International trade regulations in the Automotive sector

Key importing and exporting requirements and the automotive sector

This page brings together key requirements to help automotive businesses cost-effectively and efficiently move goods between the UK, the European Union (EU), and/or third countries.

The common customs tariff in force across all EU countries is the single most important document when importing and/or exporting. You will need to refer to it to classify goods for import to or export from the EU.

For details on how to use it, see our section on using the UK Trade Tariff. Access the UK Trade Tariff on the website.

Other key topics relevant to businesses in the automotive and related sectors are:

  • Economic Operator Registration and Identification Scheme (EORI) - you must have an EORI number if you are required to provide pre-arrival/pre-departure information for goods, or are involved in the import, export or movement of goods under a transit procedure. See our guide on the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Scheme.
  • Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) - an AEO certificate is likely to be particularly relevant to this sector as it is an internationally recognised quality mark that proves your role in the international supply chain is secure and that your customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant. You must have an EORI number in order to make an AEO application. See our guide on Authorised Economic Operators.
  • VAT, excise and duty in international trade - getting these requirements right will save you time and prevent delays in releasing your goods.
  • Customs handling of freight through the CHIEF system - CHIEF, the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system electronically records the movement of goods by land, sea and air. If you're not yet using the system, find out how to register and use CHIEF in our guide on UK's import and export processing system CHIEF.
  • Declarations and the Single Administrative Document (SAD) - you or your agent must use SAD or form C88 as it is known in the UK to declare imports, exports and transit and community status declarations on trade with third countries. You should use it to enter goods to and remove them from customs procedures. While it's not necessary for trade within the EU single market, you will need it to move non-EU goods in the EU. See our guide on declarations and the Single Administrative Document.

Intrastat, Supplementary Declarations and European Sales Lists (ESLs)

VAT-registered businesses that trade in goods with other EU member states are required to provide details of their transactions for use in collating EU trade statistics.

Intrastat is the system used to collect these statistics.

In addition to showing the total value of goods you dispatch to other EU member states in your VAT return, you must also submit monthly supplementary declarations (SDs) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you trade in goods with other EU countries above annually-set Intrastat exemption thresholds.

VAT-registered businesses that supply goods or services to other VAT-registered businesses in the EU must also provide details of these transactions at prescribed intervals for use in the ESL.

For the detail on all the above requirements, see our section on Intrastat returns.