Do I need an Export Licence?

Question posted by Maki Fukuda, on behalf of Maki Fukuda in DY13


I am trying to set up an on-line shop where I can sell British Real Ales.

The business is for private importers (not retailers) in Japan.
I will not sell any alcohol in UK nor any other countries outside Japan.

Due to the high postage and custom regulations in Japan, each shipment will be quite small, e.g. 2 x 500ml.

I will purchase bottles of beer from my local retailers, supermarkets or directly from breweries.
As far as I understand, beer duty are already paid.

My questions are:

Do I need to apply an Export Licence?

Do I need to register as an alcohol retailer?

Looking forward to your answers.

Thank you for your help.

Maki Fukuda

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Jennie Rich, on behalf of UK Trade & Investment in SW1H.

Dear Maki,

Thank you for your question.

We had a similar question earlier this year about exporting food to the Middle East. There were a couple of useful responses to it.

We also have a webinar on Food and Drink Exporting : Regulation, Distribution and Support next Thursday which might help.



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Darren Brundell, on behalf of Woodland Group in .

Hi Maki,

Assuming you will be shipping using Royal Mail or similar Parcel service as small quantities then my thoughts are that no export licence / need to register as alcohol retailer would be needed.

To clear up any doubt going forward I would call the HMRC advice line on 0845 010 9000.

You might also wish to consider that there is a good market in Asia with private buyers for premium UK whiskeys.

Kind regards,

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Julian McWatt, on behalf of TOB Trading S de RL de CV in Mexico.

Hello Maki,

For air freight, you'll be limited to sending ale in glass bottles only as aluminium cans collapse inwards and usually burst open from the drop in pressure. I would also check which ales are pasteurized (not all are) as this affects the shelf life of the product - buying from a supermarket (compared to getting a more recent batch direct from the brewery) might mean 1-3 months life lost before you even post them out.


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