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Exporting goods to and from the UK/Europe

15 December 2022 by Edward Martin

Exporting goods from UK to Europe

As a member of the European union, the UK currently enjoys preferential market access to 40 of the 70 countries that have trade relations with the EU. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, with no new agreements to compensate for the loss of the previous ones, the UK will have to follow the World Trade Organisation’s MFN (Most Favoured Nation) tariffs while exporting goods. Negotiations are still underway to prevent the UK from experiencing huge losses while exporting goods.

Meanwhile, here are the steps you’ll need to follow in case of a no-deal Brexit scenario. You may have to cope with changes related to exporting and declaring excise goods like tobacco and alcohol.

Must Have's

You need to make sure your business has an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI). To continue importing goods into the UK, you will need to have a 12-digit EORI starting with GB. If your business does not have an EORI number, then you might face delays and increased costs while importing goods. However, you may not need an EORI number if your business is service-based or if you want to move goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland. If you are exporting goods to your business space in the EU, then you will need to have an EU EORI number. If you don’t have one, then you can get one from the customs authority in any EU country.

Make export declaration

To make export declarations, you can either hire an agent or do it yourself.

Hiring a customs agent

Freight forwarders, brokers, and fast parcel operators are some of the types of agents who can handle customs for you. To help you with imports from the EU, they must be established in the EU.

Freight forwarders: can assist you with moving goods around the world. They can even plan to help you get customs clearance.

Brokers or custom agents: ensure clearance through customs.

Fast parcel operators: can help you move documents, parcels, and freight around the world within a specific time frame. They can even handle customs clearance for you, provided you give them written instructions. The instructions must clarify whether these agents are acting for you directly or indirectly. If your business is new and you are still in search of a customs agent, you can find one from HMRC’s list of customs agents.

Declaring exports yourself

If you are making customs export declarations by yourself, then you must know three important things when you export goods outside the UK: how to submit, when to submit, and which boxes to complete.

  • How to submitIf you are submitting your declarations on your own, they must be sent electronically through the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. To do this, you must first apply to gain access to CHIEF and then buy third-party software to submit declarations electronically via CHIEF.

While moving merchandise in baggage or small vehicles, you will need to submit a full declaration in advance if the goods meet any of the following conditions:

– the value of the goods is over 900 Euro

– the goods weigh more than 1,000 kg

– you are moving excise or restricted goods

– the goods need a licence

– you are planning to claim relief

  • When to submitFor most of the goods that you export, you will need to submit a full declaration, without which your goods will be stopped at the border and delayed.

If you are exporting goods using the simplified declaration procedure, then you will need to present your goods to customs before you move them. Likewise, if you are sending your goods via roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel, you will be asked to show customs declarations documents. You may also be asked to pay any customs duty, excise duty, or VAT due.

  • Boxes to complete– Each time you are moving goods, you must include the commodity codein your customs declarations. You may also have to include the Customs Procedure Code (CPC) which identifies the customs procedure applied while moving the goods.

Check the tax and duty rates to be paid

If you are exporting goods from the UK to the EU, then your importer in the EU will need to pay any taxes and duties levied on the goods which you have sent. The amount of taxes and duties owed will depend on the classification of the goods.

Check the rules for your specific goods and destination

Depending on what you are exporting, you will have to check:

– if you have to apply for an export license

– the rules to export goods like alcohol and tobacco

– the rules to export controlled goods like firearms

– the import rules of the country to which you are exporting your goods

Make sure you are prepared to transport your goods

You can always hire an agent to transport your goods outside the UK, but if you’re transporting them yourself, there are some things you’ll need to do.


– Decide if you require an operator licence

– Apply for an operator licence, if you need one.

– Check if you need any other licences and permits (this depends on the countries you will be driving through)

– Check if your vehicle needs to pass an ADR test (if your vehicle will be carrying hazardous goods in bulk by road)


The driver of your vehicle will need to carry the following documents:

–  a valid passport

– a valid CPC card

– an IDP (applicable in some EU countries)


You must get clearance from the customs department before your goods leave the UK.

  1. You may need to abide by some specific rules while transporting certain goods. Your driver maybe asked to drive on routes with specific checkpoints if you are moving mixed loads or specific goods. Here are the categories and the rules:

– live animal or animal products

– dangerous goods

– perishable foods

– abnormal loads


Your driver must have copies of the following documents:

– export licenses

– a Movement Reference Number (MRN), in a no-deal Brexit scenario

– an MRN and an LRN, if you are transporting goods under the CTC
– an ATA Carnet document, if you are moving your goods temporarily out of the UK

– a TiR Carnet Document, if you are moving goods in a sealed load compartment with a seal number


In addition to the documents about the goods you’re transporting, your driver will also need to carry copies of:

– Vehicle documents for legally crossing international borders

– A written system for securing your vehicle, and a checklist showing that the system is being followed

– Other documents, such as tachograph charts and insurance

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