How to Export Goods From the EU to the UK and Import Them There

How to Export Goods From the EU to the UK

Martijn Rijk

06/01/2021

Martijn Rijk
Marketing Manager

As of January 1st of 2021, the United Kingdom has left the European Union and is now a third country. This means that it is no longer possible to ship goods from the European Union to the United Kingdom with just a CMR.

How to Export Goods From the EU to the UK

If you want to transport goods from the European Union to the United Kingdom you now need to export them. For this, you need to have a European Union EORI number. An EORI number is a registration and identification number for businesses that want to import goods into or export out of the European Union. In our article, you can find more information on what an EORI number is. If you don’t have an EORI number and want to get one, please see this list with contact details and information of Customs Authorities of the EU member states and a short description on how to get an EORI number.


To export goods to the United Kingdom from the European Union you or your customs agent need to create export documentation. Once you have submitted all the necessary information to the Customs Authority, the Customs Authority then approves the export (a physical check of the shipment may be requested) and sends an export document back. On that document is the Movement Reference Number (MRN) for that shipment. This whole process takes place in dedicated customs software.

The MRN is a unique customs registration number that enables the Customs Authority to identify and process your shipment in the customs system. It is the primary reference for customs declarations and the most important link with your goods. The Customs Authority in the United Kingdom will also use this MRN number to identify your shipment. Find more information in our article on Movement Reference Numbers.

What About Value Added Tax (VAT)?

If you export goods to a third country from the European Union, you don’t have to pay VAT and you can use a 0% VAT tariff. When the Tax Authority checks your books later, you will need to be able to prove that the goods you exported actually left the European Union. If you requested the export documentation yourself or had a customs partner do that for you, you (or your customs partner) will have received a Confirmation of Exit from the Customs Authority once the shipment left the European Union. This confirmation of exit is the proof that you need.

A warning for EU companies selling to UK companies under the Ex Works incoterm: if you sell ex works the buyer will create the export documentation and the buyer will also receive the confirmation of exit. You need to make arrangements to receive a copy of this confirmation of exit. If you don’t have a copy you will not be able to prove the shipment left the EU, and you will have to pay VAT if you are audited by the Tax Authority. Instead of Ex Works, we advise you to use Free Carrier (FCA). Under FCA terms you are responsible for loading the shipment and arranging the export documentation. That means you will also be the recipient of the Confirmation of Exit.

What if I Want to Customs Clear the Goods at Final Destination Instead of on Arrival at the Port?

It is possible to postpone customs clearing the goods until they arrive at their final destination in the United Kingdom, instead of clearing them immediately on arrival at the port of destination. In that case you need a transit document. After applying for the export documents you can apply for a transit document, which is called a T2. This T2 transit document will allow you to postpone clearing the goods until they have been delivered at their final destination. There will be no unnecessary waiting time at the port and the payment of import duties and other tariffs are postponed until the goods have been delivered as well. Our Customs Transit Consultancy can assist you with transit documents and related matters.

What if I Want to Import the Goods into the United Kingdom Myself?

If you want to import the goods into the United Kingdom you will need a UK EORI number. If you don’t have one you can request one here. Be advised your company needs to be registered in the United Kingdom to get an EORI number. You can create the import document, or have your customs partner in the UK do that for you and import the goods once they have arrived.

Take the Load Off Your Mind

If you have any questions on exporting or importing to or from the United Kingdom or the European Union, or you need support, please contact one of our experts. They are happy to help take the load off your mind.