Exporting and doing business abroad

Export outside the EU

There are more tasks to complete to export outside the EU than within it. You may also need to pay import duty in the country you’re exporting to.

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

  2. Check if you need a licence to export restricted goods outside the UK.

  3. Find your goods’ commodity code - you’ll need this for your commercial invoice. The code affects any import duty that will be charged.

  4. Register for an EORI number, if you don’t have one. It usually takes 3 working days. Tell your courier or freight forwarder the number when you get it.

  5. Your courier or freight forwarder will ask you to complete a commercial invoice. When filling in the value of your goods, use the price you’re selling them for (listing separately any freight or export insurance you included in the price). For free samples, use the market value of the goods.

  6. Attach the commercial invoice (and licence, if you need one) to your consignment.

Your courier or freight forwarder will use your commercial invoice to make an official customs declaration. Your goods can be held up in customs if the information you give isn’t accurate.

It’s possible to make your own customs declarations, but the process is more complicated and only suitable for more experienced exporters. You’ll need to arrange transport yourself.

After you export

You must:

  • keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork for 6 years
  • pay any tax or duty you owe in the destination country - you won’t usually pay UK duty on exports

If you’re VAT registered, you can zero-rate the VAT on most goods you export to non-EU countries.