Purchase of goods cross-border

Purchases outside the EU

VAT on imports of goods purchased from non-EU countries is normally charged at the same rate as if the goods had been supplied in the UK; however, certain donated goods can be imported free of VAT where certain conditions are met. The goods have to be either:

  • basic necessities for the needy and vulnerable
  • goods to be used or sold at charity events for the benefit of the needy and vulnerable, or
  • equipment and office materials

Purchases within the EU

A VAT-registered charity buying goods from other EU countries will not normally have to pay VAT when bringing the goods into the UK. Instead, it will account for any acquisition VAT on the next VAT return, at the rate that would have applied if the charity had bought the goods in the UK.

For further information see HMRC guidance VAT: imports, acquisitions and purchases from abroad.

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