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Importing from Hong Kong to the UK

 8:05 pm on Mar 16, 2005 (gmt 0)


I have found a very good supplier of my products in Hong Kong, however I am unsure about the shipping part of the process.

I presume I will have to arrange shipping. Can anyone recomend a good impirter?

Also how is Import tax calculated. Is it just 17.5% of the goods your bringing in, or is the shipping taxed as well, or is there a higher tax rate?

Any information would be appreciated.




 8:33 pm on Mar 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

UPS does offer this type of specialty service, although I have never used it. Goodluck!



 2:28 am on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have done importing myself and is familiar on how to do it on the US side. I imagin it to be the same around UK, So if you have any question feel free to email me.


 2:51 am on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Check out the info on the Customs and Excise web site here [hmce.gov.uk].

DHL are really good shippers for UK. Stay away from FedEx - good for US but bad for UK.


 2:53 am on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Surface or Air? I like air using a major carrier (i.e. DHL, FedEx, UPS) because you avoid most of the work involved with customs and import duties. But you also pay a lot more for the Air service.

Surface is less expensive, but it takes longer for you to receive it and more paper work is involved. You also need to make arrangements for your stuff to be delivered from the dock to you.

The supplier you work with may have local contacts you can work with to project costs.


 9:59 am on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)


So if I use a carrier such as DHL and they bring it in via air, I can avoid import tax?

Will it then work out cheaper than to bring it in than by boat or not?



 4:26 pm on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Air will cost you more since they handle the paperwork. If you owe import duties, they will ask you to pay it before delivery or send you a bill later to the amount due. Air is more expensive for surface, but your get your product faster with less paperwork.

For some products, the dimension and weight are small enough it doesn't cost more to ship via air. I ship some widges from HK via DHL and it only adds $0.50 to the wholesale price. So, it is worth it for me since I can turn it around very quickly.


 4:47 pm on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>I presume I will have to arrange shipping. Can anyone recomend a good impirter?

yes you will, but its all about volume, surface is much cheaper! you should be able to arrange door to door through any agent listed in the yellow pages, they will charge by the cubic metre.

>>Also how is Import tax calculated. Is it just 17.5% of the goods your bringing in, or is the shipping taxed as well, or is there a higher tax rate?

the rate depends on what the item is/are, some items such as fashion can have very high duty, the shipper will be able to tell you how much. do not assume 17.5 %


 8:24 pm on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)


thanks for all your reply's, so I'm going to have to find out the volume of the parcel(s) before I arrage shipping. Does this mean I will have to pay for the order, and have it boxed and ready to go before I can arrange shipping (surely the supplier wont want to work out the volume first, and wait for me to arrange shipping)

With regards to tax then, my products are nothing special, just accesories for a certain type of electrical widget.

Also, you say they may send me a bill, or demand payment upfront before they hand over the goods. Who decides this, is it the carrier or customs. I would personally rather be billed for it at a later date, but I have no objection to paying up front.

Also is the import duty reclaimable, like VAT on normal goods that I purchase from a wholesaler (I'm not actually VAT registered yet, but getting close to the threshold).

Thanks Again.


 8:55 pm on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

normally a supplier in hong kong will supply goods "at the factory gate" which means they will be cartoned/boxed up and need to be collected from his factory - your shipper will be able to arrange collection from him.

the hong kong supplier should be able to tell you the weight and dimensions of the box/es in advance. you might want to specify how you want the items packaged to save any problems later.

if you are having something custom made it is not uncommon to have to pay in full before they proceed to make it, if it is a product "off the shelf" then you would normally pay for it before your shipper collects it.

import duty is not reclaimable/deductable like vat, however it is part of the cost of the goods so is part of the cost to you which is deductable before tax.

note that there is vat on top of the import duty as well.

import duty is payable as we don't live in a free market economy! eg the duty is set to protect the home market.

the first time i imported something, it was only a small amount, i bought from a company recommended by the hk trade delegation in london, but i paid in advance what was to me a huge amount of money, it all went well and was very successful.

i wish you well too.


 8:58 pm on Mar 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

and duty must be paid at point of entry to this country before customs will release the goods.
(this will be sorted by the shipper - who may bill you in advance for this)


 6:13 pm on Mar 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Topr8,

Thanks for the info. What sort of percentage is import duty then? I'm just bringing in bog standard things (not fashion or anything high rate i shouldn't have though).



 1:36 pm on Mar 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

There is no specific answer to this question without knowing the type of product you plan to import. I suggest calling your local customs office with the type of products, and they will be able to tell you the rates. You might also get rate books (they are HUGE, and I mean it) somewhere in a library or even online in a database to check.

These books will say somethig like "Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) Player 3.2%" or "Parts for machinery, heavy 9%" etc...


 6:34 pm on Mar 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

as antirack says, duty is hugely variable and can be quite specific, you will need to get a quote from customs and excise (who are extremely helpful btw)

note also that the cost of shipping is also factored so that ..

you buy product x for 100 pounds which then cost 100 pounds to ship, if duty on product x is set at 10% you will pay 20 pounds duty, this is because the actual cost of the goods is calculated as 'factoy cost' plus shipping.
[ note that i haven't imported from china for a while, but i'd be suprised if the rules have changed ]


 12:00 am on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Greetings from Hong Kong. You can try and ask the supplier to arrange shipping for you. If they do high volume exports, they may be able to obtain favorable rates from Fedex, UPS, DHL or TNT. Otherwise the cheapest courier that offers door to door service is EMS. Do a search for "Hong Kong SpeedPost"

EMS charges by weight only whereas the others charge by both volume and weight. Sometimes you may be able to use bonus boxes. Going forward, if you really want to cut down on the costs of shipping, you must use a freight forwarder who will deliver the goods to your nearest airport. However you will have to collect the shipment and clear customs yourself but you can employ a local agent.

The import duty to the UK for electronics will be only be a few percent. Many suppliers will not declare the shipping costs anyway. You should start off with a small sized order until you know what their lead time and service is like. If you pay by T/T, you must make sure that you foot all the bank charges including those charged by their receiving bank.


 12:14 pm on Mar 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

You may also want to search for a freight forwarder. They will be able to forward your entire order into the UPS / DHL / FedEx system along with the rest of their consignment ... giving you a cost reduction with the knowledge that a reputable company is taking care of the shipment.

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