Importing From South Korea to the UK: A Guide for Business

Responsible for nearly a quarter of the country’s exports. A strong economy post-World War Two has been built up through effective trading with its fellow Asian countries and the USA. Refined petroleum, cars, passenger and cargo ships and electronics make up some of the nation’s most popular exports.

Many businesses in the UK regularly import goods from South Korea as well. The EU and South Korea developed a free trade agreement in 2011, making importing into the UK a lot easier than from some other non-EU nations. If your business is hoping to start importing goods from South Korea then there is a lot of information you need to be acquainted with.

South Korea Fact File:

Official Language: Korean
Currency: South Korean won
Central Bank: Bank of Korea
Calling Code: +82
Capital City: Seoul
Largest City: Seoul
Population: 51 million

Steps to Take

When you’ve decided on what products will be imported from South Korea it’s essential you fill out the right documents and follow the appropriate procedures:

Find the right commodity code. This is required to ensure you pay the correct import duty on all goods coming into the UK. Use the online Trade Tariff tool to discover the right one as using an incorrect code can lead to a fine from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and seizure with a delay in the release of your goods from customs.

Check the trade agreement. Importing certain goods from South Korea can be done duty free due to the abovementioned free trade agreement.
Register your business for VAT with HMRC. Complete a VAT return form as you will have to pay this on importing goods but in some cases can later claim it back, such as if your intention is to move the goods on to another EU country later.

Pay VAT directly to HMRC at UK rates. In order to work out the value include the costs of importing (packaging, shipping, insurance etc.), duties and levies. Goods for business use can have VAT reclaimed with a VAT Return and an import tax certificate (form C79).

Declare all imports to HMRC. Register with the CHIEF system first and then submit a Single Administration Document (SAD, also referred to as form C88) through this system which details all the goods being imported and their movements.

Apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. This is important for declaring goods entering the UK too, and is issued by HMRC. It is used by all customs officials, including in those countries your imports may pass through on their way to the UK.

Consider customs warehousing. If the UK is not the goods’ endpoint, store them in a customs warehouse to avoid paying VAT or duty before moving on. VAT and duty is only paid when they are in free circulation in the EU, which may not be their final destination or could be cheaper in other EU nations.

Fill in Commercial Invoices. Where necessary these are needed to provide information about the products, costs, importer and exporter addresses and other vital details about the shipment. EORI, VAT numbers and commodity codes must be included.

Restrictions and Limits

There are restrictions on importing certain products from South Korea such as illegal drugs, self-defence sprays and rough diamonds. Certain goods require a special licence, like firearms and ammunition; while there can be limits on alcohol and other items including plants and food grown in South Korea. Check the UK government’s list of banned and restricted items.

Shipping from South Korea

Using TNT to manage your imports successfully and avoid running into trouble with our Express Import services. With a network spanning over 175 countries worldwide we are well equipped to deal with any specific requirements that may arise whilst getting your goods from South Korea and into the UK on time and in top condition.

Realistically the majority of imports from South Korea to the UK will be shipped via air freight, though sea and road are available too. Each benefits those with different budgets and timescales. Air freight is the quickest method with economical options available depending on size and speed required. Sea freight has a longer delivery process but is cheaper for the largest of shipments.

Make the most of TNT’s importing services to ensure you stay safe bringing in the required goods for your business from South Korea.