Basics of exporting

Legal responsibilities as an exporter


You'll need to familiarise yourself with the VAT rules administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

In most cases, exports will be zero-rated for VAT although there are exceptions. Check with the HMRC VAT Helpline on Tel 0300 200 3700 to find out what applies to you.

Details of any exports you make must be entered on your VAT return. If you have a high level of exports to European Union (EU) member states, you may have to submit more detailed declarations in an Intrastat return. Intrastat thresholds are reviewed annually. The current thresholds are £500,000 for Arrivals and £250,000 for Dispatches.

Read an introduction to Intrastat.

For exports outside the EU you must report sales to HMRC electronically using the National Export System (NES) or using the single administrative document (SAD).

Read more about VAT rules.

Authorised Economic Operator status is not compulsory although companies that meet the requirements can take advantage of simplified customs procedures.

Security laws mean that you must declare your goods leaving the EU. If you supply normal export declarations such as the SAD, you will be covered, but if you're not declaring them in the usual way, you must complete an Exit Summary Declaration.

Export controls

Certain goods may only be exported following the issue of an export licence. Examples of goods subject to licensing control include fine art, firearms and chemicals.

Understanding the law

As soon as your goods enter another country they become subject to that country's laws.

Read Country guides: exporting to the EU and Country guides: exporting to GB and outside the EU.

You can also find out about the Invest NI support for selling outside Northern Ireland.