At a freeport, imported goods can enter with simplified customs procedures and this is usually without paying tariffs.
Businesses operating inside assigned areas in and around the port can manufacture goods using the imports and improve them, adding value, before exporting again without ever facing the full tariffs or customs procedures.
However, if the goods move out of the freeport into another part of the country, they have to go through the full import process, including the payment of any customs duties and taxes.
Freeports are similar to free zones, or ‘enterprise zones’, which are designated areas subject to a broad array of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support.
The main difference is that a freeport is designed to specifically encourage businesses that import, process and then re-export goods.
Will the UK adopt Freeports post Brexit?
In October 2020 the UK government has proposed the introduction of up to ten freeports across the UK. Cities and towns across the country will be able to submit bids to obtain "freeport" status.