Importing from India to the UK

19th April 2021

India is one of the world’s largest exporters of goods and has a vibrant, growing, economy. Trade between the UK and India totalled more than £20 billion in 2018 ( According to Trading Economics, top imports were minerals, machinery, clothing and pharmaceuticals during 2019. 


At T.Ward, we have seen an increase in imports from India to the UK. Along with China, India is the UK’s largest source of imports. 


Transit times from India to the UK for sea freight


Shipping goods from India via sea freight usually takes between 21 and 30 days, depending on port of departure and arrival. If your goods are shipped by FCL, times will be slightly quicker as there will be less processing time for your goods compared to LCL.


The major ports in India include Nhava Sheva (Mumbai), Port of Mundra (Gujarat) and Port of Chennai. Freight sails from India to London Gateway, Southampton and Felixstowe. We will ensure your goods are delivered from the port to your door, wherever you are in the UK.


Air Freight from India

Transit times are quicker via air freight due to the shorter journey times. However, there are limits on the amounts that can be transported via air and security controls are stricter. Airfreight can be the best method of shipment where timing is crucial. Find out more about airfreight. 


Customs clearance for goods from India

If you are importing any goods via sea or air freight you will always need to arrange customs clearance of your goods and pay the relevant import taxes and duties owed to HMRC.


You can appoint your own clearance agent who can arrange all customs formalities for you.


Import duty and VAT on goods from India

The amount of import duty and VAT you pay on your goods will depend on their commodity code.  Your Indian seller will be able to inform you what HS (harmonized commodity) or Commodity code they use and from this we/you can determine with UK HMRC what the import VAT and duty levels will be.

For further information please go to the government's online list of global tariffs.





Your goods will be collected from factory in India, then go to a warehouse close to port of departure. They will then be stuffed into a shipping container, of which there could be several other shipments as well. 


Typically, it takes around 28-30 days port/port from India to Felixstowe or Southampton. On arrival to the UK the container will then be discharged from the container ship and wait for UK customs approval. After approval, the container will go to a warehouse and be unloaded.  The warehousemen will then palletise individual shipments ready for collection.



The process is very similar to LCL but usually the whole container will be stuffed at the factory and then sent directly to the port of loading in India.

On arrival in the UK you can either have the whole FCL container delivered to a warehouse of your choice or the whole container can be delivered to your depot where you can unload items.


More on sea freight 


Costs for shipping goods from India to the UK


As a freight forwarder, we will provide you with a quote tailored to your exact requirements. This will depend on your goods (their weight, volume etc) and choice of transportation. 


Useful links 

Advice for first time importers 

UK Govt guide to importing into the UK 

United Kingdom imports from India