Who can help me export?

A wide range of support services exist to help UK exporters and would-be exporters to tackle virtually all of the issues and challenges they are likely to face, helping them become established in International markets.

The following are just some of the many organisations that can help you get started on your exporting journey.

UK Trade & Investment

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in global markets and assists overseas firms in bringing their high-quality investment to the UK.

UKTI has a global network of 2,400 staff. Its International Trade Advisers (ITAs) around the UK have years of business experience to draw on when advising companies. In 96 markets based in British Embassies and other Diplomatic offices around the world, UKTI staff can offer local, in-market knowledge and expertise.

Talk To A UKTI Export Adviser
Find your nearest UKTI office

UKTI has helped many thousands of businesses achieve international success by providing tailored services with specialist support covering a wide range of industries. Its clients consistently cite the importance of UKTI support in helping them to overcome barriers to new overseas business and improve their business performance.

UKTI services have helped its customers to:

  • understand how to do business overseas
  • identify opportunities and open doors
  • reach customers/business partners not otherwise accessible
  • raise their profile and credibility overseas
  • overcome barriers to entry or expansion
  • improve overseas marketing strategy
  • gain access to information not otherwise available
  • understand the competition
  • access powerful research to inform management decisions
  • have the confidence to explore or expand in overseas markets.

For more information visit: www.ukti.gov.uk

UK Export Finance

UK Export Finance is the operating name of the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), the UK’s export credit agency.

UK Export Finance does not lend directly, but supports UK exports by issuing insurance contracts to UK exporters and by issuing guarantees to banks which make loans to overseas borrowers, which are used to purchase supplies from UK exporters. UK Export Finance’s services help facilitate export contracts by providing protection against the risks of the exports not being paid for.

In 2010-11, UK Export Finance (then known as ECGD) supported £2.9 billion of UK exports (up from £2.2 billion the previous year). In late 2011 it announced an extension to its credit insurance policy to cover all sectors and sizes of company, as well as the launch of three new short-term products.

For more information visit: www.ecgd.gov.uk

Export Britain

Export Britain, the new online resource from the British Chambers of Commerce, showcases opportunities in key international markets, and links UK exporters to support available from British Chambers and Business Groups both in the UK and around the world.

Export Britain helps businesses to make new connections overseas by drawing on the power of the global network of British Chambers and Business Groups. The site also helps growing and prospective exporters navigate through the export journey by signposting the support available every step of the way. Additionally, Export Britain provides information on export training and documentation, events and trade missions, and inspiring case studies featuring successful UK exporters. Visit: www.exportbritain.org.uk

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)

The BCC, and its network of affiliated Chambers, support and advise businesses in all areas of international trade. With a worldwide network of bilateral and international chambers of commerce, the BCC can provide UK exporters with numerous services including: export documentation, market research, training, translation services and letters of credit. For more information visit the BCC’s website at: www.britishchambers.org.uk

The Institute of Export (IOE)

The Institute’s mission is to enhance the export performance of the UK by setting and raising professional standards in international trade management and export practice. They achieve this by the provision of education and training programmes. The IOE offers recognised formal qualifications in international trade. It also runs a series of short training courses covering every aspect of international trade management, sales and marketing, logistics and documentary requirements, and international trade finance. For more information visit the IOE website at: www.export.org.uk

Export Control Organisation (ECO)

Any item exported from the UK that is subject to export control needs a licence. The ECO is responsible for assessing and issuing (or refusing) export licences for a wide range of controlled, so-called ‘strategic’ goods. This includes military and dual-use items. For more information visit www.bis.gov.uk/exportcontrol

The ECO’s Helpline is on hand for general queries about strategic export licensing.

Intellectual Property Office

Intellectual property rights can allow you to own things you create, in a similar way to owning physical property. You can control the use of your IP, and use it to gain reward. IP rights only give protection in the country where they are registered, so if you are thinking of trading internationally, then you should consider registering your IP rights abroad. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) can provide guidance: www.intellectual-property.gov.uk

International Intellectual Property Helpdesks

The following helpdesks are funded by the EU and offer services in English, including advice, materials and training:

HM Revenue & Customs

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) provides assistance on a number of matters relating to the importing and exporting of goods. Information and guides are available covering topics such as the classification of goods, the European Union, Relief Procedures on Duty and VAT, Tariffs and Duties, Intrastate and the requirement to submit Supplementary Declarations, together with basic guides on export licences, export taxes, import licences, rates of exchange, etc. For more information visit: www.hmrc.gov.uk

Enterprise Europe Network

Enterprise Europe Network is your first port of call to find out about trading with and in European markets. Made of 600 partner organisations in more than 40 countries, and supported by the European Commission, the network’s aim is to promote competitiveness and innovation at local level in Europe and beyond. Within the UK and Ireland, 11 consortia of 31 business development organisations can help you take your business to Europe by:

  • Providing free business advice and support
  • Organising networking events
  • Keeping you up-to-date with bulletins and briefings
  • Sharing our innovation expertise
  • helping you work out how to protect and make the most of your company’s ideas and technologies
  • Guidance on accessing European funding
  • Feeding back your business issues to the policy-makers
  • Promoting your innovation across Europe
  • Helping you find business/research partners, including overseas manufacturers
  • Alerting you to the latest partnering opportunities
  • Providing access to a database of European businesses
  • Providing access to a database of European technology profiles

For more information and contact points in your region, visit www.enterprise-europe.net

Bilateral Business Councils

Bilateral Business Councils promote trade between countries. They are particularly useful at the planning & research stage of exporting, as they can provide detailed information on a specific market, including sector performance and consumer behaviour.

