Exporting provides great opportunities, but aspects of it can be complicated. If you’re not careful you can find yourself in deeper water than you’d anticipated. Export requirements and regulations can seem confusing, but the burden is on you, the exporter, to follow the rules.
Even if you are using a freight forwarder, they will act as your direct agent, identifying and booking the best routes, the right modes of transport and identifying specific carriers to meet your needs. However, the ultimate responsibility lies with you.
Exporting: Your Legal Responsibilities
If you’re trading outside the EU in particular, you can find the legal issues around exporting complex. You may have to navigate through a maze of import licences and restrictions, and local product standards before you’re good to go.
The UK government is on hand to provide advice to exporters, including specific advice pertaining to individual countries. Remember, always do your research.
Key things to check for are:
- Will you require a UK export licence? This will depend on where you’re intending exporting to.
- Will you face any overseas import restrictions? Again, this can vary from country to country.
- What are the local product standards, regulations and liability laws? You need to be sure that what you’re exporting will actually be exportable to your country of choice. Sometimes things like packaging require changing in order to meet local standards.
- Are there local import taxes you might have to pay? These can include customs duty, excise duty and a local sales or value added tax.
- Are you liable for anyone acting as your agent? Check your legal obligations, because they won’t be held responsible for your export debts, you will.
Exporting: Getting Your Shipping Right
There are various practicalities you should address if you want to be sure that your shipping works for you. Key to all this, however, is flexibility: you should manage for the best and expect the worse. Don’t give your customers unrealistic expectations by promising them over-optimistic deadlines.
Here are some basic things you should watch out for:
- The right labels – if you don’t want your shipping costs to go through the roof make sure your goods aren’t having to be returned to you because of invalid delivery addresses. You could end up paying twice for customs and shipping charges. Make sure you know the labelling requirements for the goods you’re exporting.
- Check your handler – you should know who is actually shipping your goods. You may be talking in the first instance to a shipping service which will contract your shipping out to another company; and some shipping management companies may try to maximise their profits by shipping your products by the cheapest, and therefore, slowest, means available.
- Correct packaging – your exported goods may be handled a number of times in transit so having them safely packaged so that they’re in the right condition on arrival is essential. Different destinations may also have regulations covering types of shipping containers, with some restrictions.
Exporting is good, providing you have knowledge and trust. You need to ensure you have all the background information necessary to make informed decisions. And when your engaging the services of others, you want to feel confident that they will provide you with an assured, reliable level of service.