Exporting and doing business abroad

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Export outside the EU

You need to complete certain tasks to move goods to outside the EU. Import duty might need to be paid 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. Get an EORI number, if you do not have one. It usually takes 5 working days. You’ll need it to move goods to a country that is not in the EU.

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

  4. Find your goods’ commodity code - you’ll need this for your export declaration and commercial invoice.

  5. 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.

  6. The completed invoice and any licences or certificates must travel with the goods.

Your transporter or customs agent will use your commercial invoice to make an export declaration. Your goods can be held up in customs if the information you give is not accurate.

It’s possible to make your own customs declarations, but most businesses use a transporter or customs agent to make customs declarations for them.

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

Applying zero-rate VAT

Check if you can zero rate the goods for VAT. This means you can charge your customers VAT at 0%.

  1. Step 1 Apply for operator licences and permits

    1. Check if you need a vehicle operator licence
    2. Apply for a vehicle operator licence

    You will need other licences and permits, depending on the countries you're driving to or through.

    1. Check which licences and permits you need

    Your vehicle must pass a specialist test before you can transport dangerous goods (ADR test).

    1. Book a specialist vehicle test
  2. Step 2 Make sure your driver is eligible to drive abroad

  3. Step 3 Check the rules for the goods you're carrying

    1. Find out what you need to do if you're exporting your own goods

    There are rules for transporting certain goods. Your driver may need to follow set routes or stop at specific check points if you’re transporting mixed loads or specific types of goods. Check the rules for:

    1. Find out what you need to apply for if you’re moving goods temporarily out of the UK

    If you're transporting goods outside the EU they must have been cleared by customs (given ‘permission to progress’). The exporter can tell you if this has happened.

  4. Step 4 Make sure your driver has the right export documents

    Your driver will need copies of:

    • any export licences
    • the road consignment note (‘CMR note’)
    • the Movement Reference Number (MRN) from the export declaration - if you're moving goods out of the EU
    • the MRN and the Local Reference Number (LRN) - if you're moving goods under the Common Transit convention (CTC)
    • the ATA Carnet document - if you're moving goods out of the EU temporarily
    • the TiR Carnet document - if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment with a seal number

    The exporter should be able to give all of these to you.

    You'll also need to have a customs seal approval certificate for the vehicle if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment. You'll get this when your vehicle passes the TiR test.

  5. Step 5 Find out what vehicle documents your driver needs to carry

  6. Step 6 Check local road rules

    1. Check the road rules for European countries on the AA website
    2. Check travel advice for countries outside Europe

    When you have your documents, insurance and any extra equipment you need, you can transport goods abroad.