8 Things E-Tailors Need to Know When Shipping Internationally From the UK
Since the United Kingdom parted company with the European Union, some of the rules have changed for ecommerce merchants involved in international shipping from the UK. Most of these changes affect goods being sent to the EU but some relate to cross-border ecommerce logistics in general.
In this article, we will begin by outlining in broad terms how to ship internationally from the UK, including how to manage customs regulations and the documentation required. Later we will look at the impact Brexit has had on shipping between Britain and the UAE.
1. Why Ship Goods Internationally?
If your business is not based in Britain, it could benefit significantly by adding items to your platform that can be shipped directly to customers from the UK. If you do operate in the UK, you could spur business growth by offering international sales, even if only for a select few items for starters.
Statista puts the average value of each international sale at 147 USD—17 percent higher than the average domestic sale. Rich pickings indeed! Although the logistics may be complicated, tackling them will pay handsome dividends in the long run.
2. How to Ship Internationally from the UK
Let’s start with the administration effort, the most onerous and challenging of the processes involved in international shipping from the UK. Customs declaration forms: The all-important forms that are required for all international shipping from the UK are known as CN22 and CN23. Which form you fill in depends on the value or weight of your shipment. Both forms provide customs officials with the information they need about the nature and value of the goods being shipped.
Harmonized Systems (HS) codes: These international codes classify traded products and were introduced to simplify the process of shipping goods across borders. They are used by customs officials to identify what goods are being shipped so they can assess the applicable taxes and duties. To streamline the customs clearance process, the codes must be submitted with your shipment.
Incoterms: International Commercial Terms are standardized shipping delivery terms that identify who is responsible for shipping costs, customs clearance, duties, taxes, liability, and transportation. For more details, read our incoterms blog post.
3. Shipping Solutions. Which One Works the Best for You?
Your choice of ecommerce international shipping solution will depend on the following factors: - The speed of delivery required - Your shipping budgets - The size of your packages - The value of the goods being shipped
Typically, courier companies offer safe and cost-effect delivery services for smaller packages, although larger shipments are not beyond their remit. Couriers offer a range of options for price and speed. They generally offer door-to-door delivery and, if requested, will take care of the packaging, documentation, and customs clearance of your goods.
Other options are Royal Mail, which is cheaper than a courier service but has an unfortunate reputation for slow delivery (which it is trying hard to counteract), or air freight, which is reliable but costly, and often affected by delayed or canceled flights. For many ecommerce retailers, sea freight is the best solution for large shipments which are not time-sensitive.
4. The Impact of Brexit on Shipping from the UK to the Middle East
Before the UK left the European Union on February 1, 2020, the rules and regulations governing shipping goods to and from Britain were the same as for all EU countries. The relevant taxes and duties were those that applied to shipping to and from any EU country.
Post-Brexit, however, the UK applies its own import/export rules and determines applicable taxes and duties independently. As an online retailer, you need to get to grips with the specific requirements and documentation required for exporting from the UK (see the section above). If you had never shipped from the UK before Brexit, the learning process will be the same as if shipping from any new country of origin. If you were accustomed to shipping from the UK before February 1, 2020, you will have to forget the old way of doing things and adapt to the new.
5. How Expensive is it to Ship Internationally?
There are many possible answers to this question. Costs vary according to parcel size and weight, mode of shipping, and speed of delivery. But there are some standards that indicate roughly what it may cost to send your goods to the Middle East. Let’s compare some prices and delivery rates.
The UK’s Royal Mail, for example, charges 9.35 pounds sterling ($11.70 USD) for next-day delivery from the UK to the GCC of a parcel weighing up to five kilograms. For a parcel weighing up to 30 kg, the price jumps to 18.35 pounds sterling ($23 USD). The two-day delivery rate for the same parcels are 8.95 pounds sterling ($11.20) and 14.95 pounds sterling ($18.70) respectively.
The rates quoted by various courier companies are significantly higher than those of Royal Mail, ranging from 14 pounds sterling ($17.50) to 35 pounds sterling ($44) for a one-kilogram package. Delivery speeds range from next day to within three days.
6. Prohibited Items—Don’t Be Caught Out
The list of items that you cannot ship to GCC countries is long and extensive. You wouldn’t want to go to the trouble and expense of shipping goods from the UK only to find them confiscated at the point of entry.
Besides the ban on the import of such obvious items as weapons and ammunition, alcohol, narcotics, pork and pork products, and pornographic material, other less-obvious items such as the following are also prohibited: - Nylon fishing nets - Used and re-treaded tires - Used clothing - Cotton - Seeds - Plants - Perishables - Communications equipment - Compact discs - Irradiated food products - Magazines, periodicals, journals - Publications that contradict Islamic teachings and values
7. Restricted Items—Special Permission Required
Many items need the special permission of the authorities before they can be brought into the GCC. Be aware that there will be delays while your application is being considered. Such items include the following: - Live animals - Chemicals - Pharmaceutical products - Wireless equipment - Perfumes containing alcohol - Family planning devices - Antiques - Statues - Radio-controlled model airplanes
8. For Simplified International E-tailing, Try an Ecommerce Integration Partner
Do you have an ecommerce business in the UK? Do you want to expand into GCC or other international markets? Perhaps your enterprise is based in the GCC and you want to bring imported goods in from the UK to sell in your region.
In any event, as you will note from this brief guide, there is plenty to think about in terms of cross-border ecommerce logistics between the United Kingdom and the GCC—or elsewhere for that matter.
It all adds up to form a compelling case for partnership with an ecommerce integration provider, like Shipa Ecommerce, which can simplify the entire supply chain process involved in selling goods from the UK into countries abroad. Indeed, our integration experts are ready to help your business right now, so why not contact us to learn more?