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Exporting goods to the EU

If you are exporting to the EU or planning to export to the EU after 31 January 2020, there are some steps you need to take. 


There are three options available, decide which export route works best for you. Expand each box to learn more.

If you choose standard export

Check you have a UK EORI number 

Make sure you have a UK EORI number with a GB prefix. If you are VAT registered, and currently trade exclusively with the EU, the UK Government should have automatically issued you a UK EORI number. However if you are below the VAT threshold, and you trade exclusively with the EU, you will need to apply for a UK EORI number via the GOV.UK website

If you are exporting in the form of sending parcels in the post (e.g. Royal Mail or Parcelforce) you will not need a UK EORI number. If you are exporting through using a parcel company (e.g. DHL), you will usually not need an EORI number as the parcel company will usually take on the role of exporter and will handle all customs declarations. If in doubt contact your parcel company to confirm the position.

In a minority of cases, perhaps because of your INCO terms or because you are exporting to a subsidiary of your own company, you may need to engage with the EU Customs Authorities. In these instances, you will need an EU EORI number that should be issued from the EU country that you are importing from.

Check the documentation you need

Your goods may need an export license and/or additional documents and certification such as safety and security declarations. This may apply if you are exporting livestock or food or controlled goods.

Decide on your declarations

Decide if you want to use a customs agent to complete customs declarations for you, or if you want to do this yourself.

Get your documents in order

  • If you are able to use a customs agent and choose to do so provide all necessary information for a customs agent to complete a combined Export and Exit Summary Declaration (Safety and Security Declaration Certificates)
  • Also check that the EU importer of your goods has an EU EORI number, obtained any relevant import certificates and completed an import declaration on their country’s import declaration system
  • Ensure the driver taking your goods has the EU import declaration in the form of a Movement Reference Number. This is what your driver needs to get the goods across the EU Border
  • Ensure the driver taking your goods has any specialist goods licenses that they need

Understand VAT

UK businesses exporting goods to EU consumers

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, distance selling arrangements will no longer apply to UK businesses and UK businesses will be able to zero rate sales of goods to EU consumers.

UK businesses exporting goods to EU businesses

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, VAT registered UK businesses will continue to be able to zero-rate sales of goods to EU businesses but will not be required to complete EC sales lists. Those UK businesses exporting goods to EU businesses will need to retain evidence to prove that goods have left the UK, to support the zero-rating of the supply. The required evidence will be similar to that required for exports to non-EU countries with any differences to be communicated in due course.

Individual EU member states may have different rules for import VAT for non-EU countries and import VAT payments may be due at the border when importing goods. UK businesses should check the relevant import VAT rules in the EU member state concerned.


If you choose to use the transit method, you should be aware of the following: 

If you don’t use a specialist custom agent, you will need to buy specialist software to complete customs declarations or train staff to make declarations online using the National Export System (NES). You will also need to register for the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS).

You may wish to consider applying for authorised consignor status – which will enable you to start transit movement at your own premises rather than from a designated Office of Departure.

If you are not using a customs agent or your customs agent does not have a guarantee, you will need to contact a bank or financial institution about arranging a guarantee which HMRC will need to authorise, before it can be put in place. 

If you are using a customs agent, they will need all the necessary information from you to complete a Transit Declaration and a combined Export and Exit Summary declaration. If you are not using a customs agent, you will need to register for both the New Computerised Transit System AND the National Export System. For each movement you will need to complete a combined Export and Exit Summary Declaration on NES, and complete a transit declaration on NCTS.

Whether you are using a Customs Agent or not, you will need to ensure the driver taking your goods has the Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) – provided either by you if you are an Authorised Consigner or from the Authorised Consignor who has agreed to make the Transit declaration on your behalf or the Local Reference Number – which they will take to the Office of Departure to get the TAD.  You will also need to ensure the driver has any specialist goods licenses necessary.


If you are using ATA Carnet (for the temporary movement of goods):

  • Apply for an ATA Carnet to avoid paying duties on goods moved temporarily into the EU
  • Ensure the driver taking your goods has the ATA Carnet document for wet-stamping


Next steps

If you need further information about importing and exporting goods after Brexit contact the Government’s helpline for cross border traders:

Imports and exports: Brexit enquiries
Telephone: 0300 3301 331
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm