The Chancellor has waived import taxes on medical equipment crucial to the fight against coronavirus, in a bid to reduce red tape to ensure equipment gets to frontline health workers faster
NHS suppliers will no longer have to pay customs duty and import VAT on specific medical goods coming from outside the EU, including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing.
The government says the removal of the tariffs, which can be up to 12% on the price of these goods, will be in place until 31 July 2020.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘We are taking decisive action to ensure our NHS has everything it needs to fight this outbreak.
‘Waiving import taxes on vital medical equipment such as ventilators will speed up and increase the supply of critical items going to our frontline health workers.
‘Dealing with coronavirus is a collective national effort and I will do everything I can to help us win this battle.’
The changes, which were introduced last Friday, will also make the UK more attractive to companies who want to produce or donate supplies to fight coronavirus. Disaster-relief agencies importing goods for free circulation to meet their needs during the coronavirus emergency can also claim relief.
The list of goods exempt from import taxes includes ventilators, Covid-19 testing kits, face masks, protective garments and eye protectors, and was created by the Department of Health.
Under the current rules, importers require a duty deferment account with HMRC backed by a guarantee. Importers of these critical goods would need to increase the level of their guarantee to cover any additional duty due.
The new relief can be claimed from HMRC immediately by state organisations, including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law who are supplying the NHS. Other approved organisations wanting to supply the NHS can also apply to HMRC. Companies benefiting from the relief need to first be approved by HMRC.
VAT on domestic supplies is not affected by this relief. Suppliers must charge and account for VAT on the onward sale at the normal rate. HMRC says it will be publishing further guidance on how to treat these supplies in VAT business records.