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Exporting goods to the EU has become more complex. It may take more time and cost more to complete the required export declarations and we recommend that a customs/export agent is used. Exports to countries outside the EU have not changed and you may still require an customs/export agent.

From 1 January 2021, the EU/UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) means that duty-free exports are not automatic. Goods can be exported to the EU with zero tariffs (i.e. Customs duties) only if the goods originate in the UK.  In order to move goods and for our EU customer / recipient to benefit from 0% duty, the University (as the exporter) will need to complete export declarations in advance of the goods being shipped.

Contents of this page

- Key actions for Departments prior to export
- What will my carrier / export agent need?
- Evidence of export and VAT
- Goods moving to and from Northern Ireland
- Importing goods into a country other than the Great Britan
- Low value items and items sent via the post to the EU
- Other situations where export declarations and VAT/duty may be due
- How do I process these transactions on CUFS?
- Where to get more information

Last updated : 14 Jan 21

Key actions for Departments prior to export

  • Appoint a customs/export agent

  • Determine the tariff classification – this is the relevant Commodity Code for the goods (also called an HS code).This is crucial and will inform next steps.

  • Check Rules of Origin - determine whether the goods qualify as ‘originating’ in the UK.
  • Provide proof – Your customer may ask you to provide a Supplier’s statement of origin, if they wish to claim preferential duty rates (0%) under the EU/UK trade deal.
  • Check licensing / regulatory certificates–will an export licence or Export Health Certificate be required for controlled goods.  Will your customer need to consider import licenses and controls?

  • Agree INCOTERMS- be clear about the contractual terms for the sale and the responsibilities for moving the goods. Where possible, University Standard Terms & Conditions of Sale should be used making the customer responsible for importing and the payment of any Import VAT or duties.

What will my carrier / export agent need?

  • The University’s VAT registration number: GB 823 8476 09

  • The University’s EORI number:  GB823847609000

  • The completed invoice and any licenses or certificates, as these must travel with the goods.

  • The Commodity Code for the goods (also called an HS code)

  • The origin of the goods – using Rules of Origin

  • The Supplier’s statement of origin, if your customer is proposing to claim preferential duty rates (0%) under the EU/UK trade deal.

  • The INCOTERMS that will apply

  • If the customer can claim any duty or VAT relief they will need to provide you/ the agent with relevant certificates /details so that the agent can use the correct Customs Procedure Code.


Documentation for Exporting and moving goods abroad
If you are moving goods abroad (whether for free or as a sale ) you may be required to provide a "Customs Invoice" to accompany the goods. If this is the case please contact who will provide you with a template and further assistance.


Evidence of export and VAT

All sales of goods to businesses and individuals in the EU will be treated in the same way as those to the rest of the world, from a VAT perspective. If we export goods to a customer outside the UK our supply is zero-rated if we retain proof of export.

Therefore, once the goods have been exported, it is important that you obtain evidence from the agent and/or supplier. This may include the following and should be retained for 6 years:

  • airway bill/bill of lading
  • delivery note
  • proof of origin
  • C88 (official Customs evidence)
  • commercial invoice
Sales of goods to individuals in the EU may create VAT obligations in those countries.  Where these are not sold via the University’s online store please advise the University Tax Team of such sales so that they can monitor the position.

Movement of goods to Northern Ireland

There are different rules regarding goods being moved into Northern Ireland and for goods moving between GB (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Please contact the University Tax Team.


Importing goods into a country other than the Great Britain

If the University is responsible for importing goods into a country other than the UK (whether as sales to third parties or moving its own goods as part of a research project), it is essential that you seek advice before the goods are moved from the University's Tax Team at

It is possible you will create an overseas tax liability and reporting obligations, for which specialist advice needs to be obtained on a case-by-case basis. The process of importing goods into any country is complex and the rules and procedures vary from country to country.


Low value items and those sent by post to the EU

Export declarations will also be needed. If sent by post see: sending goods by post.

Until 1 July 2021, items valued at under €22/£15 will remain part of the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) Scheme and are not subject to VAT or duties. Commercial goods over €22 (£15) and below €150 (£135) may be subject to import VAT at the border and may incur a customs clearance/handling fee in the receiving country. Goods over €150 (£135) may attract VAT, customs duties and a clearance/handling fee.

From 1 July 2021, new EU rules are being introduced and the EUR22/£15 limit will be abolished.  Further guidance will follow.


Other situations where export declarations and VAT/duty may be due

Chain transactions
For example, where the goods are purchased by the University from one EU country and delivered directly to another EU country (sometimes for processing) before being sent to the UK. Simplifications that used to be available to ease the tax compliance in chain transactions are no longer applicable. Please seek advice before the goods are moved.
Moving own goods 
For example, where a piece of high value equipment is moved to another EU country to be used for a research collaboration (free of charge) and is then returned to the UK sometime later. This is still an export, despite there being no sale. There may be duty/VAT due on the return import. It may be possible to claim reliefs but this is not always practical. Please seek advice before the goods are moved.
Goods in baggage
For example, where a University employee takes some items in their suitcase/hand luggage to deliver to a project. These goods may need to be declared.

Export followed by re-import or vice-versa (eg processing or repair of goods)
Reliefs are available but conditions typically need to be met. Please seek advice before the goods are moved.

How do I process the transactions on CUFS?

The sales invoice to the customer for the goods should be raised in the normal way in Accounts Receivable. The customer’s VAT number no longer needs to be quoted on the sales invoice and the the tax code  'RG - Goods to ROW' used (see the Finance Division’s guidance.) 

Depending on the agent’s role, the agent’s invoice may contain a number of charges. When processing in Accounts Payable where VAT has not been charged on these fees please use the tax code NO UK VAT.

Where can I get more information?

University VAT Team

University's Finance Brexit Transition Guidelines

The Government’s Brexit imports and exports helpline

Tel: 0300 3229434
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

There is also guidance available on the GOV.UK website


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