LVBI Authorisation – What Has Changed?

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By Hemisphere

Importers in the UK can save on duty and tax by bulk clearing several consignments of low-value items, instead of declaring each individual consignment.

Up until 31 December 2020, traders required LVBI (Low Value Bulking of Imports) authorisation to arrange bulk clearances. On 1 January 2021, LVBI was replaced by BIRDS (Bulk Import Reduced Data Set).

While BIRDS works in a similar way to LVBI, there are a few differences that can make it more beneficial for importers.

LVBI (Low Value Bulking Of Imports)

LVBI allowed authorised traders to bulk clear multiple consignments of low-value goods, rather than having to declare them all as individual items. This was especially useful for e-commerce firms, many of which import thousands of items per day.

Under LVBI, all low-value items with an individual value of no more than £15.00 could be customs cleared in bulk in batches of up to 99 items per HAWB (House Air Waybill) – and these were imported duty and tax free.

LVBI-authorised traders, such as HFS, could also clear medium-value consignments in a similar way. Medium-value items are valued between £15.00 and £135.00 – these could be cleared free of duty, but were liable to 20% import VAT. Any item with a value over £135.00 was liable to duty and 20% VAT.


LVBI facilitation was no longer available following the introduction of the Union Customs Code (UCC) by the European Union in 2016. However, HFS was able to continue using the facilitation, as it already held LVBI authorisation on 1 May 2016.

While the EU has since rolled out an equivalent scheme – the Simplified Declaration Procedure – the UK government has introduced BIRDS (Bulk Import Reduced Data Set).

Having previously held LVBI authorisation, HFS was automatically authorised to continue processing bulk imports through BIRDS.

What Is BIRDS?

BIRDS, much like LVBI, allows traders to declare two or more low-value consignments in a single declaration when importing goods to the UK.

However, while LVBI allowed bulk clearance of up to 99 low-value items, BIRDS doesn’t place a limit on the number of items that can be cleared in one declaration. Instead, importers can clear unlimited items up to the value of £135 per consignee, without having to pay duty on the goods.

By lifting the duty-free threshold from £15 to £135, BIRDS effectively removes the distinction between low-value and medium-value items. It also removes the VAT liability on goods valued between £15 and £135. This should now be paid by the seller.

BIRDS-Authorised For E-Commerce Shipments

Anyone can apply for BIRDS authorisation, subject to certain conditions, but most importers don’t have the capacity to regularly clear thousands of parcels themselves. That’s where we can help.

At HFS, we have full customs authorisation at London Heathrow under BIRDS, making us one of a few freight companies in the UK to be fully BIRDS-authorised and AEO-accredited. All cargo is customs cleared and arranged through our ETSF customs bonded area within our Heathrow warehouse, in accordance with current HMRC regulations.

We offer same-day turnaround from flight arrival, through customs clearance to actual dispatch, whether that be re-mailing or delivery to a distribution centre such as Amazon.

If you’d like to find out more about our e-commerce logistics solutions and how our 100% same-day turnaround can offer your business a genuine competitive advantage, please get in touch with our team today.