Exporting to the UK: everything you need to know about exporting since the Brexit

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. This makes it the first country ever to leave the European Union. Britain’s departure (‘brexit’) was the outcome of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2016.

On 1 January 2021, the transition period ended and the UK officially left the European Union. Just in time, the European Union and the UK reached a free trade agreement, which is now in force.

The new relationship between the two has changed how companies on both sides of the Channel do business. There are now border controls and importers and exporters need customs documents, certificates and licences. These were not required before.

Rotterdam Customs Services BV can help advise you on all customs-related matters.

Doing business in England: what has changed?

Exporting to England is subject to new customs obligations since the Brexit. These include import and export declarations, export certificates and other formalities such as phytosanitary quality inspections. Moreover, since 1 January 2022, you have to make an import declaration immediately when importing into the UK.

What extra arrangements do I need to make when exporting to the UK after brexit?

For all exports to England, you will face strict UK border controls from 2022. That means a number of things need to be properly arranged. Five steps you need to take:

1. Apply for an EORI number

Whenever you come into contact with customs, an EORI number is mandatory. Therefore, make an application via the application form. You will need the number for the customs declaration.

2. File an export declaration

To obtain permission from customs to export goods to the UK, file an export declaration. Without the correct documentation, it is not possible to trade goods to countries outside the EU. You can take care of this export declaration yourself, but for an efficient and fast process without delays, this task is also often outsourced to a customs agent.

3. Account for your VAT exemption

As an exporter, you do not invoice VAT to the customer in the UK. However, you must account for the VAT exemption with a validated export document or transport document. Northern Ireland does fall under the European VAT system.

4. Be on time with your import declaration to UK customs

Even before your goods arrive in the UK, the import declaration often needs to be arranged. Delay of six months is no longer possible here. If you are responsible for the import declaration yourself, a British EORI number is often required. You can choose from two models for the declaration. The pre-lodgement model, where the declaration is already made before the shipment reaches the UK port, or the temporary storage model, where you can defer paying import duties for up to 90 days. Are you travelling with your own truck? If so, you need to declare your cargo to the UK Goods Vehicle Moment Service (GVMS).

5. Additional formalities

For some products, you may have to comply with additional rules. For example, products of animal or plant origin must have a health certificate from the end of 2023. Also, all agricultural products or foodstuffs must be pre-notified in the UK system. To avoid delays on your delivery, Rotterdam Customs Services B.V. can help with the right documentation.


Are you unsure which documents apply to your exports or do you prefer to outsource the tasks? Then Rotterdam Customs Services B.V. is ready to help you with all documentation around you export to England after Brexit. Our experts are up to date with the latest changes in legislation, which means that as a business owner, you can count on fast and proper handling of all customs obligations.

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