Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Relief from import duties

If you are a business which currently imports Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or if you are considering importing these goods, the recent announcements concerning import duties will come as welcome news.

For businesses which import PPE for specific organisations or sectors

HMRC has introduced import duty relief for PPE including medical supplies, equipment and protective garments used to tackle COVID-19.  This relief applies to customs duty and import VAT and can be claimed on goods imported into the UK providing the following conditions are met.

  • The relief applies to imports of PPE set out in the COVID-19 Commodity Code list:
  • The relief applies to imports into the UK between 30 January 2020 and 31 July 2020.
  • The goods must be imported by or on behalf of an organisation based in the UK who are:
  • State organisations, including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law.
  • Other charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities.

If you import goods on behalf of one of the approved organisations or sectors, you should obtain prior approval from HMRC to claim this relief.

If you have imported goods from 30 January 2020 onwards and did not claim relief at the time, you may be eligible to recover any import duties retrospectively.

For businesses importing PPE from 1 May 2020

HMRC has advised that a temporary zero rate of import VAT will apply to qualifying PPE imported into the UK between the period 1 May 2020 to 31 July 2020, irrespective of the end user of the goods.   Qualifying PPE has been defined as equipment which is recommended for use by Public Health England in the guidance dated 24 April 2020 – ‘COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)’.

Please note: This is to align with the announcement that the domestic VAT rate for the onward supply of PPE in the UK will also be zero rated between 1 May and 31 July 2020.