Are you about to import (or export) products between the UK and Vietnam? You still have a doubt regarding the regulation or transport method? This is because it is very difficult to find decent information among the ton of online advice that FNM Vietnam has done its “country guide”.

1) What is the best method to ship your goods from Vietnam to UK?

UK is currently representing the second major economy in the European continent after Germany. Its great population of more than 60 million consumers is attracting worldwide investors to do business in this dynamic market. Composed by two major islands, the United Kingdom is deeply relying on ocean freight to link its insulated territory to the rest of the world. The country has a deep history of water navigation, which explains its numerous busy sea ports bordering the coast. To diversify its transport infrastructures, the UK also invested in different other transport solution. Among all of them, the most original is the Eurotunnel, which connects directly UK to Europe, by the north of France. Air transportations are also well-developed and numerous international airports are welcoming global passengers and freight. It is not clear how the economic future of the country will be shaped, as the Brexit is still on the line. To maintain its economical interest, UK may join the CPTPP or have its own FTA with Vietnam and other countries, in case of leaving from the European Union.


1.1) Sea freight shipping from Vietnam to UK

1.1.1) Overview - Ocean cargo from Vietnam to UK

The ocean freight flows in the UK are well shared between the numerous sea ports bordering different coasts and countries. The strength of the UK ports, despite their individual small sizes, is the greatness of their total traffic, if you’re combining all them together. In 2017, 471 million of tonnes of cargos were handled in the UK, for instance. UK is very spirited in terms of sea transportations. The biggest economical partners of the UK are the EU and internationally China. Vietnam comes at the 22nd place.

Another particularity in UK is that their ports are also greatly exchanging between them. Here is a list of the busiest ports in the UK (by quantity):

  1. Grimsby & Immingham
  2. London
  3. Southampton
  4. Liverpool
  5. Milford Haven


1.1.2) Shipping company offering services from Vietnam to UK ports

logo shipping company maerskLogo shipping company CMA CGMLogo shipping company coscoLogo company msclogo MOL shipping companylogo shipping company evergreenlogo shipping company hapag lloydLogo company K line Port of Grimsby & Immingham

Grimsby & Immingham is among the 3 busiest ports of the Kingdom. It is a key port for the UK imports. 54.4 million of tonnes were administered in G&I in 2016.  It is the 2nd port of the country in terms of Roro cargo, the 3rd in terms of oil products and the 5th for the liquid bulk. In 2016, it administered 16 million of tonnes of Roro cargo, 12 million of tonnes of oil products and 19 million of tonnes of liquid bulk.

75% of the shipments handled are imported in this port. Only 10% of the shipment are traded with other domestic ports. Half of the goods handled are exchanged with the EU and 25% with international destinations. Port of Liverpool

Like Grimsby & Immingham, port of Liverpool is equally focused on imports with 75% of the cargo managed imported. The majority of the exchanges through Liverpool are made with the EU and international ports, only 20% are made with other UK ports. Liverpool is the 4th largest UK port for Roro cargo, and the 7th for liquid bulk. Respectively 11 million and 8 million of tonnes of liquid bulk and Roro cargo were handled there in 2016. A total of 32 million of tonnes of goods were handle in Liverpool during the same year. Port of Forth

Cargo flows in Port of Forth are largely oriented on exports, with 80% of the goods’ flows leaving the port, and only 20% entering in the port. 23 million of tonnes of liquid bulk were managed there, which is making Forth the second biggest port in the UK for this type of goods in 2016. Still in this category, Oil products represented 6 million of tonnes in 2016, which ranks Forth at the fifth national place for oil products. In this port are also handled 16% of UK Liquid and Natural Gas (LNG).

10% of the goods managed are coming from UK, 30% from the world and 60% from the EU. They were 27.5 million of tonnes handled totally in Forth in 2016. Port of Tees & Hartlepool

Like Forth, Tees & Hartlepool ports is widely oriented on exports, which is representing 66% of the port’s flows. With a management of 20 million of tonnes of liquid bulk in 2016, it is the 4th busiest port of the country for liquid bulk cargos. 75% of the shipments managed in T&H are liquid bulk, the other cargo are mostly dry and Roro cargos. 10% of the flows in T&H are made with Mediterranean countries, 20% with international destinations, 24% with domestic ports and 55% with the EU. T&H managed a total of 27 million of tonnes of shipments in 2016. Port of Felixstowe

Felixstowe is a more balanced port compared to the previous detailed, with 55% of the goods handled being imported and 45% exported. Only 25% of the goods traded in Felixstowe are exchanged with the EU, and only 1% are shared with other domestic ports. The vast majority of goods are traded with international ports. Also the Lolo shipments are part of 90% of the cargo handled there, the other 10% being Roro shipments. In 2016, a total of 28 million of tonnes of goods were administered there. Port of Southampton

Port of Southampton is also one of the busiest ports in UK. 36 million of tonnes of goods were handled in Southampton in 2016. Its trade flows are very balanced internationally and inward/outward also. 45% of the goods are entering while 55% are departing from Southampton. It is the 3rd most important UK port for liquid bulk, as 20 million of tonnes were handled in 2016. 9 million of tonnes of this liquid bulk are oil products, which is ranking Southampton 4th in UK for this category of goods. 55% of the goods administered in Southampton are liquid bulk. A big part of the other goods handled there are Lolo cargo, as high as 30%. Port of London

London is one of the major UK ports for exports, which is representing 85% of the port flows. Half of the flows are exchanged with the EU, 20% with other UK ports and the rest with international destinations. For Roro cargo, it is the third port of the UK, with 8 million of tonnes administered in 2016. It is also the 6th busiest port of the Kingdom for liquid bulk, with 15 million of tonnes managed in the same year. 13 million of tonnes of the same liquid bulk products, were oil products, which makes of London the 2nd biggest port for oil management in the UK. A total of 50 million of tonnes of goods were administered there in 2016. Port of Milford Haven

