Import from Italy – 5 tips to help you
Import from Italy largely consist of a wide range of industrial, food and consumer products, and as part of EU trade cooperation, Italy is easy to import from. The country is a popular travel destination, which makes it more inviting to visit potential suppliers. Here we review some of the main points you will need to pay special attention to when you start up as an importer of products from Italy.
1. Choose your Italian supplier with care
The Italian culture is warm and welcoming, but when it comes to business, the emphasis is on personal relationships and trust. The time you invest in learning about your supplier is usually time well spent.
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A meeting with time to share experiences and stories is usually the basis for a good working relationship. If this is not practical, then an introduction from a mutual acquaintance might be a good alternative.
Although contracts are legally binding, it will often be the oral agreements that rank the highest. Hierarchy and age are both cornerstones of the Italian business world, alongside long negotiations and loud discussions being part of Italian business customs.
2. Search the prices of imports from Italy
Basically, it is important to develop a formal agreement with your provider when you need to import products from Italy. The debate and the process is often more important than the agreement itself, not least to align expectations between the parties. The supplier agreement should include elements such as:
- The agreed price
- Who pays for imports from Italy to the UK
- Which products you have purchased
- When the shipment should be ready
- How the products need to be packed
3. Transport from Italy takes place with truck
When you import from Italy to the UK, transport will usually take place by truck. Train can also be an effective way to transport large shipments.
If your shipment fills more than 8-10 cubic meters, this will take up a significant part of a truck’s capacity. Therefore, the hauler will often go directly to the supplier’s address and retrieve the goods in the same truck used to transport the shipment to the UK and deliver to your address.
If the shipment is a smaller size, it is often taken in a small van and driven to a local distribution centre. Here it is loaded on to a truck along with other items, which are also going to the UK, where it is again sent via a distribution centre, before it is delivered to your address.
You should expect the road from Italy to the UK to take about 4-6 days by default, via distribution centres.
4. Be aware of access conditions at your supplier
Italy is a big country and generally has very good infrastructure. However, small mountain towns or narrow roads may make collection of merchandise complicated.
During your selection of an Italian supplier, it is important to confirm that conditions are adequate. If necessary, check how the supplier usually gets items picked up.
If the address is not accessible for trucks, it is important to agree on an alternative pickup location in advance. If this is necessary, ensure that it is clear from the agreement that the goods are the supplier’s responsibility until they are delivered to your hauler at the appointed pickup location.
5. No tariff on imports from Italy to the UK
Italy is a member of the EU, and therefore there is no duty on imports from Italy to the UK. The EU considers member countries as part of one large common market where goods can move freely from one country to another without customs duties.
It is still important to get a commodity code for the goods you will be importing from Italy. This code can be found at Trade Tariff. The code ensures that you are complying with the right regulations and that you are paying the right taxes and duties.
Additionally, your business should be registered with the UK VAT. You should give your Italian supplier your VAT registration number so that you only pay VAT in the UK, rather than paying the Italian equivalent as well.
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Import from Italy with Transporteca
Transporteca has a large network of trucking companies that have very good public transport from Italy to the UK. The best option for you depends on your specific needs. On the portal you can compare rates and transit times for freight from Italy, and save time and money by ordering online.