International VAT and Import Duties

Trading with overseas customers and suppliers has a wide range of VAT and customs duty implications. There are different implications depending on whether goods or services are involved, where the customer or supplier is based  and whether customers are businesses or not.

The University's VAT registration number is: GB 125 5067 30

The University's EORI number is: GB 125 5067 30 065

 

Import relief for medical equipment from National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU) may be covered by the current Duty Relief Certificate. More details on these reliefs can be found below.

 
DUTY RELIEF WHEN IMPORTING SCIENTIFIC APPARATUS

The University is considered an ‘eligible body’ for the purposes of education, as a result, it is entitled to a number of duty and VAT reliefs.  

The University now has a NIRU blanket approval for Scientific Equipment being imported for Medical Projects. This is valid for 12 months until 8 June 2023.

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Duty relief can be claimed on:

  • scientific instruments and apparatus;
  • spare parts, components and accessories specifically for scientific instruments and apparatus that have previously been imported under the duty relief scheme;
  • tools to be used for maintaining, checking, calibrating or repairing eligible instruments and apparatus. 

N.B. This relief is a Customs Duty Relief, not a VAT relief. Zero-rating for VAT purposes is available for certain items for use in medical research or training. The two separate reliefs can be used together if all conditions for both schemes are met – this allows the import of an eligible item effectively tax free. 

 

There are a number of restrictions in place that must be adhered to if claiming relief from duty when importing scientific instruments.

  • The University must keep control of and take responsibility for the goods and know the whereabouts of the goods at all times;
  • The goods must only be used for non-commercial research (i.e. non-business research) or educational purposes (e.g. they cannot be used in commercial research);
  • The goods may be lent, hired or transferred to another approved establishment (e.g. another university or college) but the Tax Team must be notified as the details need to be reported to HMRC;
  • If the goods are to be disposed of in any way other than those mentioned in the previous point, the duty may become payable. Again, the Tax Team must be notified.

 

  • If HMRC approve the duty relief on the import, a certificate will be issued which then needs to accompany the goods as they arrive in this country.
  • As both the approval from HMRC and then getting the certificate out to the supplier can take a little time, it is beneficial to consider whether this relief is of use before the start of the purchasing process, so as not to cause unnecessary delays to the delivery of the goods to the University.

N.B. Duty relief can also be claimed on scientific instruments or apparatus that are imported in baggage or by post. However, the method differs from that described above so for further information, please contact the Tax Team

 

PROCEDURE CODES AND ADDITIONAL CODES

In order to make use of import reliefs, it is vital to use the correct Procedure Codes and Additional Codes on import documentation.

A few of the most common reliefs that may be relevant to the University are laid out below. Ensure you understand the reliefs you are claiming, if you are in any doubt, check with HMRC or your freight forwarder or contact the Tax Team.

Use of these reliefs requires pre-approval from National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU).

For an overview of these codes, please see this guidance

STATUTORY CONDITIONAL RELIEFS

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This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers goods which are:

  • scientific instruments and apparatus imported for non-commercial purposes; and
  • imported into an EU country from outside the EU;

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.

Prior to importation an application form should be obtained from NIRU. This form should be completed and returned to NIRU who will issue successful applicants with a certificate.

A customs import declaration relating to the goods must be completed at the time of importation and submitted to Customs together with the relevant NIRU certificate.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF.

For further information see HMRC Notice 340.

 

This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers biological and chemical substances which are:

  • included on the list of eligible substances which may be amended from time to time;
  • imported by a public establishment involved in education or scientific research;
  • imported by a private establishment involved in education or scientific research and approved by NIRU to use this procedure;
  • imported into the UK from outside the EU; and
  • liable to EU customs duty and, where applicable, import VAT;

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.
Goods must be used for non-commercial research purposes only.

A customs import declaration relating to the goods must be completed at the time of importation and submitted to Customs. In addition, an eligible private importing establishment must present the NIRU letter of approval with the declaration. Public establishments do not require NIRU approval to use this procedure.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF. 

For further information see HMRC Notice 366.

 

This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers goods which are:

  • donated instruments and apparatus, their spare parts and
  • maintenance tools, imported for non-commercial purposes; and
  • imported into an EU country from outside the EU.

NOTE: For the purposes of this relief, "donation" also covers qualifying instruments and apparatus purchased with funds provided by charitable or philanthropic organisations, or with voluntary donations.

