Updated 20 December 2013

Notice to Importers 2843, 2844, 2845, 2846, 2847, 2848 and 2849 added.
20 December 2013 5:06pm
'EU surveillance licensing on a range of steel products from all countries' has been removed from 'Goods currently subject to import import bans and licensing controls'.
28 November 2013 6:17pm
Guidance on using the new Import Case Management System (ICMS) added.
30 April 2013 2:32pm
Replacing NTI 2829 with accessible pdf
24 January 2013 1:05pm
First published.
12 December 2012 6:30pm

The Europe, Trade and International Directorate (ETID) of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) advise and deal with a range of trade policy, regimes, procedural issues governing imports into the UK.

See below for notices to importers and information on import licensing.

Import licensing

An import licence is not needed to import the majority of industrial goods into the United Kingdom or EU.

However, some industrial goods require import licences, issued by the Import Licensing Branch (ILB), as a result of controls imposed at national, EU or UN level. ILB publicises these restrictions by issuing Notices to Importers.

Import controls

The UK is part of the EU Single Market and the European Commission has sole responsibility for the EU’s commercial policy. With limited exceptions (for example, on security or health grounds), the UK is unable to introduce national import controls.

National import controls

National import controls are imposed using the UK’s national import prohibition legislation Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939. BIS controls its use within government. All national import controls are listed in the Open General Import Licence (OGIL) made under it. For example, import licensing controls on firearms back up Home Office domestic legislation on the possession of firearms so that only those with authority to possess firearms can import them.

EU import controls

Because of their effect on the EU single market, EU Import controls are directly applicable in all EU member states and do not require additional national legislation to implement. They are imposed when the EU needs to implement a measure agreed within the EU or internationally (for example, a UN Security Council resolution), or to implement an EU trade policy decision.

International sanctions

Import controls can be imposed as a result of international obligations, such as UN Security Council resolutions. As these affect the functioning of the EU single market, their introduction is usually by EU regulation and directly applicable in all EU member states. Occasionally, they may be implemented as national measures where the OGIL is amended.

Sanctions against a particular country often include a range of measures including export and financial controls. For further information on current sanctions, please consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), HM Treasury, or the Export Control Organisation (ECO).

Current import controls

There are 3 types of control:

  • bans – where no import is allowed
  • quotas - where the volume of goods is restricted
  • surveillance – where the import of goods is monitored with licences

Goods currently subject to import bans and licensing controls are:

  • UN ban on the import of anti-personnel mines
  • EU quotas on textiles and clothing from Belarus and North Korea
  • EU quotas on steel products from Kazakhstan
  • EU ban on the import of torture equipment
  • EU ban on the import of certain products from Iran
  • EU ban on the import of certain products from Syria
  • EU ban on the import of certain products from North Korea
  • UK licensing controls on the import of firearms

Applying for an import licence

You can apply for an import licence at www.ilb.bis.gov.uk


For further advice on import controls for which ILB is responsible, contact: enquiries.ilb@bis.gsi.gov.uk

Other government departments that control imports

You will find a full list of import controls and the government department responsible for them in volume 1 part 3 of the HM Revenue & Customs Integrated Tariff.

It is the responsibility of importers to ensure that they are aware of import restrictions and controls.

Certificates of Free Sale (CFS)

Certificates of Free Sale are also issued by ILB to exporters. This is increasingly a requirement – mainly for goods that come into contact with humans such as cosmetics - in countries that by comparison do not have such stringent product safety standards and enforcement as the EU. CFS declarations effectively confirm that the goods listed meet the UK/EU’s high safety standards as they are being sold in the EU single market.

Please see our guidance on how to apply for a CFS. There are several government departments that issue Certificates of Free Sale:

  • Defra issues CFS for goods that come into contact with animals (veterinary medicines for example)
  • the Department of Health issues CFS for medicines
  • the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issues CFS for biocides

Notices to Importers

The Notices to Importers (NTI) listed below explain the import prohibitions and controls that are currently in force. Click to download the relevant NTI.

National import controls

NTI   Date
2849 Imports of Firearms and Ammunition Import Licensing Arrangements 2014 16 December 2013
2829 Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) import licence requirements for nuclear materials 2013 13 December 2012
2832 UK Open General Import Licence (OGIL) 2012 and guidance on its use 13 December 2012

European import controls

NTI Textiles and clothing

NTI   Date
2844 Imports of Restricted Textile and Clothing Products Originating in Belarus - 2014 Arrangements 16 December 2013
2845 Belarus Outward Processing Trade for Textiles (OPT) Arrangements - 2014 16 December 2013
2846 Imports of Restricted Textile and Clothing Products Originating in North Korea – 2014 Arrangements 16 December 2013

NTI Iron and steel

NTI Wood

Other notices

2802 Iran sanctions 2012 26 December 2012
2817 Myanmar sanctions 2012 25 July 2012
2820 Somalia sanctions 2012 22 August 2012
2803 Syria sanctions 2012 28 March 2012

NTI international obligations

NTI   Date
2842 Import of Torture Equipment 25 April 2013
2841 Anti-Personnel mines 25 April 2013

NTI general

NTI   Date
2843 Import Licensing Branch (ILB) - Branch Closure over Christmas and New Year 16 December 2013
2834 New Electronic Import Licensing System for Import Controls 25 April 2013
Electronic import licensing system: Import Case Management System (ICMS) guidance

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