Exporting goods ― overview

Produced by Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Exporting goods ― overview
  • What are exports?
  • Direct exports
  • Indirect exports
  • Supplies to overseas customers with UK establishments
  • What conditions must be met in order to zero-rate an export?
  • Time of supply for exported goods
  • Goods accidentally lost, destroyed or stolen before export
  • Exports where there is no taxable supply
  • Time limits for exporting goods
  • More...

Exporting goods ― overview

From 1 January 2021, the physical removal of goods from Great Britain to a place outside the UK will normally be treated as an export for VAT purposes. This guidance note provides details on what requirements need to be satisfied in order for that export to be zero-rated.

This note does not cover movements of goods which involve Northern Ireland. For Northern Ireland, see the Northern Ireland ― overview guidance note.

For in-depth discussion of the legislation and case law in this area, see De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.313.

What are exports?

The following are treated as exports:

  1. the exporter supplies or owns goods and exports, or arranges for them to be exported, to a non-UK destination (direct export)

  2. the exporter supplies goods to an overseas person who arranges for the goods to be exported to a non-UK destination (indirect export). An overseas person is a business or company who is not resident in the UK or a business that has no business establishment in the UK from which taxable supplies are made, or is an overseas authority

Notice 703, paras 2.4, 2.8, 2.9; VEXP20400; De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.303

The terms ‘direct exports’ and ‘indirect exports’ are explained below.

Direct exports

From a VAT perspective, a direct export occurs when the GB supplier sends the goods to a non-UK destination and is responsible for the transportation of those goods. The supplier can use a logistics company to deal with the actual transportation on its behalf.

The goods can be exported:

  1. in the supplier’s baggage

  2. in the supplier’s own transportation (eg car, lorry, ship, etc)

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