Get an instant quote
Get in touch Listen to our podcast
Pay No Import Duties or VAT on Prototypes Imported for Testing

Pay No Custom Duty or VAT on Scientific Instruments or Apparatus

Rapid prototyping
and full-scale production
ISO accredited
& QC checks
All in-house
Used in over
50 countries
FREE Instant

Do you know that you can import scientific materials and apparatus for education or research to the UK without having to pay for customs duties and VAT? That’s right; there are a few exceptions that allow you to pay no customs duty or Value Added Tax (VAT). This means that, if you’re in the market for lab equipment, medical instruments, or any other scientific instrument, you could be saving a significant amount of money with this special exception. In this guide, we cover:


— Who Can Claim Relief?

— What Can You Claim Relief On?

— When To Claim Relief

— How To Claim Relief

— After You’ve Claimed Relief


Who can claim relief?

You can claim relief on Customs Duty and VAT if you are involved in either non-commercial: non-profit making education or non-profit making scientific research. This includes NHS teaching hospitals, public health laboratories, universities, government research laborites and so forth.


So what exactly can you claim relief on?

You can claim VAT relief if the scientific instruments and apparatus are used for medical or veterinary:

  • Research
  • Training
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment


This includes spare parts, accessories, components, etc. as long as its NOT for commercial use.

Avoid paying tax and customs duty on medical instruments


When to Claim Relief

You should claim relief at the time of import. However, If you did not do this at the time, you may still be eligible for a late claim subject to conditions.


How to claim relief

Getting approval

You do not need to get prior approval if you are: a university, an NHS teaching hospital, an approved college, or a public health laboratory. However, if you’re neither of the following, you must apply to the National Imports Relief Unit before you import the goods. They will then send you a form to fill in and return. If your application is successful, they will issue you with a certificate.


Documentations needed

You must present the National Imports Relief Unit certificate. If you’re also applying for VAT zero rating you must complete a seperate declaration. If you cannot produce supporting documentation, you must give us financial security – normally a cash deposit or a banker’s guarantee – to cover the duty and VAT before the goods are released.


Labelling the imported prototypes

Enter one of the following Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) on your declaration:


  • For goods imported by freight from outside the UK, enter the code, ’40 00 C13.’
  • For goods imported by freight from UK special territories, use the code ’49 00 C17.’
  • For goods imported by or on beheld of a scientific research establishment or organization based outside the UK to carry out international scientific research, and providing approval has been sought from National Imports Relief Unit, use the code ’40 00 C14.’
  • For goods imported by post, write ‘Scientific instruments – relief claim’ clearly on the package and its accompanying customs declaration (CN22 or CN23).


Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) on your declaration to claim relief on medical instruments


After you’ve claimed relief

What to do with leftover prototypes

For any products left over as a result of not using them in the tests or those not completely used up (including waste and scrap), you have three options. You can:

  • Pay duty and VAT
  • Destroy them free of duty and VAT with permission from the National Imports Relief Unit
  • Convert them into waste and scrap and pay any duty and VAT that may be due


Records you must keep

Keeping records is a part of any good practice. In this case, it’s a condition. Be sure to keep the records listed below for a minimum of 4 years.

  • Any National Imports Relief Unit acknowledgement letters
  • Receipts
  • Bills
  • Invoices
  • Insurance documents
  • Evidence of disposal

If you’ve transferred goods to another approved entity, re-exported the goods or have lost or destroyed the goods, be sure to keep their associated documents.

Home Banner

Put your parts in production today

Get an instant quote