cars, UK imports services

Importing a helicopter or small light aircraft

The first thing which anyone needs to do when they import anything into the UK, is to find the UK Customs Tariff Classification code.

Section 88 of the tariff covers: Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof. This is then broken down into the following:

  • 8801 Balloons and dirigibles; gliders, hang gliders, and other non-powered aircraft
  • 8802 Other aircraft (for example, helicopters, aeroplanes); spacecraft (including satellites) and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles
  • 8803 Parts of goods of heading 8801 or 8802
  • 8804 Parachutes (including dirigible parachutes and paragliders) and rotochutes; parts thereof and accessories thereto
  • 8805 Aircraft launching gear; deck-arrestor or similar gear; ground flying trainers; parts of the forgoing articles
  • The Section which we are interested in for the purpose of this page is 8802 which covers the Light Aircraft and Helicopters.

    Both the aircraft and helicopters are further divided up based on the unladen weight. Further information on the classification of goods can be found on our dedicated page: Customs Commodity Classification Codes


    It would be worth your while reading the Customs tariff, as there are commodity footnotes regarding controls on exports to and imports from certain locations. It also outlines the vehicles/parts which do not fall under this section of the tariff, such as radio-controlled helicopters or drones, which we believe to fall under Section 9503 for Toys (this may not apply to all drones, check with UK Customs regarding your particular type/style and it may depend on any additional functions, such as cameras and other recording equipment which could fall under Section 8525).

    We, at UK Import Services, have assisted with the Customs clearance of a few different types of Helicopters and Light Aircraft recently (2018).

    The following is some of the information which those importers found useful, and we therefore hope that it is of help to you.

    To start, here is an attempt at a brief summary of how the Customs process works…

    Let’s base this example on a popular Cessna 172 Skyhawk Light Aircraft coming into Southend Airport (the same principles apply to any, so it could just as well be a Fixed-Wing Microlight coming in to Oxford Airport)

    Southend Airport [SEN] is a designated airfield and will be OK for your aircraft to land at. Your aircraft will have to land at the airport and then you will need to inform us and only then can we declare it to UK Customs. Once Customs receive our paperwork, they will decide if they want to go to Southend and physically examine it, or if they will just advise the amount of VAT payable (assuming everything is OK with the paperwork).

    Once UK Customs advise how much VAT is payable, we will send you our invoice(s) for this and our charges. Upon receiving your payment, we will pay Customs. Once they tie up the payment with our paperwork, Customs will send us a stamped release note indicating that the aircraft has cleared Customs.

    You should allow for the aircraft to remain at Southend during this period, hopefully for no more than 2 or 3 working days, but this depends on UK Customs (they have been known to take 8-10 working days).

    FAQ:Do we have to declare how much fuel is on board? A. As far as we are aware, UK Customs will not be interested about how much fuel is in the tank. (They haven’t in the past and it certainly won’t be anything that we need to voluntarily declare).

    The following is a list of the most commonly used, small airfields:

    Customs Tariff – Volume 3 – Appendix C2 Section 9-7

    Non-Designated Airports

  • George Best Belfast City Airport BHD
  • Gloucester (Staverton) Airport GLO
  • Kemble Airport KEM
  • Lasham Airport LAS
  • Oxford Airport (Kidlington) OAK
  • Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield DSA
  • Stornaway Airport STY
  • Warton Aerodrome WAR
  • Please note:

    There are various other airfields in the UK, such as Denham Aerodrome or Rochester Airport, but unfortunately if your goods i.e. helicopter, light aircraft, glider etc., is located at a non-approved airfield, one not listed as an approved point of clearance, listed above, then it will have to be moved to an approved location.

    As another example, your you had a helicopter at Denholm Aerodrome, then Oxford Airport (Kidlington) is probably the nearest approved airfield, so you would probably have to move the helicopter to Oxford just in case Customs decide to go an look at it.

    If you’re interested…

    Here are the details for Oxford Airport: EGTK - OX5 1RA Oxford Airport Website (Denham Aerodrome to Oxford Airport = approx. 40 Miles)

    If flying the helicopter is not an option, for whatever reason, then you would have to look at the option to move it by road.

    Other airports are an option, close to Denholm, such as London City [LCY] airport and Southend Airport [SEN] but as you probably know, the landing costs will probably a lot higher for these more commercially used airfields, so we haven’t included any of these in the above list.

    Please contact the Imports Team for more information

    Further Reading:

    This is a link to the CAA website about registering an aircraft:

    If you are looking at importing a light aircraft or helicopter into the UK, for registering here, then please contact a member of our Imports team who should be able to assist you. Please feel free to contact a member of our Imports Team, on 0345 309 6360, or email us at:

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