Milford Haven is also one of the largest ports in the UK. It is the first for liquid bulk cargo, with 33 million of tonnes administered there in 2016. 55% of all the LNG in UK is flowing through Milford Haven and it is 97% of the total cargo handled here. 35 million of tonnes were administered through Milford Haven in 2016. Goods in Milford Haven are traded in equal proportions with the EU and the non-EU Mediterranean countries, a large part is also traded with international destinations. Port of Dover

Dover port is the 1st UK port for Roro handling in 2016, with 27 million of tonnes administered. All these goods are traded entirely with the EU and is exclusively composed of Roro cargos. Quite balanced, 45% of the flows are export and 55% are import.


1.1.3) Should I ship by consolidation or full container from Vietnam to UK? What is LCL?

There are two methods to manage goods in a container, and LCL is the first one. LCL stands for “Less than a container Load”, which means that your shipment will not fully load the container. In order to optimize the container space, other small shipments will be consolidated to yours in the container, so the container will travel full. In addition to being space-saving, it is more economic because the total volume in the container will be fairly charged to all the shippers/consignees. You will only pay for the space you’re using. What is FCL?

FCL is the second method used to manage containers’ inside. Contrarily to LCL, there is only one shipment fulfilling the container. This method is privileged and interesting for voluminous shipments. By voluminous, we’re talking about shipments larger than 15 CBM. In which conditions is FCL recommended?

There are two situations where FCL is preferred as LCL:

  • The first is when your shipment is large or heavy enough to fulfil it entirely
  • The second is when your volume is big enough to be financially more advantageous than LCL, depending on the carrier How can I determine which solution is better appropriated?

If you’re still unsure what you must choose between the two methods, here is a table summing up the benefits and drawbacks of each:

The transfer will be shorter in time than LCL Ideal for small shipments
You’ll pay less on a CBM basis than LCL You will not have to decant and unload the container
Your goods will only be manipulated by the shipper and the consignee You’re only paying for what you’re using
It is your responsibility to decant and unload the container Prices are higher than FCL on a CBM basis
It isn’t shaped for shipments below 10 CBMs Always longer than FCL, due to the consolidation and splitting process
The decanting of the container requires skills and labour Numerous handling phases are necessary

1.1.4) How long does it take to ship from Vietnam to UK by sea freight?

HCMC Quy Nhon/Da Nang  Hai Phong
Orkney / Sullom Voe 35 days 41 days 30 days
Aberdeen / Forth 35 days 41 days 30 days
Tees & Hartlepool / Grimsby & Immingham 34 days 40 days 29 days
Felixstowe / Dover / Medway / London 30 days 40 days 29 days
 Portsmouth / Southampton / Plymouth 32 days 39 days 28 days
Bristol / Newport / Milford Haven 35 days 39 days 28 days
 Liverpool / Manchester / Heysham 40 days 40 days 29 days
Warrenpoint / Belfast / Larne 36 days 40 days 29 days
Loch Ryan / Glensanda / Clyde 36 days 40 days 29 days

*This transit times are just approximate; our consultants will provide you further details if you are interested.


1.1.5) How much does it cost to ship a container from Vietnam to UK?

*In general, sea freight is the most preferred transfer method by British importers. It is justified because it is the most cost-effective method for large and regular shipments.

This explains largely why most of the cargos between Vietnam and UK are transferred through ocean freight. Air freight is becoming greatly expensive when your shipment is above 1 CBM and 100 kgs, and because of geography, rail freight isn’t existing yet between the two countries. Despite being much longer in times to deliver, sea freight is by far the most cost-effective solution between the two countries.

1.1.6) Special sea freight services Reefer container from Vietnam to UK  

Reefer containers are well-appreciated and used in the food and chemical industries. It is explained because great quantities of goods, that requires special environmental conditions to be stored, can be transferred in a container where the temperature and humidity rates are constantly monitored. Between both continents, FNM Vietnam can book and plan your reefer container freight. Roro/Bulk/OOG from Vietnam to UK 

Roll-on/Roll-off vessels, called “Roro” for ease in the shipping industry, are built similarly to ferry ships. In their end, a retractable ramp is enabling to load great volumes on goods transported on platforms or on trailers. The automobile industry is largely using this method to transfer vehicles worldwide. All types of vehicles can be loaded inside Roro vessels, like cars, trucks, buses, pleasure boats…

Bulk is a method of transport used by many sectors, that are requiring to transport great quantities of raw products. Agriculture, energy, and many other industries are largely using it. There are mostly two types of bulk cargos, solid and liquid. Bulk cargo ships are boats composed with several large tanks that can be fulfilled with great quantities of raw shipments like cereals, corn, ores, wood for solid bulk, and fuel, gas, oil, for liquid bulk.

OOG cargos is another particular category of goods. OOG means “Out of Gauge” which is designating all sorts of elaborated goods that can’t be loaded inside a traditional container due to their weight or dimensions. These kinds of cargos are generally charged on a platform or a trailer to be transported. By sea freight, they can be loaded on the last stage of container ship or inside Roro vessels to navigate through the world. Because of their volume, they need to be handled with the greatest care.

