Covid 19 - VAT update - Temporary import VAT & Duty relief for some medical supplies


On the 31st March HMRC announced a welcome VAT and Duty relief which will apply to the following specific medical items that are imported from outside of the EU into the UK in the period to the 31st July 2020. There are conditions as to what types of organisations can benefit from this relief as you will note below. However in the context of our clients who may not be state or public bodies under the first point there is the opportunity to request authorisation from the National Import Relief Unit in order to be able to access this relief. This would certainly be the route to follow if you are in the University, College or Charity sectors or indeed, in the commercial sector, where you can meet the conditions then set on the use on these specific items. We have briefly highlighted the key points of the scheme below and there is a link here to the HMRC notice.

 Who can claim this relief

 This relief can be claimed immediately by:

  • state organisations, including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law
  • other authorised non-state bodies

 If you are from a non-state body you can request authorisation by contacting the National Import Relief Unit (NIRU) by emailing for an application form.

 Goods you can claim relief on

 You can get relief on imported goods for free circulation that are:

  • for distribution free of charge to those affected by, at risk from or involved in combating the coronavirus (COVID- 19)
  • to be made available free of charge to those affected by, at risk from or involved in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, while remaining the property of the organisations importing them

 The relief will apply to imports of protective equipment, other relevant medical devices or equipment for the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 Goods for onward donation or sale to the NHS

 Goods imported into the UK for donation or onward sale to the NHS are also eligible for this relief and can be imported free of import duty and import VAT.

 Disaster Relief Agencies

 You can also claim relief if you’re a disaster-relief agency and are importing goods for free circulation to meet your needs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 Goods Loaned, hired or transferred to a qualifying body

 If your goods are loaned, hired out or transferred to an organisation eligible for the relief, the relief will remain in place as long as the conditions continue to be met. You will need to pay the VAT and Duty on the items if they are loaned, hired etc to a non-qualifying body or individual and if the use did first qualify but then you stop using them in that way there is a requirement to notify HMRC in advance.

 How to claim the Relief

 You access the relief by including these specific references in the CHIEF Import Declaration

You enter in:

  • box 37 - the customs procedure code 40 00 C26
  • box 44 - declaration/notes, enter document codes 9AID and/or 9AIV and status codes JP or UP as appropriate

The guidance note does contain a list of the Commodity Codes for the relevant items but to assist we attach the link here as well.

 As ever, please contact your usual Centurion VAT specialist should you need support with this. Again a practical and welcome relief from HMRC. Do remember to use should you have any questions as all of our technical team have access to this email inbox and can respond to your query.


For the avoidance of doubt, the content recorded in this news article does not constitute formal advice and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It is always recommended that you should seek professional advice before acting on any of the news articles or information included.


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