UK Exporting to mainland Europe but goods direct from US?


We currently import goods from the US and sell on to stockists in the UK.
However we are looking at the best way of expanding in to Europe as we already have stockists asking. However we don’t want to incur delivery charges into the UK and then further into Europe (thinking margins!).

So is it possible to import from US direct to the Europe but through our UK based company?

Thanks in advance for the help


Alastair, yes we already do this type of operation for a number of Customers. It’s called "cross trade". You buy from your supplier and the goods are shipped direct to your Customers under cover if your invoice to them. Our Agents at origin make sure that no paperwork from the factory accompanies (goes forward) with the goods so that their identity is not disclosed to the consignees.
Kind rgds
Nigel Sleigh (


Hi Alastair- as Nigel says it is possible but please make sure you set things up correctly. We call this "direct shipping" and it is a modern way of doing international business

1. Ensure you make a distinction between "Europe" and members of the European Union – I am going to answer as if you just mean EU countries
2. The UK is a member of the EU and all 27 members have a common external tariff which means that customs import duty only need to be paid once BUT we are not a single VAT zone.
3. To import from a 3rd country ie USA into the EU you must have an EORI – in some of the other member states you are not able to use your UK registered EORI but must have one registered in the importing country
4. VAT is due at import at the rate applicable to the importing country. If you are going to be the importer of record in another member state you need to sort out VAT, the simplest way for Customs is for you to be VAT registered in that country but that brings with it other responsibilites. Another option is employing a "fiscal representative".

I don’t want to put you off this but plan carefully. A simple way is to get your customers in the EU to be the importer of record but this means you would have to ensure the freight company uses your invoice to import the goods and the USA company’s paperwork doesn’t get to the customer. We will be happy to provide help with this email or check this out


Hi Alastair
As the previous respondents mentioned, it is perfectly possible to have goods shipped direct from the US to your customers in the EU. However you do need to consider the VAT issues and you may well have to register for the equivalent of VAT in other EU countries. There are specialist companies that can advise on when it is necessary to register for the equivalent of VAT in other European countries and they can also carry out the application process and manage the returns if necessary. One company that I am aware of is TMF: – however there are others!

Perhaps you could start by looking at one or two EU countries where you feel there is sufficient demand for this – talk to a freight forwarder about the logistics side of things and a VAT specialist about the VAT implication – from those discussions, you will start to get an idea of the costs vs potential savings and take it from there.

Tracy Ruff
UKTI South West

Export Action Plan