Importing from Hong Kong to the UK: A Guide to Business

Known as a world city, Hong Kong is a densely populated area.

The EU imports mainly machinery, transport equipment and telecommunication equipment from Hong Kong. If you’re thinking of capitalising on the wealth of goods that Hong Kong has to offer, then our guide to importing from the area will ensure that you do it safely, efficiently and successfully.


Hong Kong Fact File:

Official Language(s): Cantonese and English
Currency: Hong Kong Dollar
GDP: 271.62trn
Calling Code: +852
Capital City: None
Population: 7,234,800


Shipping from Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an area of China, so you need to think carefully about how you will ship your goods from that area of the world to the UK. There are a few different methods, including air, sea, rail and road that can cover this huge distance. Air freight will usually be the quickest method of getting your imports to the UK, but it will also be the most expensive. The other options may take longer, but they are cheaper. Sea freight is usually opted for in the instance of large orders, or orders of large items, though there are the additional costs of docking and unloading to consider.


Tax and Duty

As Hong Kong is not part of the EU, importing from here to the UK requires VAT and duty to be paid. Here you’ll find the details of what to do.



You need a commodity code to ensure that you’re paying the right amount of tax and duty. You can find it on the online Trade Tariff, and it will flag up any regulations, tax or duty that you need to pay on the goods that you’re importing from Hong Kong. The commodity code will also tell you whether the item is restricted, and whether you need an Import Licence.



Your business should be VAT registered, and when you’re importing from Hong Kong, you’ll need to pay VAT directly to HMRC. This ensures that you only pay the UK VAT and not the Hong Kong equivalent of VAT on top of that.

Declaring your Imports to Customs

Because you’re importing from outside the EU, you’ll need to declare your imports to HMRC. Using CHIEF, or the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system, you submit a SAD, or Single Administration Document. This records the declaration, flags any inaccuracies and tracks the goods through ports and airports. It also makes a risk assessment and decides whether the goods are checked or not.


EORI Number

Replacing the old TURN system, the EORI system is a means of communicating with customs officials, ensuring that they can identify your business effectively. Apply for one here.


Banned and Restricted Items

Along with making sure that you follow the rules and regulations when it comes to paying tax and duty, and declaring it to customs, you also need to make sure that you’re not shipping any banned or restricted items in to the UK. You can find a full list of banned and restricted items here.

Alternative Options

You can save time and money by instructing a third party like us here at TNT to manage your imports from Hong Kong. With air, sea, road and rail freight and 175 different countries in our network, we take a tailored approach to ensure that you get your imports on time and in budget.