Exporting - an overview

Transport considerations

Your responsibility for transport depends on your agreement with your customer or supplier. For example, you might be responsible for delivering the goods to a warehouse in the customer's country. Your obligations should be clearly set out in a written contract using Incoterms. Incoterms are standard trade terms that set out who is responsible for transporting goods, insuring the goods during transportation, paying duties and customs clearance. Read our guide on International Commercial Contracts - Incoterms.

The best mode of transport for your goods will depend on the type of goods and how quickly they need to be delivered. You may need more than one mode, for example, sending goods by lorry to a port in the UK and then by ship overseas. The goods will need suitable packaging and labelling for transportation. It may be possible for your goods to be sent via post. See our guides on international transport and distribution and importing and exporting by post.

Depending on the contract, you may need to arrange insurance. Marine insurance can cover transport by air, road or rail as well as by sea. Find a member who can help you arrange insurance on the British Insurance Brokers Association website.

Normally, you are responsible for UK customs procedures and your customer looks after customs in their country. In any case, you must ensure that you have the right paperwork.

Most companies use a specialist freight forwarder to handle transport. Confirm exactly what they will do and whether they can handle all documentation and other procedures. See our guide on Using brokers and forwarders.

Look for a forwarder who exports regularly to that destination. They can 'consolidate' your goods with other consignments in a single container to reduce costs. Reputable freight forwarders are usually members of the British International Freight Association (BIFA). You can find a forwarder on the BIFA website.

Getting international transport right can be complicated. You can get advice from a member of UK Trade & Investment international trade team. Find your local international trade team on the UK Trade & Investment website.

Use our interactive tool to identify what you need to know to export to your target country.

Subjects covered in this guide

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