Looking to export UK goods? Perhaps you’re a business selling abroad, a charity sending relief, or a family making the decision to emigrate? There are a variety of shipping options available to you, and lots of factors to consider, like budget, insurance and documentation. Read through our checklist to getting items overseas, and you’re sure to make it a success.

Shipping cargo

Exporting Goods from the UK

1. Do Your Research

First and foremost, have you researched shipping companies properly? Check out Google results, shop around for quotes, ask lots of questions, and make sure they’re a BIFA member. If you want to sell goods, it’s also important to establish demand, look into competitors, confirm legislation (e.g. use Incoterms), and understand pricing and taxes. Once you’ve considered these factors, you can put an export strategy together, and organise resources and goals for your new venture.

2. Budget Sufficiently

Have you secured the capital to commit to overseas shipping? Most companies are likely to take payment upfront, for you to then receive your Bill of Lading document (a legal document of title for the goods in your container), or electronic Waybill. If you have a confirmed buyer for your exports, also make sure you agree payment terms, and keep hold of documentation until money has been received. And, steer clear of any losses by keeping an eye on exchange rate fluctuations.

People budgeting

3. Choose a Shipping Method

You can choose from sea, air, road and rail (or a mixture of these) to export your goods. Which one you decide depends on a number of factors such as budget, timescales, and product type. Your provider may also offer options to help you save time and money (e.g. consolidating smaller shipments), give advice on rules and regulations in your new market, or arrange multimodal shipments. Everyone is different, so you have to choose what works best for you.

4. Check Export Documents and Customs

Exporting from the UK requires the right documentation, and Customs Codes if you’re selling products. Licensing also varies from country to country, ie. do you need an Import Licence or Certificate of Origin? Are you aware of the customs duties and reliefs? Do you need an EORI number for trading outside of the EU? Your choice of shipping method will also have an impact, as the rules vary between air and sea freight. Getting the paperwork right is crucial when you’re crossing borders, to avoid worries such as delays, additional costs, or lost deals.

5. Get Insured

It’s highly recommended to insure your products, and this isn’t usually included as standard. Accidents rarely happen, but it’s important to veer on the edge of caution. A range of policies are available, and your provider is sure to offer advice on the best option for you. As it’s not particularly expensive either, insurance is a worthwhile investment to give you extra peace of mind.

Container packing

6. Pack Properly

Many companies offer professional packing – especially for fragile items like glassware, or valuable items like antiques. However, if you’re packing yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Ensure that everything in your container is secured, evenly balanced, and controlled for condensation. You should also keep a packing list of the contents, and remember that household effects are treated differently to commercial shipments – which may require a record of invoice copies. It’s also your responsibility to declare hazardous goods such as batteries, paint, gasses…and even large volumes of walnuts (!) Record seal numbers before containers leave the site, and get them checked when they arrive at destination.

7. Reclaim VAT

Goods that leave the EU are VAT-exempt, as long as you can provide proof of export – a VAT invoice with the relevant goods on the export documentation. VAT is usually claimed back from your supplier (if they’re VAT-registered), who when presented with the proof will refund you. However, with Brexit around the corner, this may change in the near future.

Hopefully, you’re now feeling confident about exporting your goods overseas! If you need further advice on services or pricing, then contact Andrews Shipping to find out more. We’ll get your items from the UK to their destination quickly and securely.