Brexit - FAQ's for UK based sellers

This article will provide guidance in relation to Brexit and the steps needed to ensure minimal disruption to selling Internationally.

Topics in this article:

First of all, there’s really no need for panic. Brexit doesn’t mean the end of International ecommerce. In fact, it may be just the beginning.

Are there steps required to ensuring the continuation of selling Internationally? Yes. Are they so problematic or time consuming to recommend discontinuing selling Internationally? Absolutely not.

Below we provide some basic FAQ's to make sure that your business is up to date and ready to flourish in the new post Brexit UK.

Which rules will change in relations to customs declarations?

From the 1st of January 2021, you'll need to make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU. 

You can make the declarations yourself, but most businesses use a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent.

The same customs and excise rules for goods moving between the UK and non-EU countries will apply to goods moving between the UK and EU countries.

Due to general standardization, most Custom declarations within the EU countries are the same, and require essential information such as what the goods are, who your Business is, how they are being shipped and who is responsible for the Customs etc.

You will need to supply a customs declaration that includes:

  • VAT number for the country where you’re storing the product
  • EORI number for the UK and any EU country you will be shipping goods to and from
  • Amended contracts and Incoterms to reflect that your business is now an exporter
  • Country of Origin information
  • HS Codes to determine the level of duty and import VAT on your products (Harmonized System (HS) values are used to classify products and help Customs identify what the product actually is via a provided code).
  • Licenses and certifications.
EORI stands for “Economic Operators Registration and Identification number”. From the 1st January 2021 businesses and people wishing to trade between the UK and the EU must use the EORI number.

For more information, follow UK government publications.

EORI numbers and how to apply

In addition to customs declarations, you'll also need to register an EU EORI number to be able to sell into the EU. For EU merchants, you will need to register a GB EORI number to sell into the UK.

Apply for an EORI number as soon as possible. The process to register an EORI number can proceed relatively quickly, however with the expected number of applications to be considerable, we recommend any application is made asap. To apply, click here.

If I have an EORI number, do I need to update or apply for a new one?

From 1 January 2021 you’ll need an EU registered EORI number. For those who currently sell internationally, you may already have a GB EORI which was used to move goods between Great Britain and other countries. This has changed and sellers will need to register with the EU to be able to continue selling from 1 Jan.

Information related to checking or applying for an EU EORI number is available here.

Are there organizations that can manage customs processes for my business?

The UK Government provide a checklist as to what support can be provided and under what circumstances here: Get someone to deal with customs for you

What will be required to ship into the EU other than a customs declaration?

If you currently sell outside of EU, you will almost certainly be aware of Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) which are standardized International arrangements for shipping products. This functions as contract between sellers and buyers and includes all aspects related to risks and costs associated with the transactions of products or goods. Shipping into the EU will require the use of Incoterms.

Before you ship Internationally, choose which Incoterm(s) you will use for which Countries and products. Incoterms need to provide the following:

  • Who is responsible for the shipping cost, insurance, import and customs costs of the shipment.
  • Who is responsible for the transport and where is the destination.
  • Allocate when the risk and costs of delivery transfer from seller to buyer.
    Customer Returns policy (currently EU law requires a 14 day returns guarantee for Buyers, once the UK leaves the EU however, it will be entirely up to you whether you offer such a guarantee or not)

What can I do to minimize the impact on shipping internationally?

  • Provide your carriers with complete and accurate data for customs clearance. Make sure your shipping platform is set up to handle customs data.
  • Do what you can to minimize the risk of customer parcels being held up at customs or returned to sender, e.g. your labeling and shipping systems should be able to capture and provide additional data like HS codes and commodity descriptions.

Will selling internationally from the UK still be worthwhile?

If you sell products that Buyers want to purchase, and offer the kind of Customer Experience that is in demand, 2021 is likely to continue to offer a robust International UK marketplace.

Even after the changes, the UK will still be a strong player in EU ecommerce, with UK sellers having the access to EU buyers as before.

There is huge opportunity for your store. For example:

  • The UK is a gateway to Europe and its strong international links will keep it in demand
  • The UK is the largest ecommerce market in Europe.
  • The United Kingdom (estimated 2018 GDP of $2.6 trillion) is a major international trading power, with the fifth-largest economy in the world according to the World Bank Group, the second-largest economy in the European Union.

Please be aware that the above content does not constitute legal advice and should be considered a summary of terms collated from available sources. Please also note that all applications related to Governmental and Customs requirements will need to be processed via the relevant authorities. All information related to Brexit and it's requirements should be obtained via

Please also checkout our great Blog article for additional info: Brexit impact on ecommerce: final countdown checklist for UK sellers

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