Import duty from USA to UK : Useful UK import guides

Useful UK import guides – Import duty from USA to UK

Welcome to our detailed guide on import duty from USA to UK. Part of our series of useful guides on subjects that matter to UK Business importers besides import finance.

In this guide we’ll cover if you’re liable to pay import duty, how it’s calculated and if there are any exemptions or reliefs.

In particular we’ll cover

In simple terms you must pay the import duty at the applicable rate for the good(s) or item(s) you’re importing ON ARRIVAL into the UK, unless you’re eligible for an exemption, and BEFORE UK customs will release those goods for delivery to you.

America is our 2nd largest import market at an average £30Bn per year.

Searched over 1,000 times every month, import duty from USA to UK and how to calculate it is therefore important to many importers just like you.

So if you’re a UK business importing goods, components, commodities, machinery or equipment from the USA, or planning to, then continue reading.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about import duty from USA to UK and how to estimate or calculate it below…..

Need finance to fund your next import or even pay your Import freight, duties & VAT?

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Import duty from USA to UK – HMRC guidance & notices:

Import duty, whether its payable and how it’s calculated, is a complex subject which is why most importers choose to use the services of a freight forwarder or agent.

However it’s important to at least understand the basics especially as the import duty from USA to UK cost will have to be at least accurately estimated within your proposed overall UK sales price to ensure you make an acceptable profit.

So to keep things relatively simple below are the steps to that understanding with links to the relevant HMRC guidance and notices.

Any business import from the USA over the current value of £135 is eligible for UK Duty.

That import value is based on the price you paid overall for the goods.

Whist you’ll pay for your import in dollars, for duty purposes HMRC will only use pound £sterling and you must use their published, monthly updated currency conversion figure, not one plucked off the web! For example today’s pound to dollar rate is 1.3 but for your duty value calculation you’d use 1.2795.

There are preferential reduced or zero duty rates for imports from Countries with whom we have, (currently via the EU), a Trade Agreement with. You may be surprised to learn that no Trade Agreement exists between the EU & USA so therefore no preferential or zero rate of import duty from USA to UK.

Assuming your importing to to sell or use the import within Europe, having calculated the value of your USA import the next stage is to identify the Commodity Code for your imported good(s) or item(s) using this Trade Tariff database.

There is extensive guidance on how and why you must classify your imports with the correct Commodity code but assuming yours is a typical import from America use of the database will provide you with both the Duty & VAT % rate.

So now you’ve found the percentage rate the next stage is to calculate the import duty.

Import duty from USA to UK – How to calculate the duty:

The formula is very simple:

Import value in £ pounds x import duty rate %


You agree to import vacuum cleaners from America at an agreed ex-works price of $50,000.

Using the guidance above:

  1. Import value based on the published HMRC pound to dollar exchange rate of 1.2795 is: £39,077.76
  2. Duty rate for vacuum cleaners is 2.2%
  3. No preferential rate applies and the vacuum cleaners will be sold retail in the UK and some via your eCommerce website to Europe.
  4. Duty payable would be £39,077.76 x 2.2% = £859.71

If you prefer you can use an online calculator.

Import duty from USA to UK – Import

Does exactly what the website states, it’s a calculator that will estimate your import duty, VAT and incidental costs such as customs clearance fees.

Supporting imports from 9 countries including the USA. The only drawbacks with using the calculator are that the estimates are in euros so you’ll need to convert he resultant figure from euros to pounds.

Exchange rate from US Dollars updated daily, so accurate for estimating your import duty from USA to UK in euros.

Need finance to fund your next import or even pay your Import freight, duties & VAT?

Book a FREE, NO OBLIGATION call with one of our Trade specialists. They’ll analyse your trade and advise which, of the many solutions available, is right for you.

We guarantee unbiased options without sales pressure.

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Import duty from USA to UK-Exemptions & reliefs:

There are currently 8 circumstances where you might be exempt or pay a reduced import duty on your import from the USA.

These are detailed in the guidance note “Duty relief for imports and exports“.

Probably of interest to most ordinary importers who visit our website would be:

  1. Inward processing: Imports from the USA on which you’ll perform added value work and then re-export outside the EU.
  2. End of use: Certain types of goods are eligible for a reduced or zero duty based on the use they’ll be put to. The list is quite small and is predominantly around marine and military uses.
  3. Customs warehousing: For instance components imported from America that are not required immediately could be held in a customs warehouse and the duty suspended until you wanted to clear the goods and take delivery.

For detailed understanding, interpretation and deciding if one of the exemptions or reliefs to import duty from USA to UK is applicable we use the services of duty specialist. If you’d like a referral please contact us.


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