Licences and enforcement for international trading

Check if you need a permit or certificate

Will you need extra paperwork for your goods, over and above the usual commercial and licensing documentation? Requirements for a permit or certificate will depend on:

  • the type of product
  • your product's commodity code
  • where your product originated from
  • whether you're exporting or importing
  • your product's final destination

Your trade association may be able to advise on export controls applying to your products.

Using classification to find licences

When you import, identify the commodity code for your goods to find out if you need a licence. You can do this using the UK Integrated Tariff. A full list of commodity codes is available in volume 2. Read more about classifying goods and how to do it.

You can also use the UK Integrated Tariff to check if you need a permit. You can:

  • Check your product's code in the UK Integrated Tariff, and look up the rules associated with it.
  • Check the rules regarding the origin of your products - rules of origin.
  • Check the rules that vary according to whether you are importing or exporting the product, and its final destination.

Read an introduction to the Tariff.

Access the UK Trade Tariff.

You must also check with the relevant government department.

Declarations and licences

Using a Single Administrative Document (SAD), most exports to outside the European Union (EU) must be declared to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. You can do this electronically using the National Export System. See UK's import and export processing system CHIEF.

You can use the SAD, also known as form C88, to make export declarations manually. Customs will then enter these goods to the CHIEF system on your behalf. Manual entry will delay the movement of your goods from the UK.

However, the SAD is an export declaration, not a licence to export goods. If your goods need a licence, you must obtain one separately before the goods are due to leave the UK or EU.

Goods that are of no statistical interest or not restricted can be exported without a declaration. Included in this are:

  • accompanied personal or household goods
  • certain goods not subject to a commercial transaction
  • certain temporary exportation or re-exportation goods

Read more about declarations and the Single Administrative Document.

You do not usually have to complete an export declaration for goods acquired or dispatched within the EU. There are exceptions, such as sales to international organisations which are treated as exports, and exports to special EU territories.