Exports from the UK

Exports from the UK were valued at US$469.2 billion in 2019.

It is widely known that the UK has a large trade deficit, whereby it imports more than it exports, nevertheless, exports a large amount.

The latest available country-specific data as outlined by World’s Top Exports indicates 67.9% of products exported from the UK were bought by importers in: 

  • United States (15.5% of the global total)
  • Germany (9.9%)
  • France (6.7%), 
  • Netherlands (6.5%)
  • China (6.4%)
  • Ireland (5.9%)
  • Belgium (3.6%)
  • Switzerland (3.3%)
  • Spain (2.9%)
  • Italy (2.7%)
  • Hong Kong (2.4%) 
  • United Arab Emirates (2.1%)

Tapping into these exports figures presents many opportunities for your business rather than just relying on your local market. Whether you are currently exporting or looking to export, there are many factors to be considered, especially when it comes to the complex world of compliance.

Click on the graphic boxes to view and download our WTA exports brochures.

10 quick tips for your UK exports

Key exports considerations you need to explore

  • Mode of transportation
  • Customs and compliance
  • Legal requirements

When exporting, having the correct documentation is key to prevent delays or rejection of your goods. 

Regardless of which market you are exporting to (or are looking to export to), you need to find the right logistical partner who is going to fit your requirements and will be capable of handling all of the complex elements of exports anywhere around the globe. Doing so will allow you to focus on your core business competencies. 

Your logistics partner of choice will help you to establish what modes of transport are best suited for your export requirements depending on the time-frames and logistics budget. 



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What modes of transport are best suited for your export requirements?

Before selecting your mode of transport it is beneficial to first investigate your budget and time frames.

Sea Freight

Sea Freight is very often deemed the most cost-effective way of exporting your goods from the UK. Sea Freight offers flexible transit times, routes, competitive rates and services.

There are several different sea freight options you could go with. Either a 20ft/40ft/40ft high cube, which you can easily fill if you have enough product. If you do not have enough to ship a full container, there are ‘Less than Container Load’ (LCL) options available. Transit times will vary depending on what port you are using. 

Air Freight

If you’re importing goods that are small in quantity, high value, or if you need your goods urgently then Air Freight is the best option. Bear in mind this is the more expensive option.

They are several air freighting options available to you and more information can be found here.

European Road Freight

If you are exporting goods to Europe then road freight is also an option worth considering. 

Full or Part load road transport is available through-out Europe utilising our European network.

Get more detail information at our European Road Freight Services page.


When exporting your goods from the UK, You need to decide whether you're going to control the shipping process or whether your customer is going to control it.

International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) helps to define the responsibility of the seller to the buyer within the supply chain. Incoterms are prepared by the International Chamber of Commerce and include FOB, EXW, CIF, DDU etc. Depending on the incoterms that you decide to use, if you decide you would like control of the product then it is worth considering insuring your goods.

For more information on the Incoterms for 2021 click here.

Customs and compliance

When exporting goods from the UK you need to have a thorough understanding of what the requirements are for customs and compliance. Depending on where you are exporting to, each country will have a different set of rules and regulations. If you are shipping food products, chemicals or pharmaceuticals, expect more custom procedures that need to be complied with.

The Market Access Database is a very useful tool that outlines what documentation you need for the country you are exporting to. See the Market Access Database here.

We have drawn up a comprehensive trade guide library giving you insights into why exporting to a particular country such as the USA could be of significant benefit to your business. Plus we have created country-specific export brochures, which will outline in detail the export procedures you should be aware of.  Check out our library of Trade and Export Guides here.

WTA Logistics General Exports
WTA Logistics US Exports
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Speak to Anthony

Anthony began his career with World Transport Agency 26 years ago, gaining unparalleled experience and establishing himself as a respected freight forwarder.

Anthony has held numerous roles at World Transport Agency, working his way from an export clerk, up to his current position as Associate Director of sea freight exports.

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Anthony Oldham WTA Group