As an international seller, you must comply with local laws when selling across borders and you should research this aspect thoroughly. Below you'll find some tips in terms of important areas you might want to consider.

Duties and taxes

Inside the European Union
There are currently no customs or duty charges if you sell goods from the UK to elsewhere within the EU. Following the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, the agreements which govern the trade of goods and services between the UK and the EU could potentially change. Businesses conducting cross-border trade between the EU and UK will likely wish to review their export and import strategies in light of any changes. It may be a considerable amount of time before the necessary details emerge. This section of PassPort will be updated once clarity is achieved on how the trade agreements will definitively change.

Outside the European Union
Duties may be charged to the buyer on certain items and vary by country. Before selling and shipping internationally, confirm if your products will be subject to duty charges in the markets you’re selling to.

Many international shipping carriers offer the option to pay duties before an item is shipped, which is often referred to as Delivery Duty Paid (DDP), or your customers can defer duty payment until the item is received in-country, often referred to as Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU). Always make sure your customers are aware that additional duties charges may apply and that it’s their responsibility to pay these fees before they can collect their goods.

The rules regarding VAT depend on your total sales into any particular country and whether your customer is also VAT registered. You can check what rules apply to your business here.

Customs and regulations

All shipments must clear customs - the agency that regulates shipments entering a country or region. To help customs officials understand the contents, value and purpose of your shipment, you must attach customs forms to the outside of your package so they can be examined easily.

Many countries use the international harmonised system to identify and classify import goods. The harmonised system is managed by the World Customs Organisation and provides a uniform method for customs authorities to apply duties. As a first step in understanding what duties or customs fees may apply for your goods, you should identify the harmonised code for your products.

Free Trade Agreements

The European Union has free trade agreements (FTAs) in place with many countries around the world. The UK also has its own bilateral free trade agreements with trading partners (such as Commonwealth countries). For an international seller, these free-trade agreements can help reduce or eliminate tariffs for specific categories of products. For instance, a country that normally charges a 5% tariff on the value of an imported product will eliminate that tariff for products that originate (as defined in the FTA) in the UK.*

Additional Resources

For more customs information, including how to find your harmonised code, visit these helpful sites:

  • Starting to Export: Find information on export procedures and regulations
  • Royal Mail: Find information on important customs forms
  • World Customs Organisation: Find more information about customs regulations around the world
  • Market Access Database: Information on exporting to countries outside the EU
  • Shipping Calculator: The Borderlinx Shipping Calculator helps you estimate the total cost of sending your parcels globally – including shipping rates, customs, taxes, and duties

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