Customs Clearance

Arranging the shipment of your consignment is only one aspect of freight forwarding. Depending upon the nature of the goods you are shipping, there may also be UK import VAT & duty to pay upon UK customs clearance. If you import or export goods from or to the EU or the rest of the world, you will need a customs entry in place before your goods are permitted entry to the UK, or permission to exit the UK.

Compliant and Accurate Customs Clearances

At Mercator, we understand that compliance and accuracy is paramount when completing customs clearances on behalf of our clients.  We have been using the new Customs Declaration System (CDS) for our import clients since mid-September 2022 ahead of the deadline and working within the Government’s compliance lines.  We have our own in-house customs clearance software enabling us to handle all parts of the shipping process from door to door.

Here’s what we need to get the process started:

Import VAT & Duty Payments and Onward Deliveries

We calculate the rate of UK import VAT and/or duty to be paid and then arrange the payment on your behalf to HMRC in order to complete customs clearance.  Upon settlement of any customs charges, we then arrange for the delivery of your freight so your entire shipping needs are handled in a smooth end-to-end process.

Whatever the type of shipment and the port of entry, the operations team can call on a number of highly experienced haulage companies to organise the timely delivery of your shipment using our road or rail freight shipping services.

Customs clearance documentation

Mercator’s Customs Clearance Services

Mercator’s UK import customs clearance services cover every port and airport across the UK, so you can rely on us to arrange timely clearance and delivery of your shipment.

We also have direct links to all major and smaller UK seaports & Airports, meaning we can offer fast and efficient turnaround times for your import and export customs clearance requirements. We currently customs clear at (but are not limited to), the following ports:

Tariff Clarification and Advice​

Payments to HMRC


Onward Deliveries

Shipping containers on large vessel

Exporting from the UK

Mercator has software with direct links to the major UK ports allowing us to complete UK export customs clearances efficiently.  Teamed with our affiliation to the global freight forwarding network, MarcoPoloLine, we are able to arrange the clearance of your goods in almost any country worldwide, providing a complete end-to-end service.

Complete end-to-end freight solution

Through the global network of independent freight forwarders, Mercator is also able to offer export freight services, including advice regarding any local or destination country restrictions. In short, we can offer you the full package going from the UK through to your cargo’s destination country with ease. Depending on agreed buying terms, we can also arrange local duty and tax payments in your destination country.

Customs Clearance FAQ.

Customs Clearance in the UK is the notification to HMRC of goods entering or departing the country.  It is generally undertaken via specialist customs clearance software which links up to the ports in the UK and HMRC’s systems.

The requirement to pay import duties and taxes in the UK will depend on the nature of the goods you are importing.  Generally, import VAT (if applicable) is charged at 20% and duties will be applied according to the classification of the goods.  As part of our customs clearance service, we will calculate the total amount of import VAT and duty due.  You can either pay this directly to HMRC, or pay us and we will forward it on for you.

A commodity code is a universal classification system of goods.  Commonly, when you purchase goods from an overseas company, they will provide you with the commodity code(s).  You can look up codes and check UK VAT & duty rates here:

Yes, you will need to apply for an EORI number for your company.  You can do so here:

Thanks to our direct links with the major ports and airports throughout the UK, customs clearance can take a matter of hours.  This is reliant on the fact that you have provided all the information needed in advance and there are no extra checks required on your shipment.

A copy of the transport document (Sea freight – Bill of Lading; Road freight – CMR; Air freight – AWB); a copy of the commercial invoice detailing the commodity codes, incoterms i.e. FOB, CFR etc, value of the shipment and the currency; the routing of the shipment, including port of departure or arrival in the UK; and your company’s EORI number.

We require you to complete a “Letter of Direct Representation” on your company’s letterhead, this allows us to submit Customs Clearances for you.  Following the quoting stage, we will send you a template you can use for this purpose.

Depending on the nature of the consumables, you may require phytosanitary certificates, health certificates or licences to import.  If this is the first time you have imported food into the UK, then we would recommend checking what you need prior to departure.  Our team are knowledgeable and can point you in the right direction for any clarification required.