There are many reasons to import books and paper from the EU to the UK. You may be a publisher receiving manuscripts, a company registering a patent or a school importing children’s books in bulk. The United Kingdom left the European Union’s single market on 1 January 2021, and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect on 24 December. Since that date, the UK has become a ‘third country’ to the EU. Here is what businesses now need to do to import books and paper from the EU to the UK.
Before Brexit, UK businesses were allowed to operate with EU Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers. This arrangement has now changed. To import into the United Kingdom, you need an EORI number corresponding to the respective region. For instance, a GB EORI number to import into England, Scotland or Wales and an IX EORI number to import into Northern Ireland. The latter, however, still allows imports using EU numbers as it still has a closer trade relationship with the European Union. To get an EORI number, you need to have:
Getting VAT registration is a crucial step to take before starting the import process. Businesses with VAT registration are often given preferential duty rates and allowed to claim duty refunds.
The UK charges no import duties and VAT on miscellaneous documents and related articles coming from the EU. To get duty relief, you will have to write the correct commodity code on your import declaration. Here is a list of items and their commodity codes.
Use code 37052000 to classify:
Code 49111090 covers:
Commodity code 49059900 classifies scientific maps, charts and diagrams and code 49060000, architectural and engineering plans and designs.
However, if importing articles with advertising space covering more than 25% of the surface, you will have to pay full duty.
Before claiming VAT relief, ensure that the books and paper you are importing are non-controlled and that you will not require a special licence to import them. It’s best to claim relief at the time of import, as late claims are subject to special conditions. You or your specialist freight forwarder must complete an import declaration to claim relief on books and paper imported as freight. UK customs allows sea freight operators, air freight companies and road freight couriers to act as customs agents submitting import declarations.
Additionally, freight operators often have special software that can communicate with CHIEF, duty deferment accounts and HMRC authorisation, so it’s a good idea to let them deal with customs on your behalf. Ensure that you give your courier clear written instructions for the goods that you’re claiming relief on.
Claiming duty relief on an import declaration requires filling a special customs procedure code in box 37 of the declaration. For example:
After claiming relief, you must tell NIRU if you dispose of the imported books or transfer them to another organisation. Additionally, the National Imports Relief Unit may ask you for some documents, later on, so you must keep them in good condition for four years. These documents include: