Do charities have to pay duty and tax?

When importing from outside the EU, charities can claim relief from duties and taxes during customs clearance. Not every item is eligible for this relief however, and not every organisation can claim it. According to Notice 317 from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, relief from duties and taxes can only be claimed by:

  • those registered by the Charities Commission or the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator
  • state organisations which are devoted to welfare
  • the following, as long as they are non-profit making and their objective is the welfare of the needy:
    • hospitals
    • youth organisations
    • clubs, homes and hostels for the aged
    • orphanages and children’s homes
    • organisations set up for the relief of distress caused by particular disasters in the Customs Union
    • organisations concerned with the relief of distress generally (such as the British Red Cross Society or the Salvation Army)

If your organisation meets these requirements, you can claim relief from duties and taxes on:

  • basic necessities for needy people
  • goods to be used or sold at charity events for the benefit of needy people
  • equipment and office materials to help run your organisation for the benefit of needy people
  • goods to help deal with disasters in the Customs Union

Note: In order to claim relief, make sure to write “CHARITY ITEMS: RELIEF CLAIMED” on both the packaging of your goods and on your customs forms.

For more information, see Notice 317.

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