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Are you struggling with heaps of paperwork before you plan to send your next shipment (Air Freight, Sea Freight)? Are you clueless about the new Customs Clearance rules post Brexit? Then it is time to understand the basics of Customs Clearance and how you can make the process easy for you and your business.

First, let us understand- What is Customs Clearance?

Customs Clearance is simply the act of moving goods through customs so they can enter the country. Customs Clearance is a necessary procedure before goods can be imported or exported internationally. If a shipment is cleared, then the shipper will provide documentation confirming customs duties that are paid and the shipment can be processed. To get further understanding, you may watch this quick video by HMRC:

Why do you need Customs Clearance?

Every country imposes import duties and taxes on goods crossing their borders. This helps to generate income, protect the economy and environment. Customs is a protective measure, put in place to ensure that nothing harmful to the country enters its territory.

Who is responsible for Customs Clearance?

Whenever you import over £15 worth of goods – whether that is for personal or commercial use – you will need to pay customs tax. While sending out a shipment, there are two main personas- the shipper and the Consignee. As each step of shipping has costs associated, it is important to agree between the parties who is responsible for which part before the shipment takes place.

How do you get Customs Clearance?

Clearing Customs is an essential step when you are importing goods to UK (or any other country). To put it simply, if your goods do not clear the Customs, they cannot enter the UK border.

If you are importing, most of the time, you may use a Freight Forwarder/ Customs Broker to take care of the process. But in case, if you are not, then once your goods reach the airport, the Customs Department will hold the goods and send you an invoice with the amount (to charge for Customs). Till the time, you do not clear the invoice, your goods will be held with Customs. Its best to pay as soon as possible- because the longer your goods are held with the authorities, the ore you pay for the storage as well!

How long does Customs Clearance take?

If there are no discrepancies in the documentation, UK Customs take some minutes or a few hours to let off the goods. Usually, at UDS, we take 1-2 days to deliver to your destination in the UK, after they are cleared off from the Customs.

What are the new rules of Customs Clearance after Brexit?

The UK has left the EU customs union, VAT area and single market. Until now, shipping between EU to UK did not require Customs Clearance. However, from 1st January 2021, one needs to get Customs Clearance approval for importing/exporting goods from UK to EU. Basically, same rules have been levied on EU to UK (and vice versa) like the rest of the world. Customs Declaration include appropriate tariff codes and the details of the contents of the shipment. The new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (PDF 8.40MB) (TCA) determines the terms of UK trade with the EU From 1 January 2021.

If you are still struggling with Customs Clearance, please feel free to give us a call at +44 20 8848 3308 to know more about the process.


Due to the crisis in the Red Sea, there may be considerable delays in transit times.

The shipping companies reserve the right to levy surcharges for new shipments as well as for shipments already shipped.

We will charge these 1:1 according to the display.