Not a company yet but want to import from China

I have not started my company yet but want to purchase hats from China but would like to obtain a sample first. I will be approaching a number of companies in the first instance. Will I have to pay VAT? Do I need to obtain an EORI number first? What is the best way to proceed?

Once I have determined that I like the particular hat/hats, I would like to purchase them. Given that the various hats may be made of different fabrics, do I have to submit each hat application separately for each company that I purchase it from or can I submit this as one request when applying for the correct code?

All help/pointers will be greatly appreciated.

Hello - if you haven’t started your company yet I would guess you aren’t VAT registered and won’t be when you start your company. You will still need an EORI number and you can make a non-VAT registered application here:

For the initial import of the samples - assuming they are low value (i.e. under £15) and sent as samples you will not pay any import duty or VAT at this time (or need an EORI for these).

If and when you start commercial imports (you will need an EORI at this point) you will need a tariff heading for each type of hat if they are made of different materials and depending on if they are mens, women or childrens as they could be classified differently for each and for each type of material. If you ask the exporter for the hs code they use you can check it on the HMRC site here: most international codes are similar and you can check if they details match what it is you are importing.

I can’t explain the whole import process via this forum but hopefully this has helped slightly.


This is really useful information and very helpful.

Could you please clarify your comment in relation to the samples? You mention that if they are low value i.e. under £15, are you referring to each individual item or the samples as a whole?

It is my intention to add a design element to the hats and wondered if I send out RFQs to potential suppliers and send an NDA, would I have to make it applicable to UK or Chinese law or both? My concern is that they may find a loophole to exploit my idea? What do you suggest as the best way forward. Do the RFQ first and then do an NDA once I am happy they they are a suitable supplier?

I have since obtained my EORI number.

Many thanks in advance for all your help, it is much appreciated.

1 Like

I am glad you found the information useful. Samples would be per whole shipment value not per item.

I am no expert on design copyright - you would need to discuss this with an appropriate lawyer specialising in international law.