How to start Export Import Agency Business. What are basic Requirements and Government Regulations?


We are new to this industry. We have some links to India but do not know how to start with in the UK. Please advise as much as possible to start agency. Do we need any License or any special requirements.


The easiest way to set up a business in the UK is to become what is known as a ‘SOLE TRADER’. This means that only you own the business and you can work alone or employ other people.
for this you need to register for ‘Self Assessment’ Tax’, which means you (or your accountant) calculate your own tax, this can be done on the internet at Then follow the instructions to Register Self Assessment.
First thing need to do is have a National Insurance Number this can by done on the internet at: May I suggest a FAST TRACK SERVICE so that this can all be done in 3 to 4 working hours (rather than weeks of waiting). This service costs about £84.00 I know this is a lot but it is worth it, so that you can move on fairly quickly.
As a ‘Sole Trader’ you can trade under your own name or choose a business name.

The other way if you want to be a Limited Company then you must register with Companies House, but for this you have to register for Corporation Tax at

I strongly recommend that you have a Duns Number as this then shows that you can work internationally as well.

Depending on what countries you wish to deal with there is a UK Strategic Export Control List for End Use Controls (ECO) and these will tell you what is licensable by ECO, if you are dealing in medicines then you will have to go to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA). If you ship any items containing liquid one can download a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) template of the internet. There is also your local Chamber of Commerce that can supply you with all other information you require.
I hope this is of some use for you to get started here in the UK.


You do not mention the types of products your new business is going to import/export, but I have been assisting a new import/export business in the food and drinks sector based in London since June 2013 to get established.

There are many considerations to take into account including basic things like, location of your office/warehouse, trading name, ownership, initial start capital, company registration and registration for VAT, website, plus many other details. A very important aspect is a good understanding of VAT rules and regulations as any mistakes in this area will potentially cost you dear with HMRC.

One thing I have learned is that trading margins in the food and drinks sectors are small for third party brokers/agents, so it will also be necessary to decide whether you want to be a commission agent or someone who buys from the manufacturer/wholesaler and then sells on to a customer in the UK or overseas.

If you think I can be of any assistance then please get in touch. [email protected]


Thank you all of you for your Valuable inputs.

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