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Important VAT information for goods being sent outside of the EU for repair or sale

There are a number of procedures that you must complete when sending goods outside of the EU for repair or sale. If you require any further information, please contact us on +44 (0)118 378 6530 or

Please read the University's VAT Office Customs Duty Guide (section 9.3).

Sending goods for repair outside of the EU

If you are sending goods outside the EU for repair you must follow these instructions to avoid paying VAT on their return. The exact wording used is essential.

  1. In addition to everything else that is required, in the 'Description of Goods' on your Pro Forma invoice you must include the following:
    • Serial or product numbers, and whether items are under warranty
    • RATE OF YIELD (this is the number of items going out and coming back - e.g. (1 of 1)
    • ESTIMATED TIME BEFORE RE-IMPORT (in terms of dates)
    • The value of the goods
    • Make sure you also include the correct trade tariff harmonization/ commodity code for your equipment in Pro-Forma description
    • In the 'reason for export' section, you must include - "CPC 21 00 004 OPR STATUS GOODS, REPAIR & RETURN "
  2. On your Air Waybill (or point this out to Postal Services staff if they are being sent on a central service) include the following in the description of contents:
      Replace [GOODS] with a short description of the item/s, e.g. "ACME test instrument".
    • This process appears to run most smoothly when the inbound carrier is the same as the outbound, if this is possible. We currently use DHL for outbound.
    • On the return invoice they must state the following:
    • Re-imported after - (state period out of country)
    • include the serial number/product code
    • State warranty goods NO CHARGE REPAIR ONLY (if this is the case)
    • An actual charge still has to be indicated if there is one along with the value of the goods and the number of items.

    • "OPR STATUS GOODS" along with a full description in the Description of Contents box.
    • Mark X in the Permanent Export box.
    • They must ensure the value declared on the Air Waybill is the same as on the invoice.
    • They must include the original DHL outgoing airwaybill number that they received the goods under, in the description.

Selling goods outside the EU

The University's VAT liaison office (+44 (0)118 378 5457 or has issued guidance notes on dealing with exports. The following is an extract:

3. Proof of Export

The University must ensure that proof of export is readily available for inspection by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and retain such proof for six years.

Proof of export consists of

  • Official evidence - normally a Single Administrative Document (SAD) (Form C88 stamped by Customs on exit of the goods from the UK; OR
  • Commercial evidence (see below)

Commercial evidence is of two types:

  • Primary evidence issued by shipping lines, airlines and railway companies in the form of waybills.
  • Secondary evidence issued by freight forwarders and carriers who export goods for exporters (DHL are frequently used by the University)

The text in the list below has the force of law.
Proof of export MUST clearly identify:

  • The supplier (The University);
  • The consignor (where a carrier is used);
  • The customer;
  • The goods;
  • An accurate value;
  • The export destination; AND
  • The mode of transport

4. Postal exports

Goods exported by post may be zero-rated if they are direct exports and the University holds the necessary evidence of posting to an address outside the EC. The rules provide for using the various services offered by the Post Office, as well as the services provided by courier and fast parcel service operators. The University Postal Services only recommend the use of DHL in these circumstances. Please note that Postal Services require that you email them at in advance of sending (or taking) the item to them, repeating your request (on their Service Request Label) for DHL for VAT purposes. They require a description of the item to be sent and destination details. Please ensure that Postal Services provide you with a copy of the DHL Shipment Receipt, which should be retained for six years.

Proof must be retained for six years and to that end we return all documentation to the sending Department with a label indicating as such.

Did you know...

most mail and parcel services available in Postal Services are sold at discounted rates, so we are usually cheaper than the Post Office and other carriers!

Contact us

Internal mail enquiries

  • Telephone:
    +44 (0)118 378 7302

External mail and personal mail enquiries

  • Telephone:
    +44 (0)118 378 6530