How do I start importing goods to the UK?

If you want to start importing goods from overseas, either to sell on or to process into new goods, a bit of pre-planning can really helpto smooth the way.

Here’s a few of our top tips to get you started:

Do your research

Whether it’s clothes to immediately resell or soya for your vegan food products, do your research to decide exactly what it is you want to bring into the country.

There are rules about what can be imported, and it’s important to make sure all the paperwork is correct. You need to make customs declarations on everything you import, and there might be excise duty or VAT to pay (more on this here).

Before you bring anything into the country though, you need to find a supplier. Don’t be tempted to just go for the cheapest quote you get – the quality might not be what you need, and the supplier might not be reliable enough to fulfil the contract.

Ask around, seek references and do thorough checks on anyone you are dealing with, and make sure there is no ambiguity in what you require. You also need to make sure the price you are paying leaves you enough of a margin to still make a profit.

Financial backing

Whatever you are importing, and wherever you are getting it from, you will invariably have to pay for the goods you import before you start earning money from them, and you could be out of pocket for a considerable time.

There are various ways you can cover this shortfall. The most obvious is to build up enough cash reserves to keep your business going until you get paid for your finished goods, but this isn’t always easy or practical, especially for a small business or one that is just getting established.

A loan can help you bridge the gap – the British Business Bank is government-backed and exists to help businesses with cash flow issues, and there are lots of options from traditional banks and investment companies. Your IT systems and bank accounts will probably need to be able to handle transactions in different currencies.

Other resource considerations

Money isn’t the only resource you need to consider. You will need to make sure you have enough staff to process the goods after they arrive, and get them out again to your customers. You might also need warehousing space, and a reliable shipping contractor in place.

You will also need someone who has enough knowledge of the rules and regulations to make sure your paperwork is in order.

A good freight forwarder like us can handle letters of credit, shipping documents and ownership of products, and can control freight until all documentation and payments have been concluded.

Take a look at our next article on the Global Freight Trade Academy to check if there are any restrictions on the items you want to import.

Or to have a chat with our friendly, knowledgeable team call 01952 270699.