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Northern Powerhouse European Union

What businesses need to do

Check what guidance you need to follow

Key Changes

The UK has made continuity agreements with many countries and continues to negotiate further FTAs, however, businesses should still check changes to processes, tariffs and quotas as part of our new arrangements. Some preferential trade terms will have changed and it’s important you check these to mitigate risks to your business. 

It’s also important to check WTO tariffs to understand impacts from trade with countries not covered by continuity agreements or Free Trade Agreements.  

The government have published guidance on how to export goods from the UK to outside the EU, including how much tax and duty businesses need to pay and whether they need to get a licence or certificate, as outlined below: 

Step 1: Check what guidance you need to follow 

You need to follow this process if you're moving goods to a country outside the EU. What you need to do is different if you are: 

Step 2: Check the rules for exporting your goods 

Check if you need a licence or certificate to export your goods from the UK. You also need to check if there are any restrictions or special rules in the country you want to export to. 

The rules for trading with some countries outside the EU might change from 1 January 2021. 

Step 3: Register your business for exporting 

You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that export goods regularly. 

Step 4: Apply for a licence or certificate if you need one 

How soon you need to start the application process and what you need to do depends on the type of goods you’re exporting. 

Step 5: Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods 

You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself. Most businesses that export goods use a transporter or customs agent. 

There are grants available for recruitment, training and IT to support you if you are completing customs declarations yourself. Find out more here. 

Step 6: Classify your goods 

You must find the right commodity code to classify the goods you're exporting. Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this. 

Step 7: Prepare the invoice and other documentation for your goods 

The completed invoice and any licences or certificates must travel with the goods. When filling in the value of your goods on the invoice, use the price you’re selling them for. List separately any freight or export insurance you included in the price. For free samples, use the market value of the goods. 

You might be able to zero-rate the goods for VAT. This means you can charge your customers VAT at 0%. 

Step 8: Get your goods through customs 

If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border. 

You may need other documentation to get your goods into the destination country. Ask the person or business buying your goods what information you need to provide. 

Step 9: Keep invoices and records 

You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork. 

If you exported controlled goods, for example, firearms keep the paperwork that shows who owns the goods. 

If you're VAT registered, record the goods in your VAT accounts and report them on your VAT Return. You'll need to do this even if you zero-rated them. 

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