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EU Exit: Exporting

Help for businesses that export goods to the EU

EU Exit Exporting

Customs declarations

Since the 1st January 2022 most customers will have to make declarations and pay relevant tariffs at the point of import. You can appoint an intermediary, such as a customs agent, to deal with your declarations on your behalf or you can submit them yourself.

For more information, find out how to get someone to deal with customs for you.

Some businesses already have a ‘Simplified Declarations’ authorisation from HMRC that allows their goods to be released directly to a specified customs procedure without having to provide a full customs declaration at the point of release.

If you want to use Simplified Declarations, you’ll need authorisation to do so. It can take up to 60 calendar days to complete the checks needed for this and you will also need to have a Duty Deferment Account in place. 

You must use the correct country code for the country of origin and the country of dispatch when you complete your customs declaration. For EU countries, the individual country code of the relevant member state should be used. The EU country code must not be used and will be removed from systems shortly.

Border controls

Ports and other border locations are required to control goods moving Great Britain and the EU. This means that unless your goods have a valid declaration and have received customs clearance, they will not be able to be released into circulation, and in most cases will not be able to leave the port. Your goods may be directed to an Inland Border Facility for documentary or physical checks if these checks cannot be done at the border.

You must also submit an “arrived” export declaration if your goods are moving through one of the border locations that uses the arrived exports process. If you do not follow the correct process, the new systems will not permit your goods to leave the country and they will be turned away as they will not hold export clearance.

If you use a service such as a courier or freight forwarder to move your goods, you need to check their terms and conditions about who will make the declarations, and what other information they need from you to do this.

Rules of origin – for imports and exports

The UK’s deal with the EU, called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), means that the goods you import or export may benefit from a reduced rate of Customs Duty (tariff preference). To use this, you need proof that the goods you:

  • import from the EU originate there
  • export to the EU originate in the UK

By ‘originate’ we mean where goods (or the materials, parts or ingredients used to make them) have been produced or manufactured. It is not where the goods have been shipped or bought from. Your goods will need to meet the product specific rules of origin requirements set out in the TCA.

UK and EU importers can claim tariff preference if they have one of the following proofs of origin:

  • a statement on origin – this must be made out by the exporter to confirm that the product originates in the UK or EU
  • the importer’s knowledge – this option allows the importer to claim tariff preference based on their own knowledge of where the goods they’re importing originate from

If you export goods to the EU and you provide the EU importer with a statement on origin, you may also need to have a supplier declaration in place. These are needed to confirm the origin of the goods you’re exporting when the manufacture alone is not enough to meet the product specific rules of origin.

From 1 January 2022 you must have had supplier declarations (where required) at the time you export your goods.

If you’re subject to a request for verification by EU customs authorities and you can’t provide this supporting evidence, your EU customer will be liable to pay the full (non-preferential) rate of Customs Duty and we may also charge you a penalty.

Even if goods you import from the EU are eligible for tariff preference, normal VAT rules will still apply.

Postponed VAT Accounting

If you’re a VAT-registered importer, you can continue to use Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) on all customs declarations that require you to account for import VAT, including supplementary declarations, except when HMRC have told you otherwise. PVA has already provided significant cash flow benefits for thousands of our customers, and we expect that most businesses will choose to use it.


Hauliers moving goods through a location that uses the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) will need to get a Goods Movement Reference (GMR) to move goods. Hauliers should not travel to the port without a finalised GMR.

Goods without a GMR will not be allowed to embark, unless this instruction has been explicitly issued by HMRC.

The Customs & International Trade helpline offers 24/7 help for urgent issues preventing goods progressing through the border Telephone: 0300 322 9434 )
and can advise on  customs queries including:

  • Help moving goods at all border locations
  • General advice on the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS)
  • Problems registering for GVMS
  • Error messages when creating Goods Movement Reference (GMR)


The way businesses export goods to the EU changed on 1 January 2021, when the transition period ended.

The process exporters need to follow has changed:

  1. Checking the rules for exporting your goods
  2. Apply for any licences you need to export your goods
  3. Get your business ready to export
  4. Check whoever's receiving the goods can import them
  5. Decide who will make export declarations and transport the goods
  6. Classify your goods
  7. Prepare the invoice and other documentation for your goods
  8. Get your goods through customs
  9. Keep invoices and records

The full step-by-step guide can be found here

Below we have outlined some of the key changes in the exporting process.

Contact the Growth Hub

EORI Number

You need an EORI number that starts with GB to export goods from England, Wales or Scotland.

Rules of Origin

Rules of origin form are a key part of the UK/EU trade agreement. Rules of origin are the criteria used to define where component products are ‘made’, this has important implications for the import and export of goods into the European Union.

To export tariff-free under the agreement, goods must meet the UK-EU preferential rules of origin. This means that there must be a qualifying level of processing in the country of export to access zero tariffs but only if their product meets the relevant Rules of Origin. 

How do Rules of Origin impact my business? 

To export tariff-free into the EU, traders must check their goods meet the Rules of Origin requirements set out in the UK-EU trade agreement and have the right documentation. If your goods do not meet the Rules of Origin, they may face a tariff upon export to the EU. 

What action do I need to take? 

If you are a UK exporter and your EU importer wants to claim zero tariffs on your goods, there are 3 key steps to work out whether your goods comply with rules of origin: 

1. Classify your good – every good has a commodity code and a list is available on 

2. Understand whether your good meets the applicable rule of origin from the UK/EU Trade agreement. You can also use the export checker tool to find out what rule of origin applies to your exports. 

3. Understand how to demonstrate origin to the customs authorities. For help in working out whether your goods comply and how to demonstrate this to customs authorities, read the rules of origin guidance on trading with the EU. 

You may choose to use a customs agent to help you with rules of origin and there is guidance available here on how to find one. 

Useful Resources