Trade Associations

Whatever sector you are in, you will find support and information relating to your business from trade associations. Many offer an international scope and are therefore a great resource for anyone considering exporting. You can find your sector’s trade association using an internet search engine or online directory.


The Gov.UK website provides the information, advice and support needed to start, maintain and grow a business (www.gov.uk/browse/business). It provides information and advice to help customers make the most of their opportunities. For SMEs thinking about exporting goods to countries outside the EU or send them to another EU country visit www.gov.uk/starting-to-export. A Business Link Helpline is also available to provide help and advice with business related queries for those who are unable to access/use the internet or unable to find the information they need on the web (Tel: 0845 600 9006 – 9.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday).

Freight forwarding

One of the other things you\’ll need to think about is how to move your goods overseas. Much will depend on the nature of your goods and their destination and you will need to evaluate the best combination of time and cost with the characteristics of your product. There are various methods of shipping goods: by air, road, sea, or rail. Some companies offer multi-modal solutions; this means that they offer more than one service. For more information about freight forwarding please contact the British International Freight Associationat www.bifa.org

Your bank

Your bank can provide a range of help on topics such as managing foreign transactions, trading overseas in sterling, owning assets abroad, exchange rates and managing foreign exchange risks. For more detailed financial advice and guidance on issues that affect you, you should talk to the international section of your bank.

Your accountant

Your accountant can provide you with a range of advice, from starting a business, organising your financial affairs, financial management and taxation. You should also be aware that the Institute for Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has just launched a new scheme: small businesses across the UK are being offered free expert advice from ICAEW Chartered Accountants as part of an initiative called the Business Advice Service(BAS). It aims to help small companies and start-ups with business and financial advice to help economic growth. Small businesses can find details of ICAEW chartered accountants in their local area at www.businessadviceservice.com

Your lawyer

Your lawyer will also be able to help you. Similar to the ICAEW’s BAS, the Law Society has many members which offer a service for SMEs. ‘Lawyers For Your Business’ is a network of 1,000 solicitor firms in England and Wales offering specialist advice and a free half-hour initial consultation to small and medium-sized businesses. Advice can be sought on a range of legal issues – both domestic and international.

In 2012 the Law Society will also be working with its solicitor members to produce practical ‘Doing international business’ guides aimed at SME firms new to exporting their products and services internationally.

The guides will look at some of the fundamental legal issues which SMEs need to consider when working internationally. Topics being covered will include:

  • international employment issues
  • international contracts
  • business structures
  • debt recovery
  • tax
  • dispute resolution

These guides will be available as publications, but also as webinars and will be promoted widely to small businesses. For more information visit the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.org.uk

A Notary Public

A Notary is an internationally recognised lawyer who can offer independent certification of a variety of international trade documentation. For more information or to find a Notary you can visit the Notaries Society website at: www.thenotariessociety.org.uk

Other useful resources

1. GrowthAccelerator
GrowthAccelerator is a premium service that helps England’s brightest growing businesses achieve their ambitions with rapid, sustainable growth. GrowthAccelerator’s network of world-class growth experts work side by side with leaders of high-growth potential SMEs to provide them with the know-how and ability to achieve sustainable growth. The service helps discover the real issues that could be holding businesses back, define the right growth plan and open doors to world class business experts and networks.

To find out more visit www.growthaccelerator.com or find some great case studies at www.youtube.com/user/GrowthAccel

2. techUK
A world leading digital economy – today and tomorrow

techUK believes that to ensure jobs and growth in the future the UK has to be amongst the world’s most advanced digital economies. This means that it needs to be a leader in both the development and use of digital technology for the benefit of the UK economy and its citizens. This vision inspires and informs everything that techUK does. techUK is committed to helping its members grow, helping the sector grow and helping the wider economy grow through the smart use for tech.

techUK has a clear, simple mission

Make the UK good for tech

  • Ensure that the UK is the best place in the world for technology companies (both domestic and foreign owned) to locate and grow

Make tech good for the UK

  • Ensure that the full economic potential of technology is harnessed right across the economy

Make tech good for people

  • Ensure that technology is used to improve and enhance the quality of life of all consumers and citizens

In addition to our extensive programme of activities, techUK members enjoy access to a growing number of services that have been created to help members refine, grow and develop their businesses. Trade & export is a key part of the techUK programme and as part of this we are delighted to be working with UKTI to co-deliver a ‘Technology is GREAT’ global campaign in 2014/15. For more information please visit techUK.