Importing from India to the UK: A Guide to Business

India is one of the biggest and most important trade partners with the EU

India is one of the biggest and most important trade partners with the EU and according to information from the European Commission for Trade, ‘EU-India trade grew from €28.6 billion in 2003 to €72.5 billion in 2014’. Moreover, India has special links with the EU and ‘enjoys trade preferences with the EU under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences’ meaning the EU is currently working to improve India’s trade and investment opportunities with the rest of the world.

Not only does this make India an exciting trade prospect for your business, but they also offer a wealth of different materials, goods and services for export. With the UK alone, India annually exports ‘$9.7 billion’ worth of goods, with clothing, machinery and electronic equipment among some of its biggest examples.

So if you’re considering importing from India and making the most of what this country has to offer, this useful guide from TNT shows you what you need to know to do this successfully.

India Fact File:

Official Language(s): Hindi and English
Currency: Indian Rupee
GDP: 7.997trn (estimate)
Calling Code: +91
Capital City: New Delhi
Largest City: Mumbai
Population: 1.3bn (estimate)


Shipping Options

Before you even begin to import your goods, you should consider how you intend to get them over to the UK. The distance between the countries would make air freight the fastest, and therefore most likely choice, however there are sea, road and rail options too. Really, this all depends on what budget you’re working with and the volume of the imports you want; you may find the slower but more affordable options are better for your needs.

Prohibited and Restricted Goods

Along with your shipping, you also need to check you’re not intending to import any prohibited or restricted goods. Both the UK and India have their own policies and procedures in place on goods such as firearms and certain animal and plant species. There are some circumstances where you can be allowed to import certain restricted goods into the EU but you’ll need an Import Licence.

For further information regarding which goods you can’t bring into the UK, you can consult this list on Also details about Import Regulations by India customs can be found here.

What you need for Importing

With your goods and/or supplier chosen, you then need to fill out the right documentation and follow the right procedures. Be aware however that as you’re importing from outside of the EU, there are more stringent processes to go through.


You need to have an Economic Operator Registration Identification (or EORI) number to import commercially into the UK. These can be used for communication with customs officials to identify your business. You can find out more and how you can apply for one here.


When importing you also need a commodity code which classifies and identifies what your goods are and shows what the correct tax and duty is on them. You can find the right code for your imports with the Government’s Trade Tariff search tool.


Ensure your business is VAT registered with HMRC. This is to make sure you only end up paying the UK VAT (of 20%) on your imports and not the Indian VAT on top of this. You’ll also need to complete a VAT return form and there are ways to reclaim VAT if your goods are for business use.

For all imports outside of the EU, you must declare them to HMRC. Do this using the Customs Handing of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system and then submit a Single Administration Document (SAD) which details your imports.

Commercial Invoices also need to be completed for your imports. These list lots of important information about what your goods are, their costs, addresses, VAT numbers and more. These are essential in making sure your items reach the right destination.

With destinations in mind, if you’re planning to move your imports on from the UK, then you might want to consider storing them in a customs warehouse to avoid higher duty and VAT costs.

Working with TNT

To make your imports from India easier and quicker, you can make the most of TNT’s Express Import Services. Our worldwide network covers over 175 different countries via air, rail, sea and road and we have the expertise and knowledge to get your goods imported from India on a timescale and budget to suit you. What’s more we can assist you with the technical aspects of your imports, streamlining the whole process and reducing the hassle for you and your business.