Last reviewed 14 April 2020

Some good news from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for any companies bringing medical supplies, equipment and protective garments into the UK from non-EU countries during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Full details are available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pay-no-import-duty-and-vat-on-medical-supplies-equipment-and-protective-garments-covid-19 explaining how it is possible to import these goods without paying import duty or VAT.

This relief can be claimed immediately (and until 31 July 2020) by:

  • state organisations, including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law

  • other authorised non-state bodies (who can request authorisation by contacting the National Import Relief Unit (NIRU) by emailing niru@hmrc.gov.uk for an application form).

Relief is available on imported goods for free circulation that are:

  • for distribution free of charge to those affected by, at risk from or involved in combating the coronavirus

  • to be made available free of charge to those affected by, at risk from or involved in combating the coronavirus outbreak, while remaining the property of the organisations importing them.

In addition, the relief will apply to imports of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other relevant medical devices or equipment for the coronavirus outbreak as well as goods imported into the UK for donation or onward sale to the NHS.

It should be noted that VAT on domestic supplies is not affected by this relief.

HMRC explains: “You must charge and account for VAT on the onward sale at the normal rate. We will be publishing further guidance on how to treat these supplies in your VAT business records.”

It also warns that it must be notified in advance if the goods stop being used by those affected by coronavirus as the owners cannot loan, hire out or transfer their goods, for consideration or free of charge, until that has been done.