Get your products ready to export

Last updated: 3 March 2017

When getting your products ready to export, you'll need to know about:

Shipping goods

There are different rules to follow if you're shipping goods in the:

If you're transporting dangerous goods there are extra rules you need to follow.

When you transport goods by road internationally, you must use a CMR note. This is a contract between you and the carrier.

Incoterms (International Commercial Terms)

International Commercial Terms ('Incoterms') are internationally recognised standard trade terms used in sales contracts. Incoterms apply to both national and international sales.

They're used to make sure buyer and seller know:

  • who is responsible for the cost of transporting the goods, including insurance, taxes and duties
  • where the goods should be picked up from and transported to
  • who is responsible for the goods at each step during transportation
You need a clear written contract to minimise the risk of misunderstandings.

The current set of Incoterms is Incoterms 2010. Find a copy of the full terms on the International Chamber of Commerce website.

Find out more about 'Incoterms' on the GOV.UK website.

Selling services

If you're selling services (non physical goods) you can't use Incoterms.

You need to formalise your sales contract another way and protect your intellectual property.

Finding commodity codes

You must have a commodity code for all goods you want to import or export to and from the UK.

This code enables you to check any regulations that may apply and any licences that are needed in the receiving country. It's also used to calculate customs duties and tax that may be due.

Use the online Trade Tariff to search for commodity codes.

You can also get help with classifying goods and classification guides on the GOV.UK website.

It's your responsibility to get your commodity code and licences right, even if you use a freight forwarder, a courier or an agent.

Importing and exporting food

You'll have to research the food safety regulations in the countries you choose to export food to. Regulations can be different to those in the UK.

You can find information about the country you want to export to from:

Most food and drink products imported from the EU have no restrictions.

Most regulations are for food and drink that are imported from countries outside the EU. In this case you may need:

  • health certificates
  • import licences
You must follow general export regulations.

Find out more about what you need to do for:

Labelling and handling food for international transport

If your business is involved with shipping food, you must follow regulations for labelling, packaging and food safety in the destination country. There are different rules for:

  • moving food within the EU
  • imports from outside the EU
  • exports outside the EU

The GOV.UK website has information on what you need to do.