Export goods to countries outside the EU: step by step

26 August 2020


Step 1: Check if you need to follow this process


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 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.

Check if you need a UK licence or certificate to export your goods

Check the duties, rules and restrictions for your goods in the destination country

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

Check if the UK has negotiated a trade agreement with the country you will be exporting to


Step 3: Register your business for exporting


Get an EORI number

Check if you should register for VAT

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

Find out about using simplified declaration procedures

Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you


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.

Apply for a licence or certificate if you need one


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.

Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you

Find out what you'll need to do if you make the customs declaration yourself

Find out how to transport goods out of the UK by road yourself


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.

Find the right commodity code for your goods


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%.

Check if you can zero rate the goods for VAT


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.

Make an export declaration and get your goods cleared by UK customs

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.

Find out how to record the goods in your VAT accounts

Fill in your VAT Return


Kindly supplied by GOV.UK


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