Basics of exporting

Information on the benefits of exporting for UK companies and sources of advice, best practice and help.

Benefits of export

Academic research confirms that exporting companies are more productive than non exporters. They achieve stronger financial performance and are more likely to stay in business.

Doing business overseas can lead directly to growth, improvements in efficiency levels and ideas for new products and services. Once a company has started to export to a new market this tends to increase confidence and ambition, leading to further growth.

Findings from recent surveys of UKTI trade clients show:

  • 85% said exporting led to a ‘level of growth not otherwise possible’
  • 87% said exporting had significantly improved their profile or credibility
  • 78% said exporting had given them exposure to new ideas
  • 73% said exporting had increased the commercial lifespan of products or services

Information and help from government and other organisations

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

UKTI services

Exporters using UKTI’s help are around 50% more likely to report faster growth or exposure to new ideas.

Online trading support

Selling goods internationally online, including e-commerce, is a fast-growing and potentially very lucrative activity for UK exporters.

UKTI provides a range of support for online export through its existing service offering. Read more on ecommerce and the support available e-retail

The Overseas Business Networks initiative (OBNi)

The Overseas Business Networks initiative (OBNi) is a new source of support for British companies seeking to do business in 41 high-growth, difficult to access markets across the world. It provides a range of services that are complementary to those already provided by UK Trade and Investment.

It is being developed through a partnership between UKTI, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the British Chambers of Commerce.

If you’re a UK business, OBNi can link your company to:

  • market information on the Open to Export and Export Britain web sites.
  • services, support and advice in 41 markets overseas
  • intelligence on new business opportunities
  • office space in British Business Centres in some countries, and
  • a global British business network, operating at home and overseas.

UK Export Finance

UK Export Finance is the UK’s official export credit agency. It provides services such as:

  • insuring UK exporters against non-payment;
  • helping overseas buyers to purchase goods and/or services from UK exporters by guaranteeing bank loans to finance those purchases;
  • sharing credit risks with banks
  • insuring UK investors in overseas markets against political risks.

The amount and terms of support available depends on the risk involved.

Find out more about services and eligibility on the UK Export Finance website


The UK Trade Tariff gives free access to current trading information on taxes and levies, rebates, preferences, and restrictions all imports to, and exports from, the European Union.

HMRC also produces a number of free webinars for international trade

Customs and Value Added Tax (VAT)

HMRC, in partnership with UKTI, have developed online training to guide exporters through the Customs and VAT process.

HMRC classifies the export of goods based on export destination. If the goods are being sent within the EU, they are classed as dispatches. If they are being sent outside the EU, they are known as exports.

Start the online training for:

The GREAT Business website

The GREAT Business site provides practical advice and video case studies on export

UK Single Market Centre

UK Single Market Centre brings together all the practical support available to UK businesses and consumers to help them benefit from the EU single market.

Open to Export - UKTI’s free online advice service for exporters

Open to Export is a free online advice service delivered by hibu in partnership with UK Trade & Investment. It’s aimed at small and medium enterprises looking for support to grow internationally by exporting from the UK. The information on Open to Export is provided by the site’s users, community and key contributors.

Mentoring is a gateway to a national network of over 10,000 experienced mentors from a wide variety of business backgrounds. It offers - free and paid for mentoring.

Insitute for Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) Business Advice Service

The ICAEW’s Business Advice Service offers an initial free discussion with an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.