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Exporting Goods


The UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union on the 31st December 2020. As a result, there will be changes in how goods are moved out of the UK to the EU. The new rules will reflect how exports are currently dealt with, between the UK and non-EU countries.

Until 31/12/20 - an export takes place when the University arranges for physical goods to be sent outside of the EU, regardless of whether they are sold or not.

From 01/01/21 – any goods sold/moved from the UK to the EU, will also be classed as exports.

The export of physical goods must be declared to HM Revenue and Customs correctly to clear the goods.

If goods are sold to an overseas customer, the conditions for VAT zero rating must be met or the University could be assessed for VAT on the value of the sale.


  • This guidance will enable you to gather the information required to deal with the majority of straightforward exports and to recognise when the export is more complex and you may need further assistance.
  • Steps 1 - 5 must be carried out in advance of the export taking place.


1. Determine the value of the goods to be exported

Usually the price paid by the customer including any shipping and insurance they are due to pay us.  If there is no sale, including loaning of university goods and sending samples, this is the price which the goods would fetch if sold to a purchaser abroad.

2. Obtain the commodity code from the UK Trade Tariff

Every type of item has a code number.  Check the UK Trade Tariff here

If unsure, email the Tariff Classification Service

3. Consider whether export controls apply

Export licences are needed for the export of certain military and paramilitary goods, and for dual use goods and technology.  For further information about how to check and apply for a licence, see Export Controls (Directorate of Compliance and Risk).

Artworks, plants and animals and medicines might need export licences under different legislation.  If unsure, email the University’s Export Controls Compliance Officer.

4. Appoint a freight forwarder to deliver the goods.

A freight forwarder is a company that receives and ships goods on behalf of other companies, for example DHL or Fedex.

5. Complete the Export Notification Form with the details above and send a copy to freight forwarder

Link to Export Notification form.

Email a copy of the notification to

The freight forwarder will submit the export declaration to HMRC on the University’s behalf.

6. If selling the goods, ensure that conditions for VAT zero rating are met

VAT zero rating conditions:

  • Goods must be sold to a customer based outside the EU (from 01/01/21, the sale must be made to a customer outside the UK).
  • The University must arrange delivery directly to the customers address.
  • The goods are exported within 3 months of the time of supply, which is earlier of the date of:
    • When the goods are sent to the customer; or
    • Full payment is received
  • Evidence of export is obtained within 3 months of export

7. Obtain primary and supplementary export evidence from freight forwarder and retain for 6 years

As a minimum, obtain one piece of primary evidence and as much other evidence as possible. Email confirmed export details to

Primary evidence

  • Official evidence produced by customs systems e.g. C88, Goods Departed Messages; or
  • Commercial transport evidence including air or sea waybills, bills of lading

Supplementary evidence

E.g. Commercial invoice, packing list, consignment note, freight charges documentation, evidence of receipt abroad; should be retained.

8. Special scenarios

Please contact the Finance Helpdesk if you are:

  • Temporarily exporting goods that will be re-imported back to the UK
  • Temporarily importing into the UK goods that will be re-exported
  • Exporting the University’s own goods for repair or processing, that will be re-imported once again
  • Importing goods that will processed or repaired before being re-exported again
  • Allowing goods for export to be collected by the customer in the UK