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Fewer than 10% of UK businesses currently export despite exporting offering a wide range of opportunities for businesses to grow and develop. Companies that can trade internationally can become more innovative and productive, with exporting becoming a significant driver of growth.

The process can be confusing, but the rewards are considerable. Would-be exporters frequently have a number of questions they would like answered to help them calculate whether or not exporting is beneficial. One of these concerns is the question of duties.

While the import duties charged by customs in the destination country will differ, are there any UK levies such as VAT charged when the goods leave the country?

Do you pay VAT on goods you export?

If you are exporting goods out of the UK and are based in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) then you do not need to apply VAT to your goods when they are exported. If your business is based in Northern Ireland, you will still need to apply VAT to your exported goods if they are being shipped to an EU country. This is because Northern Ireland remains in the EU’s single market for goods.

The sale can be zero-rated for VAT as long as you keep evidence of the export. The exporter will also need to comply with any other conditions. You will need to ensure that the goods have been exported, and evidence must be gained within 3 months from the time of sale.

The National Export System (NES) allows you to send export documentation to HMRC electronically. This can make the exporting process easier to navigate as well as quicker.

Due to the complexities and the costly consequences of any mistakes, most exporters will choose to work with an international forwarding company to ensure a hitch-free exportation process.

Should I charge VAT on goods exported to the EU?

If you are selling, sending or transferring goods out of the UK you will not normally need to charge VAT on them.

Exports can be zero-rated from Great Britain to any destination outside of the UK. If, however, you are a UK business shipping goods from Northern Ireland you will need to charge VAT for goods shipped out of the UK into the EU.

How SSO International Forwarding can help

SSO International Forwarding provides a comprehensive range of export services to help you negotiate customs and successfully trade across borders. We take the complexities out of the process, allowing you to concentrate on your core business.

To find out more about the comprehensive export services from SSO International Forwarding, contact us today or call +44 01744 410178 or email

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