Basic Importing Guide

Helpful tips and advice if you are thinking about importing.

Basic Importing Guide

Helpful tips and advice if you are thinking about importing.

So you are thinking about importing? There are a number of aspects of importing you should consider:

  • Who    have you found a company who makes and distributes the products you are looking for?
  • Cost    Have you factored in the costs of not only buying the goods but the process of shipping, customs tax and duties and marketing the goods?
  • UK    Have you checked any rules that apply for the import of that product or whether there is a UK market for the product/
  • Shipping    Have you found a Freight Forwarder to help you arrange the shipping process?

If you have a supplier overseas that you want to import from then this guide will walk you through some of the key aspects of the importing process. 

If at any stage you have any questions or confusion please do not hesitate to get in touch as we would be happy to answer your questions and talk you through the process.

Phone: 01392 369923



First steps when buying your products.

When you arrange buying the goods with your supplier you will need to determine what incoterms the goods are being shipped under.

Incoterms are international shipping terms which determine who arranges and pays for which aspects of the shipping process.  Below is the Incoterms chart, however the terms can be confusing so if you would like help and support in making this decision give us a call on 01392 369923.

Another important piece of information you need to determine before you start your importing journey is what the import duty rate is for your product. So you can determine the percentage of duty you will have to pay as well as VAT.

You can find this out by establishing the Commodity Code for your product (10 digit number).  Have a look at:  or you can call HM Customs help number on 01702 366077.

Or for more support with determining your commodity code, get in touch with our team who can talk you through the process.

It is also worth checking that your product does not come under the anti-dumping rules. For more information have a look at the government help and advice:

Getting a Quote

To get an accurate quote from your freight forwarder they will need the following information:

  • You will need to know your shipping terms (INCO Terms) to determine which aspects of the shipment will need to be arranged by your Freight Forwarder.
  • Discuss with your Freight Forwarder the different shipping options – You can send by Air, Sea and Road freight.  You also have the options of a full container (FCL) or to have your goods in a shared container (LCL -less than container load).
  • Ask your supplier for the weight and dimensions (height, width & depth) of the shipment.  This will allow your Freight Forwarder to calculate the cost of shipping the goods.
  • Let your Forwarder know if there are any time constraints that need to be factored in.  It is important to remember vessels often sail on a weekly basis and loading and unloading a vessel can take between 5 and 10 days on top of the duration of the journey itself.
  • The value of your products allows insurance to be included in your quote. There are multiple insurance options available to you. It is important to ensure you have the correct insurance for you.  Talk to our team to discuss your options or visit our website for more insurance information.

Always make sure you get your quote in writing as they often have a validity date and you want to know the quote you are given will still be accurate when you need it.

Shipping your Order

When you are ready for the shipment to go ahead you can instruct your Forwarder to proceed. They will then make contact with your supplier.

Your Freight Forwarder will require the following information from you:

  • Supplier contact information, including an address, contact number and name.
  • A commercial invoice which detail the goods being shipped, their commodity code and the gross value of the goods.
  • A packing list, this is a breakdown of the goods (for example if you are importing toys and have three different types in one shipment) and the nett weight of the goods.
  • An original or surrendered bill of lading.  This is a document from your supplier confirming they have received payment for the goods.  Your Freight Forwarder will require this before the goods arrive in the UK.

Your Freight Forwarder will then advise you of the vessel or flight your goods will be on and an expected ETA for your goods arrival into the UK. This date is subject to change and your Freight Forwarder will keep you informed throughout the process.

They will also be able to let you know the container number if you require this information for your records.

Check with your freight forwarder that the goods you are importing do not require any additional documentation or certificates.

Preparing for your shipment to arrive.

What to expect when your goods have reached the UK:

  • Your Freight Forwarder will advise you when your goods have arrived in the UK and will complete a customs entry on your behalf with the information you have given them.
  • You will be sent a VAT and Duty Invoice which will need to be paid immediately so H M customs can clear the goods.
  • You will also be sent a sales invoice.  The Freight Forwarder will need to receive full payment of this prior to the goods being delivered.
  • When your goods have cleared customs your Freight Forwarder will advise you of potential delivery dates for your goods.
  • When your goods are delivered it is important to check there is no sign of damage and sign for the delivery to confirm the goods have arrived.  In the unlikely event that the goods are damaged note this down when signing for the goods as this makes it easier to resolve.

If you have any questions about importing do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.  We are here to help and are happy to talk you through any of the process. 

Phone: 01392 369923


Isca Forwarding

Isca Forwarding are a UK based independent Freight Forwarder who have unrivalled logistics experience.  We provide international sea freight, air freight and road freight services for commercial businesses and the personal effects markets.


Unit 6 Newbery Commercial Centre,
Exeter Airport Business Park,


01392 369923          Email

© ISCA Forwarding Ltd. 2018

© 2018 ISCA Forwarding Ltd. All rights reserved.