What Regulations apply when I supply goods in the EU?

Statistics suggest that around half of UK exports go to EU destinations, so what regulations and documentation apply.  Goods are in free circulation when shipped within the EU which means no duty or customs checks apply.

What regulations do I need to consider?

Generally speaking for most goods, you can use the same commercial documents which you use in the UK, to ship your goods to most EU destinations.   The same rules apply for your specific products as within the UK, for example when shipping hazardous goods, the same documentation will be required.

 VAT on Goods Supplied to EU

Before supplying goods to the EU, it is important that you establish whether or not your customer is registered for VAT in their country.

  •  VAT at UK rates should be applied to goods supplied to other EU members states to someone who is NOT registered for VAT in that state.
  • Zero rate VAT can be applied to goods supplied to someone who is registered for VAT in another EU state and you will need to report these sales to HMRC on your UK VAT Return.
  • EC Sales List (ESL)   If you have declared zero rated sales to the EU on your VAT return, then customs will request that you complete an ESL and submit it to them quarterly, if your zero rated sales are under £35,000, or monthly if they are over £35,000.  You do not need to submit nil returns.    This is the method used by customs authorities in other EU countries to reconcile these zero rated sales within their country.
  • Intrastat Supplementary Declaration (SD) is the method used by customs to collect statistical information about the movement of goods between Member States of the European Union (EU), and must be used if you reach the thresholds for your arrivals and despatches set by Customs.
    From January 2014 these threshholds are:
    £250,000 for Dispatches per annum
    £1.2 million for Arrivals per annum

Duty Suspended Goods in the EU – EMCS

If you ship goods which are subject to excise duty, eg. alcohol, tobacco or fuel products anywhere within the UK or the rest of the EU, then you can only move them from a bonded warehouse once you have informed customs about this movement of goods.

  • Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) is the EU wide electronic system used to manage duty suspended movements.  You must make an electronic submission to customs giving details about the goods being shipped, and to do this you will need to register with HMRC.
  • An Administrative Reference Code (ARC number) will be produced by EMCS which will be used to identify your shipment whilst travelling in duty suspension both within the UK and the rest of the EU.
  • e-AD electronic Administrative Document is used to transmit the data about your shipment to other customs authorities and a paper version of this can be printed if required.
  • “Departed” and “Arrived” submissions.   Your shipment will be tracked throughout its journey and departed and arrived submission must be made and any shortages or excesses will be recorded to establish whether any duty liability has arisen.

i2i has a number of online services to help you comply with these regulations and further information can be found on our 4-exim web site.

These notes are intended for guidance only, and we suggest that you check with your local Chamber of Commerce if you need more specific guidance on shipping your goods within the EU.


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This entry was posted in EMCS Excise Goods Movements, Export Documents, Intrastat Reporting, UK / EU Customs Services, VAT and the ESL. Bookmark the permalink.