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Will I be able to import and export globally after Brexit?

You will be able to import and export within and outside the EU after Brexit. You will need to operate under World Trade Organisation rules. There are some things you will need to remember to trade legally and successfully.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, or with a Free Trade Deal, the way in which you conducted trade with a country previously under an EU trade agreement will change. You will have to trade with that country under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

  • Exporting
  • Register your goods
  • Licences and certificates
  • Classifying your goods
  • Customs
  • Importing
  • Duty
  • Help and advice


If you’re continuing to trade with business in countries which are in the European Union, you will need to apply for an EORI number. If you don’t get one, you will face increased costs and delays because HMRC won’t be able to clear your goods and you may have to pay storage fees.

You can apply for an EORI number online.

Once you’ve done that, you need to find out whether you need a licence or a certificate to export your goods. You’ll also need to make sure that there aren’t any restrictions or other rules relating to the goods you wish to export in the destination country.

Brexit4Business’ Import/Export workshops can give you the tools to make sure you are working within the rules.

It’s important to be aware whether the UK has made a trade agreement with your destination country and how that may impact you.


Make sure that you register your business for exporting. That means getting your EORI number sorted and checking to see if you need to register for VAT. If you export regularly, you should consider applying for simplified declaration procedures and Authorised Economic Operators Status.

You can make a simplified declaration before you export your goods to the EU. This is called ‘presenting’ your goods to customs. It doesn’t need as much information as a full declaration so you can operate more quickly, but you will need to be registered to use the National Export System and be authorised by HMRC.

Authorised Economic Operators status (AEO) is a quality mark which demonstrates your place in the supply chain is secure and that your customs controls and procedures meet EU standards.

Licences & certificates

Depending on what you are exporting, there is a likelihood that you may need to apply for a licence. Animal, plant and agricultural products, medical devices, chemicals, drugs and waste, arts, firearms, ammunition and military goods will almost all require some kind of licence to export. There may also be different kinds of sanctions to consider. So, you should check the import rules of the countries that you are exporting to. Make sure you talk to your importer and get a good understanding of the market you’re exporting to.

Classifying your goods

You will need to obtain commodity codes for your goods to enable you to make customs declarations when you import or export them. This classification will tell you what rate of duty and import VAT you will need to pay.


You will need to appoint someone to make customs declarations and transport your goods. Once you have done that, and had your goods cleared by UK customs you may need other documents to get you goods into the destination country. Ask the person or business buying your products what you need to provide.


In a similar way to exporting, you will need to get an EORI number and know the commodity codes of your goods. These will tell you if you need a licence and how much duty you may have to pay. You’ll also have to declare the goods – either by yourself or using a customs broker or freight forwarder. Because importing is a complex process, it’s a good idea to get an experienced importer to do it for you.


Normally, there is duty payable at the port of entry on goods imported from non-EU countries. You have to pay this to Customs before the goods leave. You may be able to claim back duty (in special circumstances) and VAT. If you are moving the goods elsewhere in the EU, you may be able to import goods from other countries without paying duty as long as they stay in a customs warehouse. Duty will only be paid once the goods are in free circulation elsewhere in the EU.

You’ll have to pay VAT directly to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at UK rates on goods imported from outside the EU when they’re first brought into the EU, before they leave customs.

You can work out the VAT-able cost of the goods you have imported by including the costs of importing the goods including commission, packing, transport and insurance and any duties or levies payable on importation into the UK.

Help and advice

We want to help you in continuing your import and export businesses even after a no deal Brexit. Sign up to our free to access advisory sessions, 1-1 training and specialist workshops.