1.2) Air freight shipping from Vietnam to UK

1.2.1) Overview – Classic vs Express air freight

As you may think, the major difference between express and classic air freight is the necessary time to deliver your goods. The time delay between courier (express) and classic is mostly due to the customs clearance process. In Express air freight, the clearance is done by the express company in its facilities, which is needing a few dozen of minutes at most. For Classic air freight, the customs clearance is made the traditional way, which is requiring several hours or days in extreme cases. So, for express air freight, 4 days at most are required to deliver your goods, while at least a week is necessary for a classic air freight.

Classic Air freight Express air freight (courier)
More flexible than Express The quickest transfer method on earth
More competitive than courier for large volumes Mostly used and suitable for small cargo
Faster than maritime freight Very efficient process to clear your goods
Prices per CBM are decreasing in function of the volume  
You will only pay for the space you require
Need more time than express freight The most onerous way to transfer goods, especially for voluminous shipments
Ocean freight is cheaper  
Some kinds of goods are refused due to their hazard (lithium batteries…) What should I choose between courier air freight and classic air freight?

It is again a matter of dimensions and weight. First of all, Air freight comes with more benefits than ocean freight for goods that are smaller than 2 CBM and 150 kgs. Between courier and regular air freight, the second is usually more advantageous for shipments larger than 0.5 CBM and heavier than 30 kgs. Below these numbers, express air freight is more competitive. What is the difference between volumetric and gross weight?

*For classic air freight, two different methods are used to sort out how you will pay for you shipment’s transfer. It enables company to consider the density of your items.

Gross and volumetric weight are those two methods, the airline will calculate your shipment weight with the two methods, and the biggest results will be kept rating your cargo. It’s easy to determine and you can also do it by yourself to estimate. The two pictures below are showing the way to determine each result:

how to calculate gross weighthow to calculate volumetric weight

1.2.2) Should I choose a Classic Air freight from Vietnam to UK? Which airlines company should you ship with? How long is the transfer from Vietnam to UK by air freight?

On door-to-door, between the airports in Vietnam and in UK, around 20 hours are necessary to transfer your goods. If a pickup and a delivery at place are required, further time will be needed to transfer your goods. How much does it cost to ship a parcel from Vietnam to UK?

Like ocean freight, numerous different parameters are influencing your freight cost, so it will not be accurate to provide you an estimated price. We’re still quoting each air freight request individually, so we will provide you the best rates based on the information you provided to us. Don’t hesitate to reach our freight consultants, to know how much will cost our air freight services.    


1.2.3) Should I choose an Express Air freight from Vietnam to UK? Express service – Perfect solution for small package

As detailed before, classic air freight is competitive for shipments big enough, but for small shipments, express is the most competitive and efficient transport solution. Express air freight is mostly recommended for shipments lighter than 25 kgs and tinier than 0.5 CBM. And it is still unbeatably the quickest freight solution of our times. Despite being advised for small shipments FNM Vietnam can still book express air freight for voluminous shipment, if absolutely required. How long does it take for a package to be shipped from Vietnam to the UK?

The plane travel duration is still the same between courier and regular air freight. It’s only the other steps of the process that are better accomplished by express companies, which explains why it is quicker. So, 4 days at the most are needed for courier companies to deliver your goods at your address in the UK, considering the shipment was taken in charge at the shipper’s location. How much an Express service costs from Vietnam to UK?

*A different way to proceed is used by courier companies to quote the freight of your goods. Differently than gross and volumetric weight, the ratio used is 1 CBM = 200 kgs

As you may have understood, no matter what the freight method is, it is always difficult to provide average rates to customers. Express is not spared from this rule, as many parameters needs to be taken into account also. Once we’re informed enough on your requirements, we will be able to build a detailed quote tailored to your needs. We will provide it to you in the best time right after. Also, we have very attractive rates with the courier companies. You will not be offered such competitive prices if you’re reaching the express carriers on your own. This is explained because we’re providing them great volumes of goods each weeks, that enables us to have discounts.

1.2.4) Major airports to ship in UK

London Gatwick Airport

97 thousand tonnes were administered in Gatwick airport in 2017. A huge part of this cargo volume (94.9 thousand tonnes) has been traded with international countries, while only 1.8 thousand tonnes were involving the EU. The rest of the cargo was shared with other UK airports. Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is the most important freight airport of London. In 2017, 1.7 million tonnes of cargo were administered in London Heathrow. Among all these shipments 1.58 million tonnes were exchanged with international destinations, while 111 thousand tonnes were shared with countries within the European Union. All other shipments were traded with domestic destinations. Stansted Airport

Stansted is the second busiest London airport, far after the tremendous Heathrow Airport. 2017 has been a busy year for Stansted, with 237 thousand tonnes of goods managed. A majority of goods were traded with other international airports, representing 161 thousand tonnes of goods. With the EU the exchanges were of 75 thousand tonnes in the same year, while the last 1203 tonnes were involving other Airports within the United Kingdom


UK Belfast International Airport

A small amount of cargo is traded through air freight in Belfast. In 2017, 12.3 thousand tonnes of goods went through BIA. The majority of goods exchanged in Belfast are with the other UK airports, 11204 tonnes are coming from domestic airports. Only 11 tonnes are exchanged with international destinations, and 1094 tonnes are directly shared with the EU. Birmingham Airport

The airport of Birmingham managed 42 thousand tonnes of goods in 2017. Among this volume, 12.6 thousand tonnes were traded with European countries, 25.1 thousand tonnes were shared with airports worldwide and only 4 thousand tonnes were involving other airports in the United Kingdom. Doncaster Sheffield Airport

Doncaster Sheffield is one of the few UK airports which isn’t trading goods with other domestic airports. In 2017, 8.6 thousand tonnes of goods were handled in DSA. 2.2 thousand tonnes were exchanged with destinations in the EU, while the other 6.4 thousand tonnes were directly traded with international destinations. East midlands international Airport

