Importing to the UK from the EU

As a result of the Free Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, the manner in which goods are exported from Europe and imported into the UK has changed. 

Exporters from Europe to the UK have to follow a completely new set of rules, marking the most dramatic change to UK imports since the 1993 introduction of the EU single market.

Here, WTA UK breaks down the new changes and reveals how to export from Europe to the UK. 

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provisionally entered into force on 1st May 2021. It offers very liberal trading between the two partners. Zero tariffs and zero quotas on all trade of EU and UK goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin.

However, exporting goods from the EU to the UK now requires certain formalities to be completed, following Great Britain's exit from the customs union. The UK is treated like any other trading partner that has a deal with the EU, therefore the relevant customs forms need to be completed before export.

Latest Target Border Operating Model implementation timeline from the UK Government:

31 January 2024

The introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. The removal of pre-notification requirements for low risk plant and plant products from the EU.

30 April 2024

The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. Existing inspections of high risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to Border Control Posts.

31 October 2024

The requirement for Safety and Security declarations for exports from the EU into Great Britain or from other territories where the waiver applies will come into force from 31st October 2024 as set out in the original Target Operating Model. Alongside this, they will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets – such as pre-lodged customs declarations. 

Things to remember 

As the UK has left the single market, new regulations are in place for trade between the European bloc and the UK. The following is a quick breakdown of the important steps you will have to follow to export to the UK from Europe: 

Ensure you obtain an EORI Number 

To export goods to the UK, you will need to receive an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI). If your company does not have an EORI number, you will likely face delays and higher costs when exporting to the UK. 

Customs and duties

Ensure that when you export your goods to the UK, you understand the relevant taxes and duties to be paid. 

Declare appropriately  

It is important to declare all of the relevant information when exporting to the UK. One of the most important and newest declarations concerning UK/EU trade is the rules of origin. If you don’t declare the origin of your goods, you’re likely to face higher costs. 

Relevant Licences  

Naturally, you will have to ensure that your business holds all the required licences to import your goods and cargo into the UK. 

While it is possible to export to the UK in-house, a freight forwarding company such as WTA UK can help streamline the process and handle all the necessary documentation. This not only ensures optimum routes, but also reduces the risk of delays and fees from documentation errors.


WTA UK wants to take the stress out of exporting to Europe from the UK.

To learn more about how WTA UK can help you streamline the process of exporting from the UK, click below.

Read about exports from the UK


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