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Import Export Hub


Exporting goods outside of the UK 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.

Contents of this page

What must Departments do prior to export?

Exporting has become more complex. We recommend that you contact the Hub for support.

  • Appoint a customs/export agent - 90% of the University’s imports & exports are handled by fast parcel operators. Sometimes more specialised transport is required.
  • Determine the Commodity Code - this is the relevant tariff classification for the goods (also called an HS code). This is crucial and will impact on the steps below.
  • Agree Incoterms® - be clear about the contractual terms for delivery / sale and who is responsible for clearing the goods through customs in the overseas country, paying any taxes and other costs / risks such as insurance & freight.
  • Value - establish the value for customs purposes - there is no 'nil' value
  • Temporary export? - is this a permanent export or temporary movement of goods? Consider if any reliefs are available for re-import before exporting the goods.
  • Check licensing / regulatory requirements – the commodity code will help to inform if an export licence or Export Health Certificate is required for controlled goods. Consider if any sanctions apply. Will your customer or you need to consider import licenses and controls at the other side?
  • Customs Duty – 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 and the goods qualify as ‘originating’ in the UK.

University EORI / VAT number

University's VAT registration:

University's EORI number:

GB 823 8476 09


Providing a customs/commercial invoice?

If you are moving goods abroad (whether for free or as a sale) you are likely to be required to provide a "Customs Invoice", also known as a commercial or shipping invoice, to accompany the goods. You can use the commercial invoice template, but you should convert it to a PDF before sending to external entities. can help you to complete this.

Can I zero-rate an export of goods?

If we export goods to a customer or move goods ourselves outside the UK our supply can be zero-rated only 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)
  • customs/commercial/shipping invoice

Zero-rating requires the goods to physically be exported and evidence of export obtained within 3 months of the time of supply (typically, the invoice date).

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.

Other university activities where VAT / duty may be charged

Moving own goods
For example, where a piece of high value equipment is moved to another 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.

See Temporary movements of goods into and out of the the UK

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.

See Goods in baggage

Chain transactions
For example, where the goods are purchased by the University from one country and delivered directly to another country (sometimes for processing) before being sent to the UK. EU 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.

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

See Temporary movements of goods into and out of the the UK

University owned laptops & mobile phones

Normal import and export rules will apply to University owned laptops and mobile phones that are taken overseas. See goods in baggage.

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 tax code 'RG - Goods to ROW' should be used. 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.

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.

Importing goods into a country other than the United Kingdom

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 can be complex and the rules and procedures vary from country to country.

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.

Where can I get more information?

University VAT Team
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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