Keeping your international shipping moving

01 Jan 2022

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If international shipping is important for your business, you might be feeling a little uncertain about how the process has changed now the UK has left the EU. Oliver Burrows, MD of Maidstone logistics experts, Freight Finders Ltd explains how businesses will be affected and gives his advice on complying with the new rules.

There has recently been a lot of news around international shipping problems and shipments being held at border control. Leaving the EU has brought a few changes around business exports and the procedures needed to send goods to European countries. Keeping on top of these changes can help to keep your business running smoothly with no unexpected and time-consuming delays.

What are the recent changes to European shipping?
Recent changes now mean that any business sending goods to European countries are considered exporters and they must follow the importing country’s shipping rules. Don’t worry these changes may seem confusing at first, but this guide is designed to help make international shipping simple.

How will the changes affect my business?
If you haven’t prepared your shipments correctly and any documentation is missing, you could face long delays and your items not arriving on time to their final destination. You will also be liable to pay the correct amount of import tax associated with the country you are exporting to.

How can I prepare my business?
The below checklist can help you prepare your business and ensure you have all the correct information to hand.

  • Register for an EORI number (European union shipping only)
  • Complete the commercial invoice
  • Include proof of the origin of your goods
  • Assign Harmonised System (HS) Codes
  • Comply with import tax rules of the country you’re importing to
  • Appoint a customs declarant or IOR in the EU
  • Check if your goods are subject to border inspections
  • Consider requirements for return shipments

Have you obtained your EORI number?
To ship to European countries your business must hold a valid EORI number (Economic Operator’s Registration and Identification number). The great news is you only have to register once and the same number can be used when shipping to all European countries. Follow the link to find out more and to start the registration process. https://www.gov.uk/eori/apply-for-eori 

Are you familiar with HS codes?
HS Codes stands for Harmonized System Codes and refers to a globally used product naming system. These allow exporters to clearly describe the items they are shipping and the materials that they are manufactured from. Correctly determining your HS Codes is an essential part of the shipping process. Not only do they help to determine taxes, but they help your shipments to avoid any border control delays. To find out more about HS Codes and how to correctly assign them, head over to the government website - https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

Have you registered for VAT in the countries you are exporting to?
Unlike the EORI number, you must register for VAT in every country your business is exporting to. Goods being sent from the UK now have a 0% VAT rate, this means the rate is now determined by each country you are exporting to individually. It is also important to remember that VAT must be paid upon import unless the importer has a deferment licence.

What documentation do I need to include?
When it comes to making sure you have the correct documentation for your goods, there are a few which are vital for keeping your business’s shipping moving.

  • Commercial invoice – This is a key part of the shipping process and contains important information about your shipments. As a rule of thumb, the commercial invoice should contain sender details, the destination, the contents, HS Codes and the value of the items being sent. 
  • Proof of origins of your goods- When it comes to supplying proof of your item’s origins, there are several options you can choose from. Some of these include a statement of origin by the exporter, evidence of the importer’s knowledge about the product’s originating location, or a certificate of origins that can be supplied by the Chamber of Commerce.

Contact a shipping expert
Still, want a helping hand with your international shipping? Contacting a shipping expert can help save your business time and keep your exports moving.

From household furniture to electronics and even beverages Freight Finders are experienced in providing a range of national businesses with expert shipping advice. No matter what size your business may be, contact Freight Finders today for some friendly help and advice or to discuss how you can save time and money on your business shipping solutions.


All views expressed are those of the author.

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