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.

Prior to importation an application form should be obtained from NIRU. This form should be completed and returned to NIRU who will issue successful applicants with a certificate.

A customs import declaration relating to the goods must be completed at the time of importation and submitted to Customs together with the relevant NIRU certificate.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF.

For further information see HMRC Notice 341.

 

This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers goods which are:

  • specially designed to be an educational, scientific or cultural aid to blind or partially sighted people;
  • specially designed to provide educational, employment or social help to people with disabilities;
  • imported into the UK from outside the EU; and
  • liable to EU customs duty and, where applicable, import VAT.

Some goods for disabled people are zero rated for VAT purposes. Goods which are not eligible for VAT zero rating can benefit from VAT relief if they are specially designed to be an educational, scientific or cultural aid to blind or partially sighted people or provide educational, employment or social advancement to people with disabilities.

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.

Prior to importation an application form should be obtained from NIRU. This form should be completed and returned to NIRU who will issue successful applicants with a certificate.

A customs import declaration relating to the goods must be completed at the time of importation and submitted to Customs together with the relevant NIRU certificate.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF.

For further information see HMRC Notice 371.

 

This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers goods which are:

  • only used as samples;
  • of negligible value; and
  • intended to obtain further orders for the type of goods they represent.

The term “negligible value” is not defined for the purposes of this relief, but Customs will attribute the term to goods whose only use is as a sample.

Relief of this type is not allowable for goods imported without the intention of gaining further orders.

This relief does not extend to goods which are consumed, destroyed, or given away to the public.

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.

A customs import declaration relating to the goods must be completed at the time of importation and submitted to Customs together with the relevant NIRU certificate.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF.

For further information see HMRC Notice 372.

This Procedure Code and Additional Code covers goods which:

  • are imported for testing to establish their composition, quality, or
  • other technical characteristics for the purposes of information or industrial or commercial research;
  • are imported into an EU country from outside the EU; and are
  • completely used up or destroyed during examination, analysis, or test.

Benefit: Non-payment of customs duty and/or import VAT

Conditions: Use of these codes covers only an individual import consignment of goods.

For goods liable to excise duty a minimum of 48 hours notice prior to import should be given in writing to NIRU showing:

  • Description and quantity of goods;
  • Place of testing; and
  • Date of testing.

NIRU will issue successful applicants with an approval note which should be presented to Customs at the time and place of importation to support the import declaration which must be completed on form C88. Security for the suspended excise duty is required, normally in the form of a bank guarantee.

For goods not liable to excise duty, no NIRU approval note or security is required.

The testing etc should normally be carried out by the importer, but it is possible to transfer the goods to another person. The conditions for relief must continue to be met, and NIRU must be given 48 hours prior written notice of the intended transfer.

On completion of testing NIRU should be provided with the following information;

  • Place of import;
  • Movement Reference Number (MRN) and date;
  • Description, quantity and value of goods;
  • Date of receipt of goods;
  • Details of tests (including address of testing and where records are located)
  • Date of completion of testing; and
  • Details of any remaining materials with the proposed method of disposal. Acceptable methods include destruction, reduction to scrap/waste, or exceptionally export outside the EU. Goods reduced to scrap/waste are liable to duty and import VAT at the rate applicable to the scrap/waste, which may differ from the rate suspended on importation of the goods for test.

Suspended duties and import VAT are payable if the imported goods are not put to prescribed use and disposal.

THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT OF THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO THIS RELIEF.

For further information see HMRC Notice 374.

INWARD PROCESSING RELIEF AND TEMPORARY IMPORTATION RELIEF

HMRC offer two schemes to allow temporary relief from Customs Duty and Import VAT when importing an item from outside the EC, depending on what the item is to be used for - Inward Processing Relief (IPR), and Temporary Importation Relief (TIR).

If these schemes are mis-used, even unintentionally, then penalty interest is payable in addition to the deferred Duty and VAT, resulting in a higher than necessary cost to the department.

There have been a number of occasions recently across the University that this has occurred and the scheme conditions broken. Therefore, although these schemes may be beneficial, please do not use them without first contacting the Tax Team who can assist you with this.
 

Contact Us


 : Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2JD

  : vatenquiries@admin.ox.ac.uk

  : 01865 (6) 16215

Reference


Tax Glossary