A Guide to Importing from India to the UK

A Guide to Importing from India to the UK


5 minute read | By Denholm Good Logistics

Last updated: March 25, 2024 | Published: March 23, 2018


In 2016, India shipped US$261 billion worth of goods around the globe, and last month India became the world’s fastest-growing economy, so it’s no surprise that here in the UK we’re regular importers from India. As the world’s leading provider of many goods that are high in demand in the UK such as petroleum products, jewellery and gems, machinery, clothing and pharmaceutical products, it’s easy to understand why businesses all over the world choose to trade with India.

Why Import from India?

The costs of manufacturing are low in India compared to other areas of the world which means you can benefit from lower costs compared to sourcing products closer to home. Whether you are buying off the shelf products that are made in India or choosing a supplier in India to manufacture your products, you’ll benefit from lower production costs which will improve your margin.

As the eighth largest export market for India, there are many options for shipping from India to the UK including air freight and sea freight services such as FCL (Full Container Load) and LCL (Less than Container Load), which is a good option for businesses whose freight doesn’t fill a container.

In India, English is typically used as a business language, and the legal and administrative systems in India and UK are similar, which makes trading with India relatively simple.

What to Import from India?

You can source most things from India, but the top exports during 2016 were the following:

  • Gems, precious metals
  • Mineral fuels including oil
  • Vehicles (including cars, motorcycles and automotive parts)
  • Machinery including computers
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Organic chemicals
  • Clothing, accessories
  • Electrical machinery, equipment
  • Knit or crochet clothing, accessories
  • Iron, steel

If your business has a use for any of the above-listed products, then India is a tried and tested exporter.

Fastest Growing India Exports

India’s fastest growing exports during 2016 included vehicles such as cars and motorcycles and automotive parts, pharmaceuticals and machinery including computers.

Importing into the UK from India

The following paperwork is essential when importing from India to the UK:

  1. Waybill
  2. Commercial Invoice: The commercial invoice is an important document that’s used by customs to declare imported goods. You’ll need one for goods imported from India. Make sure it includes:
  • Name, address and contact details of the seller
  • Receiver’s details, including name, address and contact details, EORI and VAT registration numbers
  • Buyer/importer’s details including name, address and contact details, EORI and VAT registration numbers (if different from Receiver)
  • Place and date of issue
  • Invoice number
  • Country of origin
  • Terms of delivery and payment – see Incoterms
  • Marks and numbers
  • Number and type of packages
  • The exact description of goods, including Commodity Codes
  • Quantity of goods
  • Unit prices and amounts, including net and gross weight
  • Import licence number if applicable
  1. Original Self Declaration Form (SDF)
  2. Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI)

Dependent on commodity there maybe additional documentation or certificates required.

Import Declarations

Goods coming from India must be declared to UK customs. This can be a complicated process, so most businesses use a freight forwarder to do this on their behalf.

VAT & Duty

Goods imported from India may be subject to VAT and Duty payments on entry to the UK.

Restricted Goods

Some restricted goods such as antiques, coal & firewood, military equipment, plants & plant products, precious metals & stones, tobacco and works of art require a special import licence to be brought into the UK.

John Good Logistics offers a weekly direct consolidation service from India to the UK. With fixed weekly sailings from Nhava Sheva to Felixstowe and fast transit times of only 22 days. In addition to our direct service from Nhava Sheva, we offer weekly services from a wide range of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in India including New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Jaipur.

With a dedicated Trade Manager to assist you with importing and exporting from India, John Good Logistics also provides a wide range of FCL container services to and from India covering a range of ports including Nhava Sheva, Chennai and Mundra in India and Felixstowe and London Gateway in the UK.

Why not make John Good Logistics your one-stop-shop for importing from India? Contact our knowledgeable team for help and advice on importing from India.

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