This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

The government has announced a lifting of import duty and VAT on medical supplies, equipment and protective garments being imported to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

State organisations and other non-authorised state bodies can get relief on imported goods being distributed free of charge to help those affected by, at risk or involved in combating the coronavirus.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

“Waiving import taxes on vital medical equipment such as ventilators will speed up and increase the supply of critical items going to our frontline health workers.”

Goods being imported for donation or onward sale to the NHS are also eligible.

A full list commodity codes of the goods eligible for relief can be found here and relief can be claimed using the online CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) system.

You can read the full government announcement here.

IOE&IT campaign

The announcement follows a campaign from the IOE&IT this week calling for reliefs or deferments of import duty and VAT.

Director general of the IOE&IT, Marco Forgione, has written to the Chancellor saying such measures need to be introduced more broadly to ensure businesses can continue to operate during the outbreak.

“Such firms are already having to cope with declining demand, problems sourcing products and significant increases in transport costs,” Forgione wrote. “Deferment of import VAT will be an essential lifeline.”

You can read the full IOE&IT statement here.