What are Freeports? VAT implications

Nov 11, 2021
Stephen is one of the firm’s tax partners. He specialises in income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, inheritance tax, and stamp duty land tax. He also specialises in advising property and construction businesses.
Freeports VAT

A Freeport is designed to attract major domestic and international investment, these hubs of enterprise will allow places to carry out business inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply.​ At a Freeport, imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs. Businesses operating inside designated areas in and around the port can manufacture goods using the imports and add value before exporting again without ever facing the full tariffs or procedures. If the goods move out of the Freeport into another part of the country, however, they have to go through the full import process, including paying any tariffs.

The EMF features three main sites: 1. the East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire, 2. the East Midlands Intermodal Park (EMIP) in South Derbyshire, and 3. the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station site in Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire.

Freeports are designed to specifically encourage businesses that import, process, and then re-export goods. The East Midlands Freeport (EMF) will therefore be outside of the UK’s VAT and customs area. As a result, goods can be moved in and out of the EMF to and from locations around the world, free from import VAT, duties, and some paperwork.  Items sold within EMF may also be free of VAT. Goods held within the Freeport will be in duty and VAT suspension so will not trigger a VAT or duty charge. VAT and duty will only become payable when goods leave the Freeport into free circulation in the UK.

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Stephen Charles

Tax Partner, Sheffield


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