Guideline Import/Export Start-Up


We are an Import/Export start up but I am going a bit in circle with the legislation and things to do and how to do it. So far I have my idea and my strong relationship with suppliers in Italy.
I am writing on this web page to get some guideline on the following step I need to take
Basically we want to buy products from Italy (we have a range from cheese to preserves and Oils) and then export them in Europe and outside Europe. We have right now few customers in Dubai and Switzerland.

Register the company, any things to know about Import Export registration?
Once I register the company what steps do I need to take;
License ?
Office to contact and register?
good material to read?
Do I need a Business consultant or an import agent for all the paperwork?
What are the paper work?

I do apologize if my questions are a bit confusing and I thank you in advance for your answer


Hello Edigio,
The paperwork required and the reporting required will depend on where your company is registered UK or Italy.

If you are registered in UK but all your exports are leaving from Italy to go direct to your customers it will be quite complicated and I think you will need a fiscal agent in Italy to take care of your tax liabilities. You would not want your UK company to be taxed on its profits both in the UK and in Italy.

Exporting from Italy to other EU countries has a completely different system to exporting to the rest of the world. The first involves intrastats, export sales lists and VAT returns. The second involves customs entries, invoices, certificate of origin etc. etc. and import duty and tax in the country of destination. If you are directly exporting from Italy you will need to obtain / produce these documents in Italy.

You need to obtain a tariff code for your products see

You can find out about the requirements in destination countries here

You will also need to decide on your delivery terms (different to your sales terms). This is usually done with the use of an INCOterm see
For non EU countries It is a good idea to let your customer handle the importation as he/she will be best placed to recover any taxes if that is possible in the destination country.

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Hi Susan,

thank you so much for your quick reply. I would like to breakdown my query and analyse a bit the first part of your answer that means just moving goods in EU.

1)Buying goods from Italy and sell it here in UK I will need as you wrote : intrastats, export sales lists and VAT returns.

2)Buying goods from Italy and sell it directly to customers in Europe
You say this is the tricky part. It will be tricky even in the case I buy a service from a third logistics service that will take care about stock and delivery? I will not use any warehouse in Italy.

thanks again!


Part 1 of your question: Buy in Italy, sell in UK. What are your terms of contract?
If you buy ex works Italy the Italian company need not be the exporter. This would leave you needing to either establish your own company in Italy to act as exporter or needing to contract with a company such as a fiscal agent in Italy to work on your behalf. It matters whether or not the parties are VAT registered and how much business you are doing.

If you buy on terms where the Italian supplier is going to be the exporter you then need to decide who is to be the importer. Is it your company or is it your customer if you are direct shipping? (Part 2 of your questions). This changes who should be completing the intrastats and VAT returns and it is also important to know if the parties involved are VAT registered.

Your terms of supply (delivery not payment) are also important as they need to match your choices in the points above.

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Export Action Plan