East Midlands International Airport can be considered as an important airport for UK’s international trade. In 2017, 3.2 hundred thousand tonnes of goods flowed through EMIA. Among this quantity, 2.2 hundred thousand tonnes were exchanged with the European Union and 61 thousand tonnes were traded internationally. 43 thousand tonnes of cargo were exchanged with other airports within the UK. Edinburgh Airport

In 2017, Edinburgh Airport administered a total of 20.7 thousand tonnes of goods. The majority of the goods exchanges are made with other UK airports, for a volume of 10.4 thousand tonnes. Around 10 thousand tonnes are also traded with the European countries, while only 152 tonnes are exchanged with other international destinations. Glasgow Airport

In 2017, 16 thousand tonnes of goods were traded through Glasgow Airport. The vast majority of these quantity is exchanged with non-European destinations, counting for 14.2 thousand tonnes of goods. Only 8 hundred tonnes of cargo were shared with European countries, and the last 901 tonnes were exchanged with domestic airports. Manchester Airport

In 2017 in Manchester Airport, 120 thousand tonnes of cargo were administered. The European Union was involved for 7.3 thousand tonnes of this total cargo volume. Most of the volume of goods traded in MA are involved with international destinations, representing a quantity of 113 thousand tonnes of goods. The 830 tonnes remaining were traded with domestic airports. Newcastle Airport

5.5 thousand tonnes of goods were handled in Newcastle Airport in 2017. Among this quantity, around 5 thousand tonnes are exchanged with international airports, and 480 tonnes are traded with the European Union. The last 39 tonnes remaining were cargos traded with other domestic airports. Prestwick Airport

In 2017, 11.4 thousand tonnes of goods were traded through Prestwick Airport. No cargos in Prestwick were exchanged with other UK airports. 3.5 thousand tonnes of goods were exchanged with European countries, while the remaining 7.8 thousand tonnes of goods were traded with international airports.


1.3) Door to door from Vietnam to UK

1.3.1) Overview – Door to Door

Door-to-door freight is the most comfortable freight solution for customers. It’s an All-inclusive freight service which is involving you the least possible during the transfer of your shipment. We will completely execute and manage the different steps of your freight, like the customs clearance, the trucking, the air or ocean freight, the warehousing… You will just have to receive the goods at the address you transmitted us. You will have all the necessary time to achieve other tasks in domains you’re mastering well, while we’ll regularly keep you in touch with the progress of your freight. This freight service is greatly appreciated by our customers, as it is providing them serenity, while we’re mastering every phase of the transfer.


1.3.2) Why door to door service is necessary?

As a process mastered from start to the end by only one entity, door-to-door is enabling us to ensure the greatest fluidity of your goods. Our agents in Vietnam and in the UK will team up to achieve greatly your shipment transfer. This will enable us to avoid most of the mistakes caused by a lack of communication involving different enterprises for a single freight. All added fees and delays will be dodged. Also, the most delicate step which is the customs clearance will be greatly operated thanks to our customs clearance specialists, both in Vietnam and in the UK. All these reasons are explaining why door-to-door is a hassle-free service.

2) Customs clearance in UK for goods imported from Vietnam

The customs procedure for import and export in the UK is, like any other advanced country, very precise and automatized. Because Vietnam and the United Kingdom doesn’t have any FTA (Free Trade Agreement) linking them together, the clearance will be operated the standard way. This will result on average and not reduced paperwork to do, and normal import taxes to pay for your goods to enter the UK territory. You may be worried about how the Brexit will impact the customs operations in the UK, but as far as it comes, the same process will certainly still be remained for goods traded between the two countries. It will also the same process if you’re importing British products in Vietnam.


2.1) How much will I pay?

Before beginning all procedures, it is necessary to have a precise estimation of how much will cost the customs clearance and the transfer of your goods in the UK. Like any other countries that are part of the WTO (World Trade Organization), Vietnam and the UK are using the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, to designated traded goods the same way. This means that all the articles traded in the world are referenced with the same ID code, no matter the country. This code, the “HS code”, is composed of 6 figures.


2.1.1) Calculate applicable tariff with the HS code

The HS code of a pineapple is 08043010. You’re wanting to learn what is the meaning beside this code? The following picture will precisely describe it to you :

hs code of a pineapple

First, you may not know what is the HS code designating your goods. The Canadian post implemented a great web tool that helps you to sort it out. Let’s stay in the pineapple example. If you’re typing pineapple in the search bar, you will first be been asked to choose the country of destination. After choosing UK, it will provide you the following HS code:

How to find HS code on the Canada post website

The official website of the UK government has also a page made to determine HS code for products. It is called the look up commodity code. If you’re trying to find what the HS code of pineapples is, just type pineapple in the search bar, and it will show you the result which is:

how to determine hs code on

As you can see the applicable rates to pineapples are showing 5.80% import duties and no VAT inherent on this product.


2.1.2) Different taxes existing for your goods GST/VAT in the UK

In the United Kingdom, there are three different VAT rates, the zero rate of VAT, the reduced rate of VAT and the standard rate of VAT:

  • The standard rate of VAT is of 20%
  • The reduced rate of VAT is of 5%
  • And the zero rate of VAT is of 0%

All these rates are applicable to a scope of goods and services, which you can precisely determine in the UK’s government guidance for VAT rates page.


2.2) How to get a taxes exemption?

Because the Kingdom is still in negotiations for its retirement from the European Union, the UK government absolutely needs to counterbalance the trade advantages he will lose over the Brexit. As the EU and Vietnam should have put in application the EVFTA, a potential exit of the UK may it also exit it of the FTA. The UK is still working on its side with Vietnam, either to keep the agreement valid between the two countries, or to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is involving Vietnam and many other countries. So, there will be no solution of exemption by searching this way. The only way to have an exoneration of import taxes will be to be benefiting of the GSP.


