Business Health & Fitness

Guide to Importing Medical and Pharmaceutical Goods

British importers who handle general consumer goods may not be well-versed in all aspects of medical and pharmaceutical regulations in the UK today.

In other words, if you are used to importing electrical products, clothing and machinery, then it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will have the technical expertise to import medicinal goods, too.

The same goes for buyers of medical and pharmaceutical products who are only used to dealing with British-based suppliers. Using overseas ones can cause significant headaches without the right knowledge.

Importing Medical and Pharmaceutical Goods

This is why procuring the services of a professional freight forwarding firm can be so beneficial. What can you expect if you turn to such a company?

Table of Contents

Importation Registration

To begin with, you cannot begin importing medical goods from overseas suppliers – even for goods that you already distribute around the UK – until you have registered with HMRC as an importation firm. To do this, you will need to make an online application.

On successful completion of this application, your firm will be given an EORI number that must then be used on all official paperwork. To be clear, you can place an order with a medical supplier in another country, such as Ireland, France or the United States, but you cannot import it to Britain until you have obtained your EORI status.

Product Safety Notifications

Note that all medical products entering the UK will be checked for safety markings. According to Barrington Freight, an expert in international medical importation logistics, CE safety marks are a must for all medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as for medical devices, such as monitors, syringes and the like.

There are even rules about the size of such safety notifications. Too small, and your goods won’t be compliant. The only medical goods that do not have to have CE markings are pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore, the manufacturer of the goods – even if they are not the supplier – must have also had a conformity assessment undertaken by themselves or by an official representative.

Classification Codes

This is an area that causes difficulties for numerous importers of medical products. Classification codes – also called commodity codes – are required by HMRC for all sorts of imports. The problem is that some medical products can be considered to conform to more than one class of product.

For example, medical consumables must begin with codes that start with 3005. However, there are some exceptions, such as first aid kits or dental cement which begin with a 3006 coding. Unless you know what you are doing, it is easy to make errors which will result in your imports being held up.

VAT and Excise Duty

Customs declarations must have the correct coding, as mentioned, but they must also contain the right tax and duty information. If this is found to be in error, then it can have serious consequences for the importation firm involved.

For this reason, it is often preferable to outsource this work to an agent, preferably one that also handles international freight shipments for greater convenience on the part of the importer.

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About the author

Vidya Menon

Vidya is an online content developer for Justwebworld. She has a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Current Linguistics. She is a passionate reader, writer and researcher with a background in academic writing.

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