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Info from U.K. Customs Office


National Advice Service

Ty Portcullis 21 Heol y Bont-faen Caerdydd CF11 9SS

Portcullis House 21 Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF11 9SS

Ffôn/Tel: 029 20386127 Ffacs/Fax: 029 20386444


25th October 2001

Dear Shaun

Re: Importation of CD’s

I refer to your e-mail dated 23rd October 2001, which was received by our London office and forwarded to Cardiff for a reply.

I think that it would first be helpful if I provide you with some background as to how Import duties are calculated.

Goods that are unaccompanied and imported into the UK from countries outside the EC are, in the majority of cases charged with Customs Duty and Import VAT, regardless of whether they are for business or personal use. If the value is less than £18, then the duty and VAT will be relieved.

The value on which Customs Duty is charged derives from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is transposed into EC law, namely Regulation (EEC) No.2913/92 (Articles 28-36), also known as the Customs Code (CC) and Regulation (EEC) No.2454/93 (Articles 141 –181 (a) and Annex 23), The Implementing Regulations (IR). Customs Duty is predominantly charged as a percentage of the landed value. The landed value being basically The price paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the EC. (Article 29 CC refers) along with shipping and insurance costs to the EC frontier (Article 32 CC refers). If the import is by post, then the postal charges are included in the landed value (Article 165, IR). Customs Notice 252, provides more information on the valuing of goods for duty purposes.

The rate of Customs Duty to be charged is dependent on the type of goods being imported and the country from which they originate. To help determine which rate of duty should be applied, goods are allocated a ‘Commodity Code’. This code consists of eight to fourteen digits and ‘class’ the goods so that the correct rate of duty can be applied. Customs Notice 600, provides further information on Classification of imported goods. If you wish to seek further advice on the classification of goods then you can contact the Tariff Classification help line on 01702 366077. If the CD in question is a music CD then the classification will be 8524320000 with a duty rate of 3.5%

In addition to Customs and Excise Duty there is an Import VAT liability, and again depending on the type of goods to be imported, the VAT rate may vary e.g. children’s clothing may be zero-rated, whereas wine will be standard rated at 17.5%. Import VAT is calculated on the same basis as Customs Duty, except that you add in the total duty being paid (if any) along with transport and ‘incidental’ expenses (e.g. agents fees) from the port/airport to the first destination within the EC e.g. your home address.

By way of an illustration, if you imported CD’s, for which you paid £150.00 then Duty and VAT would be calculated as follows:


Value of CD’s



Freight to EC Border



Value for Customs Duty



Duty Rate @3.5%



Incidental Expenses



Value For VAT (c+d+e)



VAT @ 17.5%



Total Charges (d+g)


When goods are imported into the UK you must normally make a declaration to HM Customs & Excise. If the goods are imported by post then this will normally be on an International Customs Declaration (CN22 or CN23). The procedures for importing by post are detailed in our Customs Information Notice 143. Usually the Post Office will collect the charges on delivery. A charge label being affixed to the package detailing those charges to be paid. The Post Office may also apply a ‘handling charge’. This is a levy charged for clearing the package through Customs and normally equates to around £5. The Post Office handle packages for customs examination and if required will open and repack them and store them if needs be. The charges are separate from the amounts required to be included in the Customs Duty and Import VAT values. Any enquiries about this charge should be directed to the Post office.

I hope you have found the above information useful, but please feel free to contact me at the above office if you require clarification on the contents of this letter. The Notices referred to in this letter can be accessed on our website at under the heading ‘Information For Business’ and then click on the Customs banner. Then scroll down to Publications and click to enter. It is then a case of scrolling down to the notice you are interested in.

Yours sincerely

Mike Johnson,


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