2.2.1) The Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP)

Vietnam takes part in the list of countries included in the general arrangement of the GSP of the European Union. Considered as a developing country, imports of products made in Vietnam is subject to reduced or zero import rates.

To benefit of this measure, you must provide to UK customs, the certificate of origin of your products, proving that they’ve been made in Vietnam. Of course, this very advantageous policy isn’t applicable for imports of competitive categories of goods, like clothing, textile and footwear.


2.2.2) The general arrangement

All the products benefiting of the general arrangement are listed in the Annex V of the REGULATION (EU) No 978/2012 of 25 October 2012. You can consult it to know if the goods you’re aiming to import can benefit of it.

Depending on the Sensitive (S) or non-sensitive (NS) character of your goods, the import taxes will be respectively reduced or zero. Still in the Annex V, you can determine the sensitiveness of a product. Non-sensitive products are totally exonerated of import taxes, except on agricultural goods.

2.2.3) Sensitive products

There are two type of sensitive products, the products subject to ad valorem taxes and other subject to specific taxes.

Ad valorem taxes are applied on products of the chapter 1 to 49 and 64 to 97. On these products, import taxes are reduced of 3.5%. It is also applied on textile products mentioned in the chapters 50 to 63. Here, import taxes are reduced by 20%.

If a sensitive product is applied both by ad valorem and specific right, ad valorem is always the chosen right.

To know the applicable import taxes to your products made in Vietnam, you must:

1 – Verify if the goods are mentioned in the Annex V of the general arrangement.

2 – determine if the goods are sensitive or non-sensitive in the Annex II of the same document.


2.3) Does FNM Vietnam charge duty?

FNM Vietnam is charging the handling and preparation of the documents. But we’re not taking any advantage of the import taxes applicable on your goods, and we’ll provide you all documents written by the UK customs to guarantee you a complete transparency of the handling of your goods in the UK.

2.4) Customs contacts

Contact at the Vietnamese customs

logo of the vietnamese customs

Official name: General Department of Vietnam Customs

Website: Vietnamese Customs


Contact at the British customs

Official name: HM Revenue and Customs

Website: British Customs

2.5) Customs process

If you haven’t done it yet, register an EORI number to be able to import Vietnamese goods in UK. You will be granted it after 3 working days.

The first step you’ll have to accomplish with customs is to declare your import. The duties and VAT are coming after.


2.5.1) Import declarations to customs

The import declaration in UK can be done electronically or with paper files. If you’re importing your goods in the UK via rail freight (which is almost impossible departing from Vietnam), you have to send to British customs an Entry Summary Declaration. This is necessary because before entering in the Kingdom, your goods will travel through the EU. If you’re not skilled, here is a guideline to achieve the import declaration by yourself.


2.5.2) Paying duty on imports from Vietnam

As you probably imagine, your shipment will only be released from UK customs once that all duties and taxes have been paid. If you’re importing goods temporarily in the UK, with the purpose to move them to another country, you can claim to customs to be refunded the import taxes and VAT back. It is also possible to ask for a delay payment, for all shipments import with a non-EU country.

Once the payment is received by UK customs for your import, they will release the shipment, so it can reach its final destination.


2.5.3) Paying VAT on imports from Vietnam

If it is your first import in the UK, you’re liable to pay import taxes and VAT directly to the HM Revenue and Customs.

After the payment proceeded, the HMRC will provide you the import tax certificate, to officialise that you paid the VAT and duties. This document is called the form 79.

Below is detailed the import process of your goods, precisely with the UK customs:

The scheme of the customs process

2.6) What are the Licenses required (import & export)?

Before implementing any import or export process in the UK, you must verify if the goods you’re aiming to import are requiring a License. Of course, if it is applicable, you can’t import or export such shipments without the applicable licenses. Legal sanctions can be taken by customs against you. Such licenses are also required for temporary imports or exports.


2.6.1) Import license

You must have an import License in the UK to import shipments of:

  • Food
  • Textile
  • Chemicals
  • Medicines
  • Plants and Animals
  • Firearms

*If your products have a particular country of origin, Import License may not be required


2.6.2) Export license

Export license will be required to send shipments out of the UK territory, containing:

  • Medicines
  • Chemicals
  • Artworks
  • Plants and animals
  • Military or paramilitary items
  • Technology

The needing of an export license is determined by the type of products you’re sending, and also the country where you’re sending them. It is in order to prevent any misuse that may be done with your goods. e.g, weapons and ammunitions to East Africa.

You will find more information on the import and export guidance GOV page.


2.7) Necessary documents

2.7.1) The Bill of lading or Airway bill

The BL (Bill of Lading) has a double usage for your cargo. It is similar to a passport and a boarding pass for your shipment. Once the BL is released, your goods are able to travel through sea and ocean. Depending on the chosen freight solution, it can be a Bill of Lading for all ocean freight, and an Airway Bill for all Air freight. The BL is proving to customs authority that the shipping was legally established, because the carrier is releasing it once he received payment for the transfer. In international trade and logistics this document is one of the most important, with the certificate of origin.

The pictures below are example of Bill of Lading, with the details of each information written on:

explanation of the information on a Bill of Ladingexample of a Bill of Lading 

2.7.2) The original invoice

The original invoice will be used by the HMRC to ensure that the products you’re importing in your shipment are corresponding to the one you declared through your import declaration.


2.7.3) The packing list

The packing list is a document describing all the products you’re importing. The HS code, weight and number of each items are described in that document. If you’re importing dangerous goods to the UK, the MSDS data sheet and the international code of the good must be precised.


