Are you ready to import?

Understand what importing involves

Importing goods from overseas suppliers involves all the same issues as purchasing from suppliers in the UK. It's up to you to establish what you require, and find the right supplier. Check the supplier is creditworthy and can meet your quality standards. You'll want to check the supplier's subcontractors as well.

You'll need to negotiate deals and manage the relationship. All of this can become more complicated because of the distances involved and different languages, business cultures and legal environments. See our guide: manage overseas suppliers.

Check that any goods will suit your production processes and satisfy customer demands. There are also extra issues to consider, such as whether imported goods meet UK legal requirements or require an import licence. See our guides on licences and enforcement for international trading and do you need an export or import licence?

Resolving problems - such as incomplete deliveries - can be difficult, so it's important to plan ahead. For example, you might decide to hold extra stocks so that you don't run out even if a delivery is late or contains faulty goods. See our guide: manage the risks of importing.

Logistics and payment

There are also practical issues to consider. Depending on the contract you agree with your supplier, you might be responsible for clearing goods through UK customs. You might also need to arrange some of the transport and insurance, eg from a UK port to your premises. Draw up a clear agreement setting out each party's responsibilities and who is at risk if goods are delayed, damaged or lost while being delivered. See our guides on international transport and distribution and international trade paperwork: the basics.

Allow for of the extra costs involved, including transport, insurance and import duties and taxes. Whether you pay these directly, or through a mark-up added by your supplier, they can significantly increase the overall cost of imported goods. Use our interactive tool to understand your tax obligations when importing and exporting.

Payment issues can also be more complex, particularly if you are dealing in a foreign currency. See our guide to foreign currency and exchange risks.

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