Do UK Customs Open All Packages?

Understanding how UK customs works will help your business to be more organised and clear customs quicker. All goods entering a country have to be checked, the cargo inspected and approved, before they can be transported further.

Knowing what you will need before the inspection, what the cargo inspection will involve and what you can do to make the process easier, will only benefit your business.

Import Prohibitions and Restrictions

Various items are restricted or prohibited in the UK. This list exists for many reasons, for safety, to stop the spread of harmful bacteria and diseases and even different types of food and animals. Here is a list of goods which are forbidden or are import prohibitions of the UK, they include but not limited to:

  • Asbestos
  • Offensive weapons, including flick and gravity knives
  • Indecent or obscene material
  • Counterfeit money
  • Goods infringing origin and trademark
  • Goods made in prison
  • Soil
  • Straw
  • Eggs (birds not for human consumption)
  • The wool and hair of animals
  • Live animals, including insects
  • Certain plants, such as aubergine and mango
  • Rocket sprouts, soybeans and vegetable seeds, among others, (because of the risk of E. coli contamination)

There is also a list of items which are under import restrictions to the UK.  These include but not limited to:-

  • Controlled drugs
  • 2kg of infant milk
  • Horror comics
  • Indecent or obscene materials
  • Rice of U.S origin

How Cargo and Containers Are Inspected

When any package is sent internationally, certain checks are undertaken to make sure it doesn’t contain prohibited items.

Although HMRC can’t check all cargo, some are inspected based on paperwork or the country of origin, while x-ray scans are picked from random samples.

You can make this process easier by making sure all paperwork is prepared, as soon as the inspector arrives. This includes transportation documents, contracts and payment information. Now, you will have to unpack all the goods you have, so the inspector can see there are prohibited or restricted items presents. You will be under time restrictions and will have to repack all items when you’re done.

Once this is done, the goods can only be moved once you have the customs findings. This will be included in the customs declaration and digitally uploaded too.

Customs Charges in the UK

This depends entirely on how much the goods you are importing are worth. Tax and customs for imports include the price you paid for the goods, as well as insurance, posting and packaging. For goods worth under £135, there is no charge, goods worth £135 to £630 will receive a 2.5% charge and goods worth more than £630 will vary.

Exactly what you will have to pay will depend on the type of goods you are importing, country of origin and their value, but you will need to enquire with customs to get a better idea of what this will be.

Which Containers Do Customs Open?

When Is Cargo Checked or Opened?

When cargo arrives in the UK at the place it is going to be unloaded at,  it must be shown to customs in the first 3 hours. All paperwork needs to be finalised within 24 hours, so they can be reviewed at the inspection. It is worth keeping in mind that individual importers can declare their paperwork up to 4 days in advance, which can speed up the inspection process.

You can learn more about UK customs, or how our customs brokers can help your business clear customs efficiently, by contacting us today.