2.7.4) Certificate of Origin

Like the Bill of Lading, the certificate of origin is one of the most important documents for import and export businesses. If you want to benefit from the GSP tariff treatment, you must show the CO to the UK customs in order to prove that your goods were “made in Vietnam”. This certificate must be issued by a Vietnamese government agency and be signed by your manufacturer. Of course, you must check that the manufacturer is able to provide such documents, before purchasing goods from him if you want to benefit of the GSP.

Below is an example of a certificate of origin (a Chinese one here):

Chinese Certificate of Origin

2.8) Prohibited items in the UK

Some goods cannot be imported in the UK. Such products are:

  • Offensive or defensive weapons like pepper sprays, CS gas, flick knives…
  • endangered animal and plant species
  • Illegal drugs
  • rough diamonds
  • obscene or amoral materials
  • Imports for personal use of meats and dairies from countries outside the EU


2.9) Restricted items in the UK

The restricted goods in the UK are requiring a special import licence delivered by a precise authority in Great Britain. Firearms, ammunitions and explosives are requiring such authorisation.

Agricultural and food products are also restricted if they:

  • May contain pests or other vegetal and animal diseases
  • Are imported for commercial use
  • Were not produced in a country of the EU

You will have more details about it on this page.


2.10) The Brexit impact on the European-Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) for UK

If the Brexit takes place, then the UK will exit from the customs union, which means that UK will have to leave all FTAs established by the European Union. It is mandatory because all members of a custom union should establish the same tariffs toward the other members and vice versa. As the automobile and pharmaceuticals sectors are accounting for most of the British exports, it will lose its competitivity compared to the European Union toward the Vietnamese market.

To avoid such losses, the UK government is willing to continue its existing investment and trade relations after the Brexit. This means that the Existing FTAs ratified with the EU will be reproduced at least in different forms for the UK, and the EVFTA is included.

This retention is aiming to protect British businesses from a drastic change that they may not be able to swallow.

So, the UK government is doing all its best, especially toward Vietnam, to keep its hardly negotiated privilege for trades in Vietnam.


2.11) Trade relationship between Vietnam and the UK

According to the last statistics established by the World Bank in terms of trades (2017), Vietnam is the 51st export partner and the 22nd import partner of the UK. On the opposite way, the UK is the 9th export partner and the 22nd import partner of Vietnam. Still in 2017 flows of goods departing from Vietnam and going to UK were valued at 5.4 billion USD, while flows from UK to Vietnam were valued at 745 million USD. As usual when it comes to Vietnam, the trade balance is largely benefiting to Vietnam with the UK.

The United Kingdom is largely importing broadcasting equipment, furniture, textile footwear, leather footwear, computers, coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashews, non-knit women and men’s suit from Vietnam.

In counterparts, the biggest exports of the UK to Vietnam are packaged medicaments, recovered paper, gas turbines, broadcasting equipment, antibiotics, electric generating sets, hard liquor, pesticides and cars.

3) Additional services

3.1) Our warehousing services

3.1.1) Storage service in Vietnam

We can welcome and store your goods all the time you want in our great warehouses of HCMV, Hai Phong and Quy Nhon. We can then send them on your request, to UK or in the delivery address in Vietnam, depending on the direction of your freight. Our very recent facilities, well designed and well maintained are secured 24/7 with CCTV equipment and our great security teams. We’re perfectly aware of anything happening and can act consequently in the best delays to avoid any issue.


3.1.2) Storage service in UK

In UK our network is enabling us to have also competitive rates for storage services in every city. We are also uncompromising on security there, and the same conditions are applied on both countries.

3.2) Our packing/unpacking services

3.2.1) Overview

You may be interested in packing your shipment on your own, to optimize your shipping budget? If yes, the following paragraphs are containing all the tricks and tips that a pro packer, like FNM Vietnam can provide to novice. But first, you should keep in mind before getting started that this is one of the most important phases of the transfer process, and it must be proceeded meticulously. The packing of your goods is enabling your cargo to travel the world without being damaged on arrival, so it is the first way to protect your goods. Also, if you prefer to use our packing services, do not hesitate to send us a quote request.


3.2.2) Packing material Carton box

Carton is a packing material that is not very recent, since it has been used in various industries for decades. But its effectiveness is still making of it a very secure and convenient way to pack almost all types of goods. You must privilege inflexible and thick carton for your packing, as it will cover your goods against all constraints applied. Without regarding the shape and the volume of your products our teams can handle their package securely, and will only use premium carton to avoid any problems during the freight. Palletization

Like cartons, pallets are an industrial classic when it comes to the goods’ conditioning. Strong and adherent, great quantities of products can be put on top of it. It is also very convenient to handle your goods with pallet truck, thanks to this object. In our facilities we can palletize your goods if needed, in case your manufacturer can’t do it. We’re having all types and dimension of pallets, to make sure it will be adapted to the goods you’re forwarding. Wooden boxes

If your items are too voluminous, or requires greater protection than carton and pallet, we can put them in a wooden crate before their transfer. We can place them inside a box or a crate, depending on your goods’ type. If your goods must be placed and handled in a particular direction during their transfer, the wooden box will be preferred. If your goods aren’t requiring a precise direction, then the crate is more appropriate. This process can be perfectly handled by our packing teams. They can realize tailored crates adapted to the size and weight of your goods. Others: bubble wrap, tape, wrapping paper, polystyrene…

These aren’t the main wrapping materials but shouldn’t be neglected during any packing. They are softening the contact between your goods and the carton or crate. The bubble wrap should be placed in numerous layers around each object, while the polystyrene should be put between your items and the carton or crate. These great materials are almost always used by our teams to protect your goods.


