Exports and imports between the UK and the EU were for a long time incredibly straightforward. When the UK was inside the single market and customs union, there were no tariffs, quotas, or customs duties applied to goods traded between the UK and the rest of the EU. This created a smooth trade environment, allowing businesses to move goods freely and efficiently.

The absence of barriers also helped to facilitate trade and encourage the growth of cross-border commerce. In this blog, we look at how Brexit has changed the requirements and what you need to be conscious of when exporting in 2023 and beyond.

What has changed?

With the UK’s departure from the EU due to Brexit, the trading relationship between the two has altered and exports and imports are no longer as straightforward. The introduction of tariffs, quotas, customs duties, and border checks has increased the complexity and cost of trade and has created a number of challenges for businesses operating in the UK and exporting to the EU.

The new documentation requirements can be confusing, and snags and complications have been extensively documented. Walter Van Der Meiren, brokerage division manager at UPS – the American multinational shipping, receiving and supply chain management company – states “it’s added complexity on what used to be a very easy, free movement of goods.”

What you need to know – Key documentation

In the below infographic, we present the five key pieces of documentation required when exporting from the UK:

  1. Commercial Invoice: Provides a detailed description of the goods being exported, the value of the goods, and the terms of sale.
  2. Bill of Lading: Serves as a receipt for the goods being shipped and acts as proof of ownership.
  3. Certificate of Origin: Confirms the origin of the goods being exported and is required for customs purposes.
  4. Export Declaration: Required for all exports from the UK to the EU and provides information about the goods being exported, the value of the goods, and the intended destination.
  5. Customs Declaration: Necessary for all exports to the EU and provides information about the goods being exported, including their classification and value.

Be aware of country-specific requirements

José Nava, CEO of the world’s leading logistics company DHL believes that “With the challenges of Brexit, customers are keen to make their supply chains more resilient to potential barriers in global trade lanes.”

It’s important to note that the specific requirements may vary depending on the type of goods being exported, the country of destination, and the terms of the trade agreement between the UK and the EU. It’s recommended to check with the relevant authorities and consult with a customs broker or freight forwarder for the most up-to-date information.

Repercussions of not having the right documentation

In the absence of the required documentation for exporting, your shipment may be delayed or even rejected at the border.

Without the proper paperwork, customs officials will struggle to properly assess the value, origin, and classification of the goods, which could result in the goods being held up at the border. This could lead to significant delays and additional costs, as well as possibly needing to pay fines or tariffs. In some cases, the goods may be seized and not allowed to enter the country, which would result in complete loss of the shipment.

As a translation services provider assisting exporters, we recognise how important it is to ensure that all required documentation is in order before exporting goods. This helps to avoid any potential delays or issues at the border and ensures that the shipment is processed smoothly and efficiently. If you would like to learn more, contact a member of our team.