Government shares details of how firms will be able to make use of freeport benefits

Tue 21 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


The government yesterday (20 September) published fresh advice on how companies can make use of the UK’s new freeports, which could yet open this year.

Following a call for bids last year, eight freeports were announced for England in the March budget.

Tax benefits

The advantages of freeports for companies include duty exemption, VAT suspension and simplified customs procedures.

There are also tax benefits on business rates and national insurance contributions (NIC), as well as easier planning procedures.

New guidance

The new government guidance explains how a business can move goods into or out of a freeport customs site in order to:

  • get relief from duties and import taxes
  • use simplified declarations processes to reduce administrative burdens
  • choose which rate of customs duty to use if processing the goods changes their classification

Customs special procedure application

Guidance has also been published on when and how businesses can apply to use the freeport customs special procedure. Companies will need this if they intend to store or process goods in a freeport.

Applications for special procedures will open on 8 October 2021 and the government says it will update its guidance further then.

Declarations and tax

Further guidance has been published on how to declare goods and pay tax when using a freeport.

This includes detailed advice on:

  • Declaring goods brought into a customs site
  • Declaring goods removed from a customs site
  • Declaring goods moved between different customs sites
  • Declaring goods moved within the same customs site
  • Receiving goods from another customs special procedure
  • VAT on supplies in the customs site

Level up

It is hoped that the range of incentives and benefits on offer will attract firms to the selected freeports areas, which are generally those that the government is seeking to ‘level up’.

The eight freeports in England are:

  • East Midlands Airport
  • Felixstowe and Harwich
  • Humber region
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Plymouth
  • Solent
  • Thames
  • Teesside