International Trade

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport will benefit from a range of customs measures, allowing imports to enter our custom sites with simplified customs documentation and delayed payment of tariffs.

We have made provision in our tax site master plans for two customs sites and we can establish more within the Freeport outer boundary if there is business need. 

  • At Langage we have identified two adjacent linked plots, a 15,000 m2 manufacturing area and a 10,000 m2 logistics area
  • At Sherford we have a 7.9Ha site set aside as a customs logistics site
  • As these are within our tax site boundaries they also benefit from the tax and other provisions accorded to our tax sites
  • We are able to bring forward additional customs sites, subject to the HMRC authorisation process with the Freeport outer boundary. These would be subject to the suitability of the area, relevant planning permissions being submitted and granted and in consultation and agreement with relevant parties
  • We intend to appoint an HMRC authorised customs site operator to cover the whole Freeport, however if you are or can achieve HMRC authorisation and wish to manage your own customs site please contact us.

2 to 3 new foreign direct investments each year *

Freeport customs sites are considered to be outside UK customs boundaries. This means that goods brought into a Freeport customs site are conceptually still ‘off shore’. This has a number of benefits:


  • Tariff exemption – goods brought into a Freeport customs site can be processed and re-exported without the expense of formally importing them into the UK
  • Tariff suspension – goods can be brought into a Freeport customs site and stored in suspense to maximise inventory flexibility
  • Tariff inversion – goods assembled in a Freeport customs site and subsequently imported into the UK only attract the tariff associated with the finished product, which may be lower than that payable on individual components
  • Businesses operating within Freeport customs sites will also have access to simplified customs arrangements
  • In short Freeport customs benefits can reduce costs and make more efficient use of working capital too allow faster growth and more employment.

More information is available on the HMRC webpage – HMRC guidance on customs sites.

  • HMRC Freeports induction pack: guidance providing information on the tax and customs measures for businesses interested in operating within a Freeport
  • HMRC Freeports business examples: a selection of business user journeys, operating within different sectors and operating models, covering both customs and tax site benefits within a Freeport.

Freeports are expected to create national hubs for trade and investment and DfT statistics show that around 95% of all import and export tonnage is transported by sea.

Plymouth is an international port trading mainly with continental Europe, but there is a growing number of ports further afield starting to trade with Plymouth, including ports in Africa and South America.

We are committed to working with our port operators at Millbay Docks, and the Cattewater, where the Cattedown, Corporation, Turnchapel and Victoria wharves are located to optimise our port infrastructure and ensure we have the port capacity we will need.  

Our Freeport aims to further support and enhance already well-established short sea shipping routes which, as well as having the obvious benefit of reducing traffic congestion and highways maintenance costs, has huge decarbonisation potential and will be at the forefront of the city’s net zero plans.

The Freeport site at Langage offers good connectivity with the strategic road network and could act as a local hub for goods imported through the whole of the Port of Plymouth, reducing pressure on the larger ports and reducing the duration of road haulage operations.

* expected outcome of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport