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How To Start Shipping From The UK To Europe After Brexit

Everything’s changed, maybe your logistics company should too...

Let’s turn back the clock to before the UK left the EU. Back then, shipping your goods to Antwerp was just the same as sending them to Manchester. With the exception of a short ferry crossing in-between.

Now, after Brexit, things are looking different. It’s no surprise that so many businesses are asking how to ship goods from the UK to Europe. The landscape has changed.

It’s more complex. But that doesn’t mean it’s less important.

Shipping to continental Europe opens up so many new doors for your business, from new clients and customers to potential partners and collaborators.

Here’s how to ship to Europe, whilst keeping your sanity 100% intact.

Before you begin: understand the zero-tariffs post-Brexit deal

When the UK left the EU, the UK Government signed a tariff-free deal. This was designed to allow UK companies to continue exporting to the common market without facing additional fees or tariffs.

But you might have seen news stories citing the £3.5 billion of taxes facing UK exporters in early 2021. That’s because the process isn’t so straightforward. Whilst the deal allows exporters to enjoy zero-tariff trades, it’s not automatic.

Instead, it needs to be claimed on your customs declaration. A process that requires a healthy dose of bureaucracy and paperwork. This is something we consult our UK export clients about on a daily basis.

Read on for an overview of the UK to Europe export process.

Step 1: Agree on your terms of trade and get to grips with Incoterms®

Before you start shipping from the UK to Europe, you’re going to need to agree to your terms of trade with your European counterparts, or the customers that you’re shipping to.

Incoterms® are designed to keep international traders on the same page when it comes to trade agreements, thanks to internationally recognised terms and processes that are clear to all parties involved.

The 11 individual Incoterms® were issued by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to clearly define the responsibilities of importers and exporters. It’s a good idea to get to grips with Incoterms® so that you understand each acronym ahead of time.

Step 2: Register for your EORI number

To export goods to the UK, you’ll need an EORI number. This stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification number and acts as a common identifier for all organisations trading inside the EU. In simple terms, it puts everyone into the same system.

You can register for an EORI number on the UK Government website. The EORI number will be required later, for your customs declaration.

Step 3: Choose your logistics provider

If you’re not shipping your goods to Europe yourself, you’re going to need to choose a transport provider to manage this for you.

We might be a little bit biased, but not all transport providers are created equal! Each transport provider will have its own approach and different benefits that come alongside its services.

Look for a transport provider that offers shipping consultations alongside its transport services. This will be especially helpful if you’re new to European shipping and are struggling with the paperwork and preparation required.

Here at Linkline, we guide you through the European export process. You’ll be connected with a network of pre-established customs representatives in your end ports. Your paperwork is reviewed (and even completed alongside you, if needed) so that you’re fully prepared for your customs clearance. And you’ll receive guidance and advice on best practices for European shipping.

Step 4: Classify your goods

Before you can complete your customs declaration, you’re going to need to classify your goods. This is required by customs authorities to ensure that the right duties are being paid.

The UK Government website has a Trade Tariff tool to help you classify your goods, or your logistics provider will be able to take care of this for you as part of the preparation process.

Step 5: Prepare your customs declarations

Before your goods can leave the UK, you’ll need to have your paperwork in order. As well as having a customs agent in both the UK and your destination country in Europe, you’ll need the right documentation to see your goods through.

Your logistics provider should be able to help you with this. It’s likely that you’ll need:

  • Completed invoices for your goods
  • Proof of origin for the goods
  • Any export licenses or certifications that are required to transport the goods
  • Fully prepared customs declaration
  • Any additional documentation required by the destination country (your logistics provider or the customs agent in the end port should be able to advise on this)

Step 6: Prepare to be adaptable

When it comes to shipping from the UK to Europe, you’re going to need to be adaptable as you prepare to enter a market that is now finally settling down after the post-Brexit transition.

Try to speak to a range of logistics providers to find an option that’ll best suit your business and your needs. And remember, ask them how agile they are. In the European market, flexibility is key.

Now you’re ready to start shipping from the UK to Europe

Book your European shipping consultation

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