Here’s what you need to know about exporting from the UK to the EU

13 Oct 2022

If you trade internationally, you’ll know how important it is for your goods to move to and from the UK smoothly. But with new export rules in place, it’s easier said than done. In fact, some small business owners say they’ve faced 70-page long customs declarations. To help our customers, we’ve put together some information about exporting to the EU in 2022. This isn’t a definitive guide: for specific information, speak to a specialist.

Here’s what you need to know about exporting from the UK to the EU

UK to EU exports: what’s the deal?

  • Zero tariffs and quotas – in order to qualify for zero tariffs, businesses must meet the Rules of Origin requirements and ‘local’ qualification criteria. 

  • Customs and trade facilitation – businesses must complete customs declarations and paperwork when transitioning goods from the UK to the EU. 

  • Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) border checks – these are required for live animals and products of animal origin. 

  • Conformity assessments – aside from in a handful of sectors, such as medicine and chemicals, two sets of conformity assessments are performed on goods if the product is going to be sold in the UK and the EU. 

UK to EU exporting processes

Get an EORI number

You might need an EORI number if you’re exporting goods to any other country, including the EU, but you may also need one if this isn’t the case, such as if you’re making a customs declaration or are acting as a carrier for transporting goods. 

To get an EORI number, you’ll normally need to have a premises based in the country you want to import to or export from. It can take up to a week to apply. 

Prepare to export goods

When preparing to export your goods to the EU, find out if you can apply to use simplified declarations or a common or union transit to move goods. Are you eligible to benefit from Authorised Economic Operator Status ?

You’ll also need to know your commodity code – use the Trade Tariff tool to find out. 

Explore export VAT rules

Post-Brexit VAT rules are in place. 

These relate to imports, exports and the EU VAT refund system. Despite the changes, some things remain the same: for instance, the UK is still in the Common Transit Convention (CTC) and VAT-registered UK businesses can zero-rate sales of goods to EU businesses as long as they meet the criteria. 

Check the rules for exporting your goods

The rules you’ll have to meet when exporting to the EU will depend on the products you’re exporting, and you might be required to fill out additional documents. 

Things to check include:

  • Whether or not you require an export licence

  • The import rules of the country you’re exporting to

  • The rules for the exporting of excise or controlled goods 

Check the receiving business is able to import

Another thing to put on your exporting ‘to do’ list is to check that the company who will be receiving your goods has the correct licence or certificates, and that they can complete their import customs declarations if necessary. 

Complete your export declarations

There are two ways to complete export declarations: through an intermediary or by yourself. Intermediaries include freight forwarders, fast parcel operators and customs brokers. HMRC has information on getting someone to deal with customs for you

HMRC has also published a guide on how to get customs clearance yourself. Whatever route you decide to take, you’ll need to have the following details and docs to hand:

  • Commodity code

  • Certificates or licences required

  • Invoice

  • Proof of origin, if applicable

  • Departure point and destination

  • Consignee and consignor

  • Nature, amount and packaging of the goods

  • Method of transportation

Review Incoterms & Intrastat declarations 

Check your contracts to see if you need to make changes to your terms and Incoterms. 

Intrastat declarations are no longer needed for exporting goods to the EU, however an Intrastat is still required if you’re exporting from Northern Ireland to the EU, as per the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Here’s guidance on how to make a declaration.

Funding for supply chains 

At Funding Options, we’ve written at length about how additional customs checks and other post-Brexit bureaucracy is having an impact on supply chains, making it difficult for businesses in the UK to plan and trade with confidence.

Fortunately, there are business funding options out there for SME owners experiencing Brexit-related cash flow challenges, including export finance. Export finance enables you to release working capital from international transactions so you receive the money quicker and can maintain a healthy cash flow. 

There are other types too. Trade finance, for example, is a type of working capital finance that enables businesses to buy stock or inventory from a supplier. Like invoice finance, supply chain finance can help you lengthen your payment terms with suppliers. 

If you’re looking for a cash flow boost, see what you could be eligible for today. 

Find export finance

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Funding Options

Editorial team

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