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Importing into UK guide
(UK warehouse)

Shipwire is proud to offer existing customers and partners access to our UK Warehouse. To help smooth the process we recommend going over this orientation and business checklist as part of your entry into the European Market. Shipwire’s London, U.K. warehouse gives their customer retailers and manufacturers a direct line into the second of the worlds top 3 consumer markets, with no hassles and unified administration with their US and Canadian warehouses.

The London UK warehouse is your initial beachhead for the European Union marketplace. Your London facility is driving distance to Ireland, and a “chunnel” stop away from France, Brussles, Belgium and the Netherlands. No more Trans-Atlantic boat or expensive Air-Freight shipments.

While we are trying to make it as easy as possible, there are still some business hurdles that we’re here to help you work through. Contact us for help with import and Customs.

Getting ready for order fulfillment in the E.U.

Import and customs

  • London and the EU are not free trade between the U.S. To Import your inventory it will need to pass through Customs.
  • You will need to pay tax and customs duties. Look up customs duties and restrictions for your products.
  • The following forms are needed to clear customs
    • A completed C88 form: C88 is the customs declaration form all importers (or their agents) need to complete to declare goods to Customs. The form specifies information about the parties involved in the import, how the goods were transported, and statistical data. A paper C88 form presented manually is certified when presented by being stamped by a Custom’s official. Alternatively, details can also be submitted electronically via CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight), if used, Customs will issue an Entry Acceptance Advice in place of a stamp as proof that entry was accepted by Customs.
    • An attached copy of the supplier’s invoice (used for VAT)
    • Goods classified appropriately in order to ensure that the correct tariff is applied
    • Any special licenses that may be required
  • It can take a few weeks for inventory to clear Customs. Expect Import delays the first few times if you are using a 3rd party customs broker or freight forwarder. If your shipments are timely, take this into consideration.
  • Payment of customs duties: Once an import C88 has been submitted and accepted by Customs and Excise, any amounts owed are due. All duties and tariffs must be paid before they are released. Importers with goods arriving regularly usually pay by using a Deferment Account for them or their agent. You can also pay by Sterling traveler check, bank draft or company check.
  • For more information:

Contact us for help with Import and Customs.

Two ways to register with the UK Government

You will need one of two types of registration with the UK Government to import inventory in bulk. Whether you register your business with a local tax ID or get a customs and Import ID will depend on your specific business situation. Shipwire has partnered with local tax advisors in the UK. Contact Shipwire and we will send you their contact information.

Option 1) Business Registration gets you a local tax ID and your business will be able to operate as a U.K. business for VAT and tax. We cover this method id detail below as “Business Registration”.

Option 2) Non Registration Trade ID:

Before July 1. 2009 (we leave this up for consistancy), the second option is to get a Binding Tariff Information (eBTI) and then a Trader’s Unique Reference Number (TURN). TURN is a number required by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customers (HMRC) to allow importers and Exporters to obtain Customers clearance via the U.K.’s online CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) System.

Steps as we understand them (please comment on this article if you have more information).

After July 1, 2009, we understand that there have been some changes made to the TURN system to reflect a potentially easier method called an EORI Registration (Economic Operator Registration and Identification).

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Information on the HM Revenue EORI System.
  • Steps:
    • Do you qualify? Check the FAQ link right above; but, this is for non-UK businesses that want to import into the UK/EU without a business registration.
    • Apply: In order to obtain an EORI number, you must submit an application form. There are two ways you can apply, either by hard copy or electronically by email. Whichever method you choose the application form must be fully completed and signed by a responsible person within your business, ie director, partner or sole proprietor. If the information you provide is incomplete or inaccurate we will either return the application form to you or telephone to obtain the correct information.
    • Get the forms, fill them out and send them in.

      • Electronic Form (Form C220 electronic application); Hard Copy (Form C220A)
      • Fill them out: The form is made up of three sections. Sections A and C must be completed by all applicants whilst section B must be completed only by applicants who are either not VAT registered in the UK or are not established in the customs territory of the Community.
      • Send them in:
        • Electronic EORI e-mail submission address: You will need to download and save the application form (C220) as a Word document and complete the form as required. You will then need to email the completed application form together with scanned supporting documents if you have completed section B, to our EORI team in Cardiff via turn@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Please note: We will not accept hard or faxed copies of supporting documents for electronic applications.
        • Hard Copy applications: You will need to print off the application form (C220A) or obtain a form by telephoning the National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000. You must complete the form and send it by post, together with any supporting documents if you have completed section B, to the EORI processing team at the following address:

          HM Revenue & Customs
          EORI Team
          13th Floor South
          Government Buildings
          Ty Glas
          CF14 5FP

      • It can take a day or so: In most cases the EORI application will normally be processed within one working day of receipt by the EORI Team. It will take a further day to update our CHIEF and the EU EORI systems. You will be notified in writing of your new EORI number. In April 2009 when we expect a significant increase in the number of applications and at other peak periods we may take up to 72 hours. If you have not received notification by then you may send an email to turn@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.
    • If you already have a TURN ID or want to learn more there are lots of details here.
      HM Revenue EORI System.


