How to import from Turkey to the UK

Total trade in goods between Turkey and the UK totalled £18.1bn in 2021. Here are the steps to consider when importing from this valuable trading partner

For centuries, Turkey has been a trading power linking Europe and Asia with its ideal transcontinental location.

Today, the country enjoys close trading ties with the UK. In 2021, the total trade in goods between the two countries totalled £18.1bn, an increase of 20.2 per cent on 2020’s figure of £15.1bn, according to the Department for International Trade.

Of this £18.1bn, the UK imported £11.6bn over the 12-month period – a 26.8 per cent increase on the year before, meaning Turkey ranked as the UK’s 14th largest import partner, accounting for 1.8 per cent of UK imports, while the UK is Turkey’s second largest export market.  

What to import from Turkey

Turkey’s biggest exports to the UK were: vehicles other than cars, which accounted for 18.5 per cent of all goods imported to the UK (£2bn), clothing, electrical machinery, cars and miscellaneous electrical goods.

Of all UK imports from Turkey, the majority of trade were goods (92.4 per cent).

In 2020, around 11,800 UK companies imported goods from Turkey (around 4.7 per cent of UK companies importing from around the world).

Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and UK

In 2021, the UK signed a trade agreement with Turkey, along the lines of a traditional free trade agreement to allow trade between the two countries to remain uninterrupted post Brexit. Preferential tariff rates apply to trade between the two nations.

The trade agreement includes:

  • Provisions on preferential tariffs
  • Intellectual property
  • Competition
  • Dispute settlement

It was reported that without a deal, 75 per cent of goods imported from Turkey would be subject to tariffs, amounting to a loss of £2bn in 2021.

How to import from Turkey to the UK

#1 – Complete a customs declaration form

It is compulsory to have customs forms attached to all goods arriving to the UK from abroad. This will declare any goods you’re bringing into the UK and what it’s worth to HMRC. You can get a broker to sort the customs declaration on your behalf.

#2 – Get an EORI number

When importing from Turkey, you’ll need an EORI number. This will start with GB (or XI in some cases in Northern Ireland). If yours doesn’t, you’ll need to request a new one. You can register for an EORI online, and you’ll receive it within a couple of days.

>See also: EORI number: What it is and how to get or check one

#3 – Comply with rules of origin

You must declare you hold proof goods comply with rules of origin so you can benefit from any preferential tariffs. Rules of origin state where goods originate from, which may not be from the country you’re shipping from, and which are covered in trade agreements.

The site provides the specific wording you can use for a declaration of origin. You will need to date and sign this.

Check also that the company exporting is permitted to export to the UK.

#4 – Complete an import declaration

You will need to include the customs procedure code, declaration unique consignment reference and commodity code in your import declaration. Commodity codes disclose how much duty your business needs to pay and if you need an import licence. You can match your goods to the correct code using the trade tariff tool on the website.

>See also: The essential guide to commodity codes and HS categories

Some goods, like plants and animals, are likely to also require a special certificate.

#5 – Pay duty and VAT to have your goods released by customs.

Freight options

You can receive your goods from Turkey via air freight, shipping or via the road.

Air freight is the quickest, but also most expensive, option. It will take between two and three days to receive your goods using this method. Sea freight can take between nine and 19 days whereas land will take up to 40 days.

Road haulage is the typical route to importing goods from Turkey, though freight forwarder and shipping agency Good Logistics advises using sea freight to ensure goods arrive in the best condition.

Costs from Turkey to the UK (via DFS Worldwide):

Sea freight: 1cbm (cubic metres) £98, 5cbm £356

Air freight: 50kg £98, 100kg £140, 300kg £380

Road freight: 1cbm £206, 2cbm £249, 10cbm £420 (converted from euros)

Where can I get help?

There are customs agents able to help with importing documentation. Agents like Clearlight Customs, The Customs People and Customs Support can ensure you pay the right amount in duty and tax, to avoid the chance of paying a fine further down the line.

Similarly, there are shipping specialists like Good Logistics to help you save time by managing your supply chain. For any other queries about trade, you can contact the Department for International Trade (DIT).

More on importing to the UK

Import guide: three essential tips and everything you need to know

Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various...