Importing Freight from Germany to the UK 2024

Opportunities and Challenges:

Importing freight from Germany into the United Kingdom (UK) is a complex but essential aspect of international trade.

The strong economic ties between these two countries have resulted in a significant flow of goods across the North Sea.

However, with the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) through Brexit, there have been notable changes in the import process that businesses need to navigate effectively. In this article, we will provide an in-depth guide to importing freight from Germany to the UK, addressing key considerations, challenges, and best practices.

Preparing for the Import

Understanding the Customs Union

One of the significant changes post-Brexit is that the UK is no longer part of the EU Customs Union. This means that customs checks and controls are now applicable to goods moving between the UK and the EU member states, including Germany. As a result, businesses must be well-prepared for customs procedures.

Obtaining an EORI Number

Before importing goods from Germany, UK businesses need to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. This unique identifier is essential for customs declarations and interactions with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Customs Declarations

Importing from Germany Post-Brexit

Customs declarations are a fundamental part of the import process. When importing goods from Germany to the UK, businesses need to provide detailed information about the products being imported. This includes their classification, value, origin, and other relevant details.

VAT and Customs Duties

Businesses must also be aware of the VAT and customs duties that may apply to their imports. VAT is charged on most goods and services in the UK, including imports. Customs duties, on the other hand, are taxes imposed on imported goods and are calculated based on factors such as the goods' classification, value, and origin.

Tariff Preferences

Understanding Tariff Preferences

Tariff preferences are crucial for businesses looking to reduce customs duties when importing goods from Germany. These preferences are based on trade agreements between the UK and Germany, as well as the UK's trade agreements with other countries.

Origin Criteria

To benefit from tariff preferences, businesses must ensure that the imported goods meet the specific origin criteria outlined in the trade agreements. This often means that the goods must be produced or substantially transformed in Germany to qualify for preferential tariff rates.

The Role of the Statement on the Invoice

Importance of the Statement

A crucial element in claiming tariff preferences is the inclusion of a Statement on Origin on the invoice accompanying the imported goods. This statement serves as a declaration that the goods meet the origin criteria required for preferential treatment.

Elements of the Statement

The Statement on Origin should contain essential elements, such as:

  1. Exporter's Details: Including the name, address, and contact information of the exporter in Germany.

  2. Importer's Details: Including the name, address, and contact information of the importer in the UK.

  3. Goods Description: Providing a detailed description of the goods, including their classification, quantity, and value.

  4. Origin Criteria Declaration: Stating that the goods meet the origin criteria as per the relevant trade agreement.

  5. Authorized Signatory: Ensuring that an authorized person signs and dates the statement.

  6. Statement Format: Using the correct format and wording as specified in the trade agreement to ensure compliance.

Documentation Requirements

Complete and Accurate Documentation

Accurate and complete documentation is essential for the smooth importation of goods from Germany to the UK. The required documents may include:

  1. Commercial Invoice: Providing details of the transaction, including the value of the goods.

  2. Bill of Lading: Serving as proof of ownership and receipt of the goods.

  3. Packing List: Detailing the contents of each package or container.

  4. Certificate of Origin: Certifying the origin of the goods.

Customs Clearance

Facilitating the Process

Customs clearance is a critical step in the importation process. It involves presenting the necessary documentation and paying any applicable customs duties and taxes to enable the goods to enter the UK legally.

Potential Delays

Customs clearance can sometimes be time-consuming, especially if there are discrepancies in the documentation or issues related to the goods' origin. It's essential for businesses to plan for potential delays and ensure that their paperwork is in order.

Transportation and Distribution

Last-Mile Delivery

Once the goods have cleared customs, the next challenge is to coordinate their delivery to their final destination within the UK. This is often referred to as "last-mile delivery" and involves the use of local transportation and distribution services.

Warehousing Options

Businesses may also need to consider warehousing solutions if they require temporary storage for their imported goods. Many logistics companies in the UK offer warehousing services, providing a secure and convenient option for businesses.

Risk Management

The Role of Insurance

Risk management is a crucial aspect of international trade. Businesses should consider obtaining appropriate insurance coverage for their imported goods to protect against unforeseen events or accidents during transit.

Risk Assessment

Conducting a thorough risk assessment is essential to identify potential challenges in the importation process. This includes assessing risks related to transportation, customs procedures, and the political and economic environment.

Cost Estimation and Budgeting

Hidden Costs

Importing freight from Germany to the UK involves various costs beyond customs duties and taxes. These may include storage fees, demurrage charges, and transportation surcharges. A comprehensive budget that accounts for all these expenses is essential for effective financial planning.

Cost Breakdown

Breaking down the costs associated with importing freight allows businesses to understand where their money is going. This detailed breakdown enables them to identify areas for potential cost savings and optimization.

Legal Considerations

Contracts and Agreements

Clear and legally binding contracts and agreements are crucial for businesses engaged in international trade. These contracts should cover aspects such as payment terms, delivery schedules, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Compliance with Regulations

To avoid legal issues that could disrupt the supply chain, businesses must stay updated on import regulations and compliance requirements. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in fines and delays.

Post-Importation Steps

Record Keeping

Maintaining accurate records of all import transactions is essential for future reference and compliance audits. Proper record-keeping helps businesses track their import activities and ensures they have the necessary documentation on hand when needed.

Disposal of Packaging

Businesses should also consider the responsible disposal of packaging materials used in the importation process. Compliance with environmental regulations is crucial to minimize the impact on the environment.


Importing freight from Germany to the UK is a multifaceted process that requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and effective risk management. With the changes brought about by Brexit, businesses must navigate customs procedures, understand tariff preferences, and ensure proper documentation to facilitate the importation of goods. By following the steps outlined in this detailed guide, businesses can overcome the challenges of importing and reap the benefits of international trade.

In a rapidly changing global landscape, staying informed about trade agreements, customs requirements, and logistics best practices is essential for businesses engaged in cross-border trade. Properly documented imports not only ensure compliance with regulations but also contribute to cost savings and a streamlined importation process.


  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing List
  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Customs Clearance