; perfumes and toilet waters. Alcohol and tobacco are also likely to be charged excise duty.

** Commercial consignments from the Channel Islands to the UK are not entitled to an import VAT exemption.


To find out if your goods are eligible for a Customs Duty relief, contact the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC): 0300 200 3700


What happens if my shipment is seized by customs?

If HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) seizes your shipment, whatever it is, you can dispute the decision and apply to have your goods returned.


As Cargocost handle the Customs entry for all our customers, we will notify you immediately in the event of a seizure and provide you with all the relevant details. Such as why it was seized and the items in your shipment, which are affected.


Why would my shipment be seized?

There are a number of reasons why a shipment may be seized:

  • If the correct Duty has not been paid on any goods. In particular alcohol and tobacco.
  • If goods imported have been banned from entering the UK.
  • If rules and regulations relating to customs have been broken.


All seized shipments are the responsibility of Border Force.


Getting your shipment back

Once notified of a seizure by Cargocost, you have the following choices to advise us of:

  • Accept the seizure and the items will be disposed of
  • Challenge the seizure and Cargocost will work adamantly to have your shipment released, keeping you informed 100% of the way.

Find out more about the process Cargocost will follow if an item is seized.


Whether you disagree with the decision or want to make a complaint HMRC can help.


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You may be also interested in: How to import garments into the UK?

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