How customs and other documents are cleared , while receiving or sending


We have recently planned to launch an eCommerce Store. We have certain products which which we want to ship to the international market too.

But when I choose to ship items individually it cost me a lot . The other way around is I can send the products in Bulk to some one in UK using Fedex or DHL.And then he will ship the items locally. So that way I will save on, per-piece-shipment price.

But, I am not sure how the person other end will receive the items. Will he be needing any kind of Tax ID or VAT Id. How my product will be cleared from Custom ?What tax does he need to pay , if he is only receiving and shipping the products?

Ecommerce UK Tax International

asked Feb 22 '12 at 05:37
101 points

2 Answers


There have been a discussion here before although I can't find it now but here are the guidelines for registering for VAT.

In general you might have to sift through much of HM Revenue & Customs for import duties and also VAT collection to determine the answer as these may vary based on the product you will ship. I would find companies that actually do customs clearing of bulk shipments.

answered Feb 22 '12 at 06:11
1,779 points


Assuming the items are not exempt, there will be a number of fees involved with landing products into the UK (or most other countries).

First there will be Duty. The amount varies depending on the product classification. If you estimate 3.5% you'll probably be in the right ballpark.

Customs Handling Fee. A fee charged by the carrier/forwarder. Variable depending on which company you use, estimate £20 per set of documents.

VAT. Value Added Tax. At time of writing, it's 20% in the UK, and is paid on top of everything else.

You can elect to send the stuff "DDP" which means that all the costs are reverted back to the shipper, instead of the receiver.

Note - because most of these costs a percentages, it makes no difference whether you ship single or in bulk - except for any potential saving on the consolidation of weight (and the handling fees).

An added benefit of doing business this way, is that you could tell your UK/EU customers that there will be no Customs charges payable by them (because the product will be shipped from the UK). Obviously, you need to factor the additional costs into your sell price, but do make sure this added benefit is marketed correctly, otherwise your pricing may appear higher than that of your competition.

answered Feb 22 '12 at 08:04
Nick Stevens
4,436 points

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