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- Key points for purchase orders
- Marketplace orders
- FAQs

Page updated 03-Mar-21

Key points for purchase orders

  • Use the IMPORT20%, IMPORT5%, IMPORT0% or ME0.0% tax codes in CUFS to identify the Import VAT that will due on purchases of goods (and related customs duty) from all overseas suppliers.
  • Wherever possible, all purchase orders for imports should be raised using the University Standard Terms & Conditions to ensure that we use INCO terms DDP (delivered duty paid) to mitigate the University’s duty costs and import obligations.
  • Purchases against EU grants should continue to be charged to existing awards and projects.


Marketplace orders

We are aware of several issues arising when goods are shipped from abroad by Marketplace suppliers. This includes instances where UK suppliers sometimes source and ship items directly from overseas to the University and departments are unaware that they are involved with an import until the items are held at the border and/or the payment of import VAT or duties requested (note this could also occur with non-catalog orders too).

Procurement is reviewing with Advance mechanisms to help alleviate some of the problems. However, in the short term they advise the following. Please continue to raise your Marketplace (or non-catalog) order as normal. However, once the order has been approved on CUFS please contact the supplier directly in all instances where you know there is to be an import,  the items qualify as controlled goods or would be medically exempt for VAT purposes.


Interim process 

Contact the supplier and check to see if the goods will be imported. 

If goods will be imported:

  1. ​Establish who will be responsible for making the import declaration and how the goods will be shipped. 
  2. Where their carrier/agents are to make the import declaration you will likely be asked to sign a "Direct Representative" form.  Alternatively, you can appoint your own import agent and provide the details below
  3. You will then need to provide the following information to either your agent or the supplier and/or  their carrier:
  • The University's EORI number GB823847609000
  • If the goods qualify to be Medically Exempt from VAT - a manually completed ME Certificate 
  • If the goods can be relieved from duty or VAT for any other reasons the relevant supporting certificates
  • If the goods are controlled the necessary licences or certificates for import. 
  • Instructions that the University will be using Postponed VAT Accounting and will NOT be using a duty deferment account.

Further guidance on agents can be found here  and manual medical exemption forms can be accessed from 



Q. Which Import VAT Tax code to use?

The VAT rate of goods if they had been purchased in the UK.…

Tax code to use on POs for goods from overseas suppliers

Standard rated (SR20.0%)


Reduced Rate (RR5.0%)


Zero-rated (ZR0.0%)


Exempt (EXEMPT)


Medically Exempt (ME0.0%)


OUTSIDE THE SCOPE (overseas VAT charged)


Q. Terms & Conditions to use for imports?

Potentially, duty will represent an additional cost to Departments and import VAT is due on top of any customs duty charged. To mitigate the University’s duty costs and import obligations Departments are reminded that, where possible, all overseas purchases should be made using the University Standard Terms & Conditions – whether you are issuing a purchase order with University terms and conditions of supply attached or through contracts signed by all parties using the University standard forms.

The Legal Services Office approved University forms (available here) include the provision of INCO terms DDP, which means goods are ‘Delivered Duty Paid’ to the delivery address contained in the purchase order or contract.

As a buyer, you therefore know the price upon which supply with the seller has been agreed is the total price to be paid and includes design, insurance, packaging, training, delivery charge, duty and storage – the seller bears all the costs and risks involved in bringing the goods to the place of destination and has an obligation to clear the goods not only for export but also for import, to pay any duty for both export and import and to carry out all customs formalities. The only additional cost would be UK VAT at the prevailing rate if applicable.

When agreeing to purchase goods under sellers’ contract terms and conditions such as a supplier contract or order form it’s very important to check the ‘INCO term basis’; most third parties will quote on an Ex Works (EXW) basis. This in turn means the price agreed is for the point when the seller places the goods at the disposal of the buyer at the seller’s premises or other named place (their factory, warehouse, etc). The seller does not need to load the goods on any collecting vehicle, nor does it need to clear the goods for export, where such clearance is applicable. For more information on

If obliged to purchase from abroad on a supplier's contract terms, it is important to determine what is included in the purchase price, and when risk and ownership pass to the purchaser. More advice and information on what the commonly used terms include are provided from Procurement Services

Q. How do I contact my Marketplace supplier to provide them with additional information about my order?

We will shortly be publishing contact details for all Marketplace suppliers . In the interim please contact either Procurement Services or look at the supplier's website for their Sales team details.

Q. I have an import order that is Medically Exempt for VAT purposes - do I need to send any additional information?

Yes, for Marketplace orders until we have another mechasim available.  Continue to code your order on CUFS as ME0% but once you have submitted your order on CUFS to the supplier please manually complete the Medical Exemption Certificate and forward this to your supplier and ask for them to pass this to their carrier who can then present it to Customs. Manual ME form is available here

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