In cases where goods are returned to their supplier/manufacturer outside the European Union (eg, for repair), then Outward Processing Relief (OPR) is required for the re-importation of goods to the UK.
When an item is returned to its supplier, the exporting agent must be informed by the institution/department that the item is travelling under temporary export for repairs to be carried out and returned to the UK. The exporting agent should then complete an OPR form on the institution’s or department’s behalf, or give instructions on how an OPR application form should be completed.
After the repair has been carried out and the goods arrive back to be imported again into the UK, a fully completed OPR form will act as proof that VAT (ie customs) and import duty have been paid on the item's first importation and will therefore ensure that the cost of any VAT and duty due again on re-importation is waived.
Unless agents are made aware of the intention that the item will return, they will assume the export is final, ie that the goods will not return to the UK. It is therefore essential that the institution/department informs the agent from the outset to ensure the necessary paperwork is completed.
If, after export, the supplier decides to replace the faulty goods instead of repairing them, it should be noted that VAT (ie customs) is due on the full value of all new replacements.
If repaired goods are not returned in one single consignment, then the agent must be informed of this to enable them to inform HM Revenue & Customs who will note the quantity of goods being imported and the quantity which remains to be imported. (This paperwork must be presented to Customs again when the next consignment is imported.)