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.
Department for International Trade
The Department for International Trade (DIT) is the Government Department that works with UK based businesses to ensure their success in international markets through exports, and encourages and supports overseas companies to look at the UK as the best place to set up or expand their business.
DIT 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. dit staff, based in British Embassies and other Diplomatic offices in more than 100 markets around the world, can offer local, in-market knowledge and expertise.
DIT has helped many thousands of businesses achieve international success by providing tailored services with specialist support covering a wide range of industries. Services include training, market visits, market research and introductions, consultancy and mentoring. Its clients consistently cite the importance of DIT support in helping them to overcome barriers to new overseas business and improve their business performance.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade
Enterprise Europe Network (EU)
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) exists to help small companies make the most of the business opportunities in the European Union. 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 its regional experts can help you find international business partners, source new technologies and receive EU funding or finance. They can also advise you on issues as diverse as intellectual property, going international, or EU law and standards.
To support international expansion EEN helps find you competent and trustworthy partners through its business database and matchmaking events. With hundreds of new company profiles added every week, its business cooperation database is one of the world’s largest. When you get in touch with the Network, they enter your cooperation offer or request into the database and you will then receive updates on companies interested in the same kind of cross-border business as you.
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 topics such as export licences, export taxes, import licences and rates of exchange.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/business-tax/import-export
Intellectual Property Office
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
The IPO operates and maintains a clear and accessible intellectual property system in the UK and helps people get the right type of protection for their creation or invention, and it also provides guidance on how to protect your intellectual property abroad.
For further information visit the Intellectual Property Office
International Intellectual Property Helpdesks
The following helpdesks are funded by the EU and offer services in English, including advice, materials and training:
- EU IPR Helpdesk – www.iprhelpdesk.eu
- China IPR Helpdesk (covers , Hong Kong, Macau Taiwan) – www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu
- Asean IPR Helpdesk – www.asean-iprhelpdesk.eu
UK Export Finance
UK Export Finance (UKEF) is the UK’s export credit agency. It helps UK exporters by providing insurance to exporters and guarantees to banks to share the risks of providing export finance. In addition, it can make loans to overseas buyers of goods and services from the UK. UKEF is the operating name of the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD)UKEF does not lend directly, but works closely with exporters, banks, buyers and project sponsors to support exports to, and investments in, markets across the world. It does this principally by:
- insuring UK exporters against non-payment by their overseas buyers
- helping overseas buyers to purchase goods and services from UK exporters by guaranteeing or funding bank loans to finance the purchases
- sharing credit risks with banks to help exporters raise tender and contract bonds, in accessing pre- and post-shipment working capital finance and in securing confirmations of letters of credit
- insuring UK investors in overseas markets against political risks
For more information visit: UK Export Finance
Export Control Organisation (ECO)
Any item exported from the UK that is subject to export control needs a licence. The Export Control Organisation (ECO) is responsible for assessing and issuing (or refusing) export licences for a wide range of controlled, so-called ‘strategic’ goods. Strategic goods include:
- military equipment
- dual-use goods – goods that can be used for both civil and military purposes
- products used for torture
- radioactive sources
The ECO’s Helpline is available for general queries about strategic export licensing.
- Tel: 020 7215 4594
- Fax: 020 7215 2635
- Email: email@example.com
To find out if your product or service needs a licence and for more information visit the Export Control Organisation
The Gov.UK website is the official UK government website, and in addition to the individual department information listed above it also provides links to information, and resources to help companies make the most of international opportunities, including details for telephone helplines.
You can view the full list of useful links here https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/imports-exports
The Business Support 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: 0300 456 3565 – 9.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday).
nibusinessinfo.co.uk, a free service offered by Invest Northern Ireland, is the official online channel for business advice and guidance in Northern Ireland.
It contains essential information, support and services for you and your business – whether you work for a large organisation or are on your way to starting up.
Simple to use, up to date and practical, nibusinessinfo.co.uk is the first place to go to find guidance on regulations and to access government services. It also has a number of useful online tools, calculators, and best practice case studies; and provides access to funding options, as well as wider support.
Bilateral Business Councils
Bilateral Business Councils promote trade between the UK and key regions that may be more challenging to access. They tend to deliver a range of practical services, including advice and consultancy, market research, overseas market introductions, trade missions and exhibitions, and setting up local offices. Councils include:
Established in 1935, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting and international trade.
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. It achieves 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&IT website at: www.export.org.uk
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, for example http://www.taforum.org/Members.
Smithers Pira (formerly the Printing Industry Research Association, PIRA) is the worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains. It provides market intelligence offering an independent, expert view of emerging markets, technologies and factors which will affect packaging, and offer a range of testing services supported by comprehensive facilities in the UK to test the packaging performance of your product whilst in transit and post-distribution.
For more information visit http://www.smitherspira.com/about-us
Chambers of commerce
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
The British Chambers of Commerce (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
Export Britain is an online resource by the British Chambers of Commerce which 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 international UK business 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 from the Chambers 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.
For more information visit: www.exportbritain.org.uk
COBCOE – Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe
COBCOE members are British Chambers of Commerce and business associations located throughout Europe. All have experience and knowledge in their local markets.
To help businesses harness this expertise, COBCOE offers practical support through its Make Europe Work!® programme. This includes a Guide to Business Culture and Etiquette around Europe, the First Call scheme, providing one hour of free professional advice through the COBCOE network, an online research enquiry service (powered by Kompass UK), access to Business Advisory Services from ICAEW, the Trade Europe platform, which provides a wide range of support services from meetings to market research, and information about the British Business Centres in Emerging Europe.
For more information, visit www.cobcoe.eu
One of the other things you may need to consider is how to deliver 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.
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 can provide you with a range of advice, from starting a business, organising your financial affairs, financial management and taxation. Small businesses can find details of ICAEW chartered accountants in their local area at www.businessadviceservice.com
The Law Society has many members who offer services 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.
For more information visit 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 organisations
Great British Store
GreatBritishStore.com is a global business-to-business platform, showcasing British products and services. Working in association with UK Trade & Investment, in over 106 global markets to attract international distributors, wholesalers, retail buyers and agents. If you would like to register on the site please click here.
Global buyers can now search for British products and services, knowing that they will find Great British innovation, design and quality in one place.
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techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow and represents over 850 member companies, primarily SMEs. It is partnering with DIT to help more UK tech companies export to overseas markets. Its comprehensive international business programme covers sectors including security, financial services, healthcare and communications.
As part of techUK’s service, member companies can receive a combination of free, high quality business and market intelligence, financial and practical support for overseas business visits, attendance at international conferences and speaking opportunities at overseas seminars. Its partner agency, Trade Fair Support, provides full support to UK companies exhibiting at selected internationally technology trade shows. Financial support of up to £2,500 is available towards the cost of exhibiting for eligible UK SMEs
For more information please visit techUK.
Start Up Loans is a government programme providing loans to pre-launch or recently launched UK businesses. The scheme provides free business planning prior to taking any monies ensuring applicants are in the best possible position to receive funding. Once an individual receives their repayable loan they will also be given access to an expert mentor, free training course and business offers.
To find out if you are eligible and for more information visit www.startuploans.co.uk