Following Brexit, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was drafted and came into effect on 1 January 2021. Import procedures from the EU to Great Britain have permanently changed under the UK-EU TCA to include new customs processes, administration and checks. You, therefore, need to adjust to the significant changes this brings to import operations.

Get an EORI number and VAT Registration Number

As with other goods, importing electronics to the UK calls for an EORI number. To import products into England, Wales, or Scotland, you must have a number that begins with GB, and to import into Northern Ireland, you must have a number that begins with XI. If you only had an EU EORI number before 2021, you’ll need to get one from HMRC.

Similarly, before Brexit, many businesses could operate under EU simplifications. If your business used to work under these rules, you now need to register for a UK VAT number to import electronics and other products to the UK. A VAT import certificate will keep you from paying unnecessary import taxes and will allow you to get a VAT refund for any import duties you have paid.


Imported electronics need to be labelled with a CE mark that is at least 5mm high. If this mark cannot go on the product, it should go on the packaging or a document accompanying the electronic item. Ensure that the identification labelling allows a clear link to the declaration of conformity or any other documentation that can show the conformity of the product. You also need to mark your imported electronics with:

  • The name or trademark of the manufacturer
  • Manufacturer’s address
  • A serial number for identification.

Commodity Codes, Import Duties and VAT

On your import declaration, you must include the commodity code for your electronics. This code will determine the applicable duty rate and whether an import license is required. Chapter 85 covers the commodity codes for importing electronics. For example:

  • 8528721000 for importing televisions and
  • 8518220090 for importing speakers.

Some electronic goods are difficult to classify, and are covered under chapter 84. For example:

  • importing computers goes under code 8471 and
  • importing robotics goes under code 8479.

It’s best to let a customs agent or a specialist freight forwarding company deal with customs.

To calculate how much VAT is payable, you must first determine the value of your goods. If you import from a country with a trade agreement with the UK, you may be eligible for a preferential rate on your electronics. To obtain this rate, you must:

  • classify the goods under the right commodity code
  • check that the goods meet the rules of origin and
  • provide proof of origin.

Customs Declarations

A customs declaration is a legal document declaring the value and content of imported or exported goods. Your freight forwarder or carrier is responsible for submitting an import declaration.

  • If your goods travel by air, the carrier will be the air freight company.
  • For goods travelling by maritime, the carrier will be the sea freight operator.

An import declaration in CHIEF is a form with 68 boxes to be completed and submitted electronically through approved software. A full import declaration includes:

  • A customs procedure code
  • A commodity code
  • Your Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR)
  • The departure point and destination
  • A consignee and consignor
  • The nature, quantity and packaging of your goods
  • The transport methods and costs
  • The currencies and valuation methods
  • The certificates and licences.

Instead of a full declaration, you can get permission to submit a simplified declaration to speed things up. To apply for a simplified declaration, you’ll need:

  • an EORI number
  • HMRC authorisation
  • computer software that can communicate with the Customs Declaration Service or CHIEF
  • an account for paying duty

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