Business registration

  • You must register your business with the local tax authorities.
  • Shipwire has partnered with local accountants if you would like a referral and a pre-negotiated package.
  • to do it yourself, go to the HM Revenue and Customs Business Site

Contact us for help with business registration.

VAT tax implications

  • If you have sold into the UK or Europe in the past and had product returned by end buyers because they received their purchase and a nasty VAT bill, you already know to watch out for Value Added Tax.
  • Moving product in bulk to your new London facility means you clear VAT once and establish the Import VAT base, by shipping it to yourself. You now know your base VAT tax obligation and can reprice your merchandise accordingly.
  • Shipwire has partnered with leading Tax experts in Europe to offer you competitive VAT Tax Quarterly and Annual returns to help you understand and learn to profit from VAT tax transfers in your business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) transactions.
  • Here is a great overview of VAT
  • HM Revenue and Customs if you would like to look at Netherlands Customs

Contact us for help with VAT Tax implications.

Setting up a UK presence

  • Shipwire cannot forward mail or phone number for your business. If you require mail forwarding or phone number, we recommend you use a service such as ThisIsYourOffice to setup a UK presence or contact the Shipwire accountant assistance referenced through this document.

Contact us for help with setting up a UK presence.

Delivering the goods

Shipping fees

Your shipping fees are denominated in US dollars. This means that shipping rates will fluctuate as the dollar fluctuates.


Options for movement of goods

Shipwire has been listening to your requests for more shipping options. Here is a list of shipping methods for the UK facility:

  • UPS Saver
  • UPS Expedited
  • UPS Standard
  • UPS Express
  • Royal Mail is comparable to the US Postal Service and Canada Post. Quickly Check rates.
  • Royal Mail First Class Large Letter
  • Royal Mail Second Class Large Letter
  • Royal Mail First Class Packet
  • Royal Mail Second Class Packet
  • Royal Mail Airmail
  • Royal Mail Airsure
  • Royal Mail International Signed For
  • Parcelforce 24
  • Parcelforce 48
  • Parcelforce International Datapost
  • Parcelforce Euro 48
  • Parcelforce Global Priority
  • Parcelforce Global Value

How to use the Shipwire platform
for your UK order fulfilment.

We recommend getting started on your business registration and VAT accounting first. Contact us for help with import and Customs.

Tell Shipwire you are sending goods to the UK

Sending your inventory to the UK is just as easy as sending your inventory to the other Shipwire warehouses.

Log into your acount, select “Store” from the Left navigation and click “Send to Shipwire” to create an Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN). Tell us what products you are sending and in what quantity. Please input your shipping tracking information and your expected delivery date to the warehouse.

Once your inventory arrives at the warehouse it will be measured, reviewed and inventoried. Once complete all inventory will be available for shipping.


You can instantly signup for a Shipwire account, and immediately enter orders. Your orders will simply backorder until your inventory is received in our UK warehouse.

Getting started quickly


Understanding pricing

  • Pay with PayPal, credit card or bank transfer
    • You simply pay a monthly fee + shipping . You can pay via PayPal, credit card, or bank transfer. Denominated in US dollars (convert £ to $, or convert € to $)
    • Monthly Fees – Your Shipwire monthly fees are denominated in US dollars. This makes running your business consistent and free of conversion issues. Customize a monthly plan.
    • Shipping Fees – Your shipping fees are also denominated in US dollars. In the case of Royal Mail, this means that shipping rates will fluctuate as the dollar fluctuates. Check rates.
  • Shipping 1 item from the UK is the same as shipping 1 item from Los Angeles. For example, say your monthly plan has 60 items. If you ship 1 item from the UK, and 1 item from the US, you have 58 items left in your plan.
  • Storing 1 pallet in the UK is the same as storing 1 pallet in Chicago. For example, say your monthly plan includes up to 4 pallets of storage. If you store 1 pallet in the UK, and 1 pallet in the US, you have 2 pallets of storage left in your plan.


How does Shipwire calculate currency rates?

The most readily available information on currency exchange rates is based on “interbank exchange rates.” Interbank exchange rates are established in the course of currency trading among a global network of over 1 000 banks, and are not available through consumer or retail channels. Consumers may use these rates as a reference, but should not expect to use interbank rates in transactions that involve currency conversion. To obtain actual retail rates, contact your local financial institution or currency exchange.

If your transaction involves a currency conversion, it will be completed at a retail foreign exchange rate determined by Shipwire, which is adjusted regularly based on market conditions.

This exchange rate includes a 3% spread above the exchange rate at which Shipwire obtains foreign currency, and the spread is retained by Shipwire.

Shipwire is proud to offer existing customers and partners access to our UK Warehouse. To help smooth the process we recommend going over this orientation and business checklist as part of your entry into the European Market.

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