A guide to UK Freeports


The UK government has committed to establishing Freeports in each of the four nations, with a target of 10 across the UK (including a minimum of one in each of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, if supported by the devolved administrations).

Under the UK government model, a Freeport is an area with Customs and Tax benefits and a simplified Planning regime. There is a maximum permitted distance of 45 km between any two points of the ‘outer boundary’ of the Freeport area.

The UK Freeport model aims to achieve three core objectives and six related outcomes:

Objective 1 - establish Freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment across the UK

  • Trade: increase in trade throughput through the designated Freeport area.
  • Investment: increase in investment within Freeport boundary area, surrounding area and nationally.

Objective 2 – promote regeneration and job creation (Lead policy objective)

  • Employment: increased number of jobs and average wages in deprived areas in and around the Freeport.
  • Economic activity: increase in economic specialisation in activities high in GVA relative to the current makeup of the local economy.

Objective 3 – create a hotbed of innovation

  • Innovation: Increased local involvement and funding in R&D and innovation.
  • Productivity: Increased productivity in each target region, through increased capacity to absorb innovation.

Once established, Freeports (and those conducting business through them, or established within them) will benefit from a range of measures, exemptions, reliefs and streamlined processes to support delivery of the core objectives. The key areas of benefit include Customs, Tax and a simplified Planning regime. 

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