3.2.3) Why packing is important for the insurance?

That’s a very delicate point. If your goods are damaged during their freight, the insurance covering them will not refund you asap. First, they will investigate if your goods were packed professionally or not. If they realize that you packed your goods by yourself, chances are great that they will refuse to reimburse your loss. They can’t refuse if it was made by professionals, like FNM Vietnam. To avoid any trouble, lost money and time, we’re strongly advising you to use our packing services, or services from any other pros. This will give you the greatest peace of mind.

3.3) Freight insurance

3.3.1) How much does a freight insurance cost?

To sort out the price of your freight insurance, a simple calculation based on the price of your goods is made.

Here is the method used to determine the price of your freight insurance: freight cost + shipment value * 2-3%

The percentage is depending on your products type.

As you may think, you will have a lower insurance price if you’re declaring a lower value of your goods. Even if it’s true, it isn’t recommended because in case of trouble, the insurance will partially reimburse you, based on your small product value. Also, it is pointless to declare a higher value, as you will only pay an unnecessary high freight insurance.

3.4) Supplier management in Vietnam

3.4.1) Control quality in Vietnam

Quality control is very important, because if your goods are too fragile, or the packing is insufficient, chances are that some breakage will happen during the freight. This is why we always check your shipment before containerizing it, to be sure everything will be proceeded greatly. That’s why we’re always reaching your supplier or manufacturer first, to establish a great communication with them, and make sure everything is alright. Hence, we will dodge most of the issues that may appear.


3.4.2) Relationship with supplier

As said above, we’ll always verify the category of your goods, the HS code, their size, the packing… before any further process even if the incoterm of your transfer is FOB (Free on Board). Our multilingual team, proficient in English, French, and Vietnamese will greatly communicate with your manufacturer to make sure all the necessary conditions are reached to transfer your goods. So, the documents, the conditioning and the handling of your goods will be mastered, and nothing will be left to chance. The international transfer of your goods will be fluid and uninterrupted.


3.5) 3PL Services in Vietnam

3.5.1) Order fulfillment/Packing & labelling in Vietnam

We have packing and fulfilment centers here in Vietnam, to fully manage your inventory if required. We understand that the supply chain of an ecommerce is very difficult to master, especially if you’re not located in the sourcing country. We’re able to pack and forward your goods anywhere in the world to satisfy your clients. You can greatly rely on us for the management of your inventory and the customer support.

3.5.2) Last mile delivery

No matter where your customers are in UK, our great international network of messengers can deliver the shipment to the final address. They are achieving a great role in our door-to-door services, always increasing the quality of the service provided.


3.6) Shipping personal effects from Vietnam

3.6.1) Excess baggage

It’s not uncommon for tourists travelling in Vietnam, to fell in love with the country, and to take back home to UK numerous souvenirs. But if you’re bringing home much more goods than on arrival, you might have issues with your airline, and some goods may be refused. On this purpose, we implemented our excess baggage services. We’re transferring your goods by express freight back to you, so you will receive them in the next days after your come back.

3.6.2) Moving service from Vietnam to UK

Between UK and Vietnam, we have very efficient and flexible relocation services, that will be tailored to your needs. If required, we can ensure the packing, the freight, the customs clearance and the storage of your personal effects in both continents. Our great relations with the Vietnamese customs will enable a smooth entrance or exit of your goods in Vietnam.

3.7) Free regulation advisor

Between Vietnam and the United Kingdom, we’re greatly skilled to handle all freight demands. We’re also proficient in sourcing in Vietnam, so if you have any questions about your supplier or manufacturer, or if you want to find some of the most valuable, we can help you on that also. On any aspect of your project, financial, administrative, legal… We can advise you on the best solutions to avoid any kind of misfortune.


4) FAQ – For 1st time importer from Vietnam

Do I need a license to import goods from Vietnam to UK?

Certain categories of items need an import authorization to travel freely inside the United Kingdom. Even if it isn’t necessary most of the time, it’s always great to verify, to avoid any misunderstanding situation. On the paragraph 2.7.1 of this page, we’re detailing the goods that are requiring such measures in UK.

Do I need a customs broker in UK?

Most of the time, people that aren’t skilled in customs clearance are accumulating unnecessary added fees and delays when trying to handle it on their own. That’s why it is recommended to ask for the services of a pro customs broker to ensure the process is made the best way. As it must be done as fast as possible, to avoid any useless charges, FNM Vietnam can represent you or your company toward both the British and the Vietnamese customs. If it’s not your first import for your product, and you master this kind of process, you can do it on your own for sure.

I’ve been told I need to get an EORI number how do I get this?

Even if the Brexit is putting some uncertainty on the import procedures in UK, the Kingdom is still apart of the EU’s custom territory. It means that like all other EU’s countries, an EORI number should be obtained by your enterprise before all import process.

How Can Air Freight Be Cheaper Than Ocean Freight?

It entirely depends on the dimensions and weight of your shipment. In general, goods larger than 1 CBM and heavier than 150 kgs are transported by ocean freight, if time is not a major issue, as it is far more competitive than air freight. Air freight is competitive below, but very expensive above. We’re discussing it in the paragraph, to help you choose the most suitable freight solution.

Do I need to pay insurance for my freight from Vietnam?

It isn’t mandatory to insure a freight. But do not rely on the carrier’s responsibility, as it is almost impossible to obtain anything from them if something happens to your cargo. If any issues occurring, the only way to get refunded for the loss you may suffer, is to have an insurance contract covering your goods. You can have further details on the freight insurance in the paragraph 3.3.1) above.

How do I reduce custom duty while importing goods from Vietnam to UK?

There are numerous solutions for you to pay the less import taxes possible in the United Kingdom for a cargo from Vietnam. We’re detailing all the possibilities in the paragraph 2.3 of this article.

Do I need to pay any duties and taxes in Vietnam?

In general, for any freight, you don’t have to pay any taxes in the country of departure, except if you’re exporting goods that are precious or sensitive in certain way for the country of export. Contrariwise, there is almost often some import taxes in the country of import.

How do I locate the import tariff for my product?

The website has a convenient tool to calculate the duties on the product you’re aiming to import. We’re explaining you how to proceed on the paragraph 2.1.1) above.


In general, Vietnamese manufacturers, and Asians suppliers more largely are always selling their products on a FOB or EXW incoterm. CIF is chosen more occasionally.

Will Lunar New Year or holidays affect my shipment?

Of course. First you should know that the Chinese and Vietnamese new years have similarities. They are occurring at the same moment, but they have a day or two of delay. Usually, all the Vietnamese companies are off during a week or two, which means that you shouldn’t book a freight on that period of the year, because your goods will be sent with a week delay at least.

What method of payment is recommended for imports from Vietnam to UK?

There are several secured solutions to pay your Vietnamese supplier while staying in UK. The most recommended, and also most used are the Letter of Credit, the notorious Paypal, Alibaba Trade Assurance, cryptocurrencies or a wire transfer. Other payment solutions are not as secured as the one quoted. Also, if your supplier refuses to use one of these payment methods, it displays a lack of professionalism and seriousness. You should be more careful about trading with him in this condition.

Goods have arrived at my port in UK, how do I get them delivered to the final destination?

It depends on the selling contract you established with us. If we implemented a door-to-door freight (DAP or DAT incoterm) with you or your company, then you should not worry, the goods will be directly delivered to your address. Otherwise, if we established a freight regulated with the CFR or CIF incoterm, it means that we’re not in charge of the transfer of your goods in the UK territory. Then you should reach a freight forwarder in UK to achieve the last steps of your goods’ transfer.


FNM Door to Door services from Vietnam to UK– What we need to know to provide you a quote?  

To send you a detailed and accurate quote, we should base ourselves on the following documents and informations:

  • Dimensions and weight of your goods
  • HS Code
  • Pickup and delivery address
  • If you have them, the packing list and the pro forma invoice

If you have particular goods to transfer like hazardous or chemical products, then we’ll ask you further questions and documents, like the MSDS data sheet…

how can I ensure that I have selected the correct site/supplier/factory to shop on?  

There are a few steps that all importers should achieve before treating with any supplier/manufacturer. First you should verify the medium you used. If it is a sourcing agency, check its reputation in forums on the web, on google reviews… Do the same if you found them on a marketplace. Once the medium is checked, you can verify the supplier’s reputation directly. Follow the steps below, and you’ll know if you can trust him:

  • You should first make a detailed analysis of his customers. It is a proof of great products’ quality if the bigger part of his customers are located in North America, Australia and Europe for instance. You must be more careful if you find out that the major parts of his customers are based in the Middle East or in Africa. It probably means that their products aren’t qualitative.
  • Then you should check how is its products catalogue. If the products that he is offering are homogeneous and coherent, like silicone watch bands, silicone iPhone cases and other accessories in silicone, chances are that he is a manufacturer. Contrariwise, if the products proposed in its catalogue are motley, like iPhone cases, headphones, hand spinners and selfie sticks, chances are that he is a retailer and not a manufacturer. Usually, retailers are less worried on quality issues than manufacturers, which means that you should privilege to work with manufacturers directly if you’re able to.
  • In the end, you should verify the time since your supplier is existing on the internet, if you can track its activity for more than 5 years, it is a plus. If he’s been active for less than 2 years, you must be pernickety before ordering.

If you still don’t know what you think of the suppliers you selected, do not hesitate to reach us directly by mail or phone, to have our professional advices on whether you can trust your supplier or not.


FAQ – How FNM will help you?

Do you have a privacy policy?  

Of course, and you can reach it here on our website: privacy policy. All the details and information you will provide us will not be shared with any third parties. They are safely kept and only used to provide the best services possible.

What will you do next for customer services once I paid the cost?  

We’ll always stay in touch with you until the service is fully accomplished and you’re entirely satisfied of it. Communication is very important to deliver the best service, so we’ll tell you regularly each progress of your transfer. Your personal consultant can be reached whenever you want, by phone or email to answer all your questions.

I have bought many different items of goods from cities around Vietnam, could you gather together to send me?  

Yes, we have consolidation services in Vietnam that we can implement in our warehouse. You just have to provide us your supplier’s contact, so we can reach them and implement the transfer process the best way possible. Once collected, the goods will be assembled into a single shipment and sent in the address you need. You can contact our consolidation specialists to have further recommendations suitable to your precise situation. 

Can I change my shipping address after its been shipped?  

It is possible of course. If the situation is occurring, please contact us the soonest possible, so we can adapt ourselves and reorganize the transfer. Please note that it may slightly modify the freight price.


5) Conclusion

Here is all you need to know about freight and international trade between Vietnam and UK. We hope that all this great data helped you to see more clearly what you need to implement, and what you must avoid for all import/export purpose between the two countries. As the Brexit is still on the line, changes may have occurred at the time you’re reading this article. We’ll still update it the soonest. If it wasn’t enough, or that we didn’t answered what you were looking for, do not hesitate to reach one of our experts to have recommendations tailored to your situation. As we’re proficient for all supply chain issues, like sourcing and transferring goods, you can ask us anything on these topics. 


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