Exporting Goods from the UK: A Guide for Businesses

Exporting companies have a strong track record of being more productive, profitable and successful than non-exporting businesses.

Exporting allows for more growth, further outreach and the ability to achieve the company’s starting ambitions by embracing the international markets. Business profiles expand and along with the increased exposure comes greater opportunity and the introduction of more new ideas.

If your business is looking to begin exporting goods from the UK in the near future then it’s important you get it right to keep clients happy and avoid potential problems. To simplify proceedings there are two types of countries you will be exporting to: those inside and those outside of the EU.

Guide to Exporting within the EU

There are currently 28 countries within the EU. One of the major benefits for nations joining the EU is that there are fewer trading restrictions and goods are in free circulation when transferring from one EU country to another. This means duty doesn’t have to be paid on such products and there are no customs checks when sending items within the EU.


All the goods you sell to those in other EU countries must be recorded on your company’s VAT return. If the total exported within the EU goes above £250,000 then an Intrastat Declaration must be filled in too. Depending on your type of business and customers the way VAT works will differ.

Non-business Customers

UK VAT rates must be charged to most non-business customers within the EU. This is useful for companies dispatching products to the commercial international market.

VAT Registered Customers

Businesses which are VAT registered in their own country will pay the equivalent to VAT at their country’s rate (possibly as a purchase tax or other payment). Your company will need to acquire the customer’s VAT registration number to accurately fill in your own VAT return.

Non-VAT Registered Customers

When exporting to non-VAT registered customers your business will have to pay UK VAT on the goods. Only if the value is above a certain amount and you’re responsible for delivering the goods will the customer cover the VAT due to the distance selling threshold.

Guide to Exporting Outside the EU

Exporting goods to countries outside of the EU requires holding the appropriate licences for controlled goods and making the correct declarations to customs. Whether you’re sending products as close as Iceland or the other side of the world to Japan, ensuring the right VAT, duties and import taxes are paid is essential.