Power Forwarding's very own step by step guide on the process of importing in to the UK - highly recommended if you are a first time importer.

Please read our import guide as below for a step by step guide for importing in to the UK.

1) Assuming you have found your supplier and done your due diligence checks to ensure their legitimacy the first thing you want to do is ensure the supplier will agree to shipping under FOB terms from their nearest port as this will greatly reduce your shipping costs and give you more control over the shipment.  This essentially means the shipment passes from the suppliers control to your control once loaded at port of export.  So for instance if you were importing from China and the closest port to the supplier is Shanghai, you would request FOB Shanghai terms, if closest port to them is Ningbo then you would request FOB Ningbo terms.

2) You will now need to find a freight forwarder (hopefully Power Forwarding!) to get a quote and arrange the movement of the cargo, you should where possible get a full breakdown of the charges and ensure that this is a fully inclusive price (excluding duty / VAT as this will obviously depend on what the goods are / value of goods etc).

3) Once happy with the quote you will need to send us / the forwarder your suppliers contact details.  Once received we will then get our guys at origin to contact the supplier and arrange the movement asap.  Between the supplier and our people at origin they will sort out export arrangements.

4) Goods set sail!  This is where the long wait comes as shipping by sea typically can take anywhere between 20 days to 40 days depending on where the shipment is coming from.  There is very little to do in this time other than wait.  Our people at origin will have issued you a bill of lading once the goods sailed which will have all relevant details pertaining to the shipment, this is a very important legal document giving the holder legal title to the goods.  There are two ways the bill of lading can be issued as below:

  • Originals being posted to the supplier who on receipt of payment will then post on to yourself (the customer) where you will then have to present one of the originals (usually you receive three originals and a whole bunch of copies) to the forwarder (us).  Once we receive this we are good to release the shipment over to yourself.
  • The other way of handling the bill of lading is if a telex release bill is issued which is just essentially an electronic release which tells us that the supplier is already paid and happy to have the shipment released on an email / fax copy.

5) EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) – This is required for all commercial imports in order for us to clear your cargo through UK customs, if it is a personal effects shipment then this is not required.  The actual application is very easy only requiring some minor details and generally takes 2-3 days to process at no cost.  Once you have the number you will need to let your forwarder / us know it so we can enter the goods to customs and find out the duty / VAT due.

6) Customs Clearance – We will enter the cargo in to customs for clearance, we will require a commercial invoice, packing list, your EORI number and a copy of the bill of lading.  Once we enter these documents and find out the duty / VAT due we will send you an invoice for total charges.  Once paid we will customs clear the cargo.

7) Once vessel arrives, the container it arrived in needs to be unpacked (only true for LCL, FCL shipments will be delivered directly in the container).  Once the cargo unpacks at the local depot (near the port in most cases) the goods will hopefully be ready for delivery / collection assuming customs clearance has all gone through without a hitch.  Generally once cargo unpacks at the warehouse you are usually provided with 7 free calendar days in which to get the cargo out, this is usually no problem unless reasons beyond our control have occurred such as customs pulling the shipment for examination.

8) Delivery – The goods will be sent often in large articulated vehicles so you need to ensure there are no road restrictions, goods can often be sent on smaller vehicles at a small extra cost.  Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that the drivers are not insured to unload your goods and it is down to yourself to arrange this.  Often a tail lift can be arranged at a small extra cost again but if you have or can organise to use a forklift then this will save that worry, if it’s a small / lightweight shipment then you are likely going to be fine just hand-balling it off the vehicle.  Once received, you’ll need to sign the paperwork and voilà! you have successfully received your shipment.