Exporting and doing business abroad

Export licences and special rules

You may need a licence or to follow special rules to export restricted goods or to sell certain services abroad.

Check the import rules of the country you’re exporting to. Talk to your importer or get help researching your export market.

Animals, plants and agricultural products

Medical devices and agricultural machinery

Chemicals, drugs and waste

Diamonds and arts

Goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment

Firearms and ammunition

Military goods, services and technology

You must get a licence to:

  • export military goods, or sell military services or technology outside the UK
  • arrange the sale of military goods, services or technology outside the UK
  • arrange the transfer of military goods, services or technology between 2 countries outside the UK
  • provide classified military information to someone based outside the UK

Goods and services used for both civilian and military purposes (‘dual use’)

You may need a licence for some civilian goods, technologies and information if they could also have a military use. These things are called ‘dual use’.

Check if you need a licence if you:

  • export high-tech products like specialist computers, radios and other communications equipment
  • develop software that could be used for information security systems (for example, cryptographic technology)
  • share information, knowledge or skills that could be used to make weapons

Sanctions

There are different types of sanctions for finance, trade and immigration. Check if your goods or services are controlled under UK sanctions when exporting.

You may not be allowed to export to someone on the financial sanctions list.

  1. 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:

    1. Get exporting advice on great.gov.uk
  2. 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.

    1. You are currently viewing: Check if you need a UK licence or certificate to export your goods
    2. 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 after Brexit.

    1. Check if the UK has negotiated a trade agreement with the country you are exporting to after Brexit
  3. Step 3 Register your business for exporting

    1. Get an EORI number
    2. 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.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  4. 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.

    1. You are currently viewing: Apply for a licence or certificate if you need one
  5. 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.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
    2. Find out what you'll need to do if you make the customs declaration yourself
    3. Find out how to transport goods out of the UK by road yourself
  6. 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.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  7. 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%.

    1. Check if you can zero rate the goods for VAT
  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. Find out how to record the goods in your VAT accounts
    2. Fill in your VAT Return