Four key freedoms of the European Union (EU) benefit traders in all 28 member states. These are the free movement of goods, capital, services and persons.
In practical terms, this means that most shipments can be dispatched to other member states of the EU without special customs documentation. There are exceptions, eg sales to international organisations, which are treated as exports, and exports to special EU territories. For more information, read a basic guide to trading abroad on the HMRC website.
The main exclusions to this are goods subject to export licensing controls, eg military goods or Class A drugs, and goods classed as excise products, eg alcohol, tobacco and hydrocarbon oils.
The EU member states are:
- Czech Republic
- The Republic of Ireland
- The Netherlands
*The European Commission has advised that the application of the 6th VAT Directive (Directive 77/388/EEC of 17 May 1977) shall be suspended in those areas of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control. Goods to these destinations continue to be eligible for zero-rating as exports.
Goods in movement within the EU are termed as being dispatched upon leaving the state of origin of the goods, and as arrivals when entering the member state acquiring them. The use of these terms distinguishes single market trade from international trade with third countries - ie countries outside the EU, where the terms import and export apply.