Trading in the European Union

Preparing to trade with the EU

You need to make sure you're fully prepared before beginning to trade with other European Union (EU) countries. You're unlikely to have the same background knowledge of markets, cultures and procedures elsewhere in Europe as you do in the UK - but the more groundwork you do, the less likely it is that you'll be surprised by anything.

Important: Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, there will be immediate changes to the procedures that apply to businesses trading with the EU. It would mean that the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease.

Read the latest UK government guidance on trading with the EU if there’s no Brexit deal.

If you're buying, you should conduct research to locate suppliers and assess their quality, reliability and capacity to deliver overseas. Read more about how to manage overseas suppliers.

If you're selling, it's vital to have a well worked-out plan. You need to be sure that you have the necessary resources to move into an overseas market, as well as the logistical support in place to move your goods between countries.

Export sales plan

Draw up a sales plan. It should cover:

  • Your target market - is there a demand for your goods at a viable price?
  • Your products or services - do you need to modify them? For example, do you need to adapt them for language differences?
  • Marketing - how will you market your products? Don't assume they'll occupy the same market position as in the UK.
  • Finance - have you got finance in place to cover the costs of trading?
  • Distribution - how will you deliver your goods to your overseas customers?
  • Pricing - what prices will you charge, which currencies and which payment methods will you accept?
  • Contacts - what contacts do you need to make in your new market?

For more information about starting to sell your goods or services overseas, see exporting - an overview.

Export help and advice is available from the Department for International Trade. You can also find out about the Invest NI support available to exporters.