Get export ready
The EU internal market is vast and holds a lot of opportunities. But competition is fierce and gaining a foothold poses a great challenge. For you as a potential exporter thorough preparation is of utmost importance, and we are happy to help.
We have compiled a list of questions that will give some guidance in your peparatory work. Go through them one by one and when you have "ticked all the boxes", you are one step closer to becoming export ready.
Do you know your tariff code?
All products have a specific code. When exporting, every commodity that enters or crosses most international borders have to be declared to customs. Therefore you need to know how to classify your product in order for it to be identified. This means that you need to find out and specify your products tariff codes.
It is important to classify products because then you will know:
- correct custom duties and fees
- rules and requirements applicable for the product
- what rules of origin that applies
- trade statistics.
You can search for your tariff code and view rates and requirements applicable to your product at the EU Trade Helpdesk, a free online tool from the European Commission. Please go to related information at the bottom of the page.
Does your country have a preferential agreement with the EU?
The EU has trade agreements in place with countries and regions around the world. These trade agreements can benefit you as an exporter in various ways.
Find out more about the EU's trade agreements
Most trade agreements are preferential, between the EU and other countries, which means that certain products, from the exporting countries, are granted preferential access to the EU market. This is done by reducing or removing tariffs.
When thinking of exporting to Sweden and the EU, knowledge of the trade relationship between your country and the EU will be useful.
Customs duties for your products?
Customs duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. These duties can differ depending on the type of product. With the help of your tariff code, you can search for the specific duty that applies to your product. You can also find if there are import restrictions or quotas attached to the product.
As mentioned above, the EU has preferential trade agreements with countries enabling exporters to benefit from preferential tariffs.
An exporter from Mozambique wants to export eggplants to Sweden. Tariff code 0709 30 00 00.
The general tariff is 12,8 percent, but Mozambique has a trade agreement (EBA) with the EU, thus benefitting from a preferential tariff of 0 percent. Please note: The lower tariff is only applicable if the product matches the rules of origin.
If you have many different types of products that you want to export to the EU, it is important that you find out if they all are subject to preferential tariffs. For information about general tariffs that apply and if you can benefit from tariff preference, go to the the EU Trade Helpdesk-link at the bottom of the page.
To qualify for preferential tariff rates you need to follow the rules of origin, explained below.
Rules of Origin
Rules of origin are the criteria needed to determine the nationality of a product. It is of importance because the exported product may be applicable for reduced or no tariff at all, depending on which trade agreement your country has with the EU.
It is a specific set of rules that describe the product's origin. The two main types of origin criteria are:
- Goods wholly obtained in a non-EU country: products that are produced/processed only in the beneficiary country and without incorporating materials from any other country. This includes plants, minerals or live animals, among other products.
- Goods sufficiently transformed in a non-EU country: products which were produced with materials of other countries, or was partially processed abroad. There are three basic criteria used to determine if a product was sufficiently transformed in the beneficiary country.
- The value-added rule: a certain percentage of value must be added to the product in the country of export. This means that the value of all the materials used cannot exceed a certain percentage of the (ex-work) price of the product.
- Change of tariff classification: a product has, during manufacture, changed classification from the heading the materials had from the beginning.
- Manufacture from certain products: refers to specific processes that needs to be completed in order to decide origin. This rule specifically outline what process or input must be used in the making of a specific product. This criteria is often associated with steel, textile and apparel goods.
Even if a product is originating from the exporting country, its origin still needs to be verified in order to get reduced or fully removed tariff. This can be done with a document called proofs of origin which the relevant authority in the exporting country issues.
Worth mentioning is that many countries have implemented the Registered Exporter System, REX, which is a system of self-certification of origin of their goods. This system simplifies the process for the exporter because instead of asking their authority for the proofs of origin, they can issue it themselves through this system.
Which documents do you need to prepare?
It is very important that before the time of export you have talked to the EU importer in order to know which document you need to prepare. Below, we have made a list of documents that may be relevant for you. However, please note that it is not exclusive.
- Export declaration - An export declaration is a form that is submitted by an exporter at the place of export. It provides information about the shipment, including type, number, and value. This information is used by customs to collect possible export duties, control exports, and compile statistical information about a country's foreign trade.
- Commercial invoice - The commercial invoice is a record or evidence of the transaction between the exporter and the importer. Once the goods are delivered, the exporter issues a commercial invoice to the importer in order to charge him for the goods.No specific form is required. The commercial invoice is to be prepared by the exporter and submitted in the original with a copy enclosed.
- Packing list - A packing list is a commercial document that accompanies a commercial invoice and transport documents.It identifies packing information in respect to piece count, dimensions and weight per package etcetera. The packing list is required for customs clearance as physical validation of the commercial invoice.
- Freight Insurance - Insurance is very important when it comes to transportation of goods because of their exposure during handling, storing, loading or transporting cargo. The transport or freight insurance is a contract in which the risks are covered, as well as fixed compensation and repair.
However, the transporter’s insurance is specified by different regulations depending on the means of transport:
- road freight
- rail carrier
- shipping company
- air carrier.
Phytosanitary certificate – If you are planning to export plants or plant products to the EU, you will most likely need to have an official phytosanitary certificate accompanied with your shipment. The document certifies that the conditions of your plants and plants products complies with statutory requirements for entry into the EU, and is free of quarantine pests and other harmful pathogens.
A national authority in the country of export issues the document. The certificate will be made out no sooner than 14 days prior the date of export. When a shipment from a third country arrives in the EU, there will be compulsory inspections.
Plant health and biosecurity on the EU Commission website
Sanitary requirements on the EU Trade helpdesk website
Health certificate for animal products - Health certificate must accompany all types of animal products when arrived to the EU. An official veterinarian, of the competent authority in the exporting third country, must guarantee that the conditions for import into the EU have been met. The veterinarian must sign the document.
Upon arrival in the EU, the animal products and the accompanying certificates must be verified and checked by EU official veterinarians at a designated border inspection post.
Please visit the European Commission website on animal products.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) – If you intend to export certain species of animals and plants, and products made from these species, that may be considered as endangered you must consider the CITES-requirements. Some species are prohibited to import into the EU, other must be accompanied by specific export and/or import certificates.
Please visit the EU Commission website or CITES
Certificate of Origin – This document is to determine the origin of the products in the shipment. The document provides the possibility for the products to be exported at a reduced or zero tariff rate.
Are the logistics in place?
The importance of logistics in the export business can arguably be one of the most important aspects in your relationship with your EU importer. Both parties want the shipment to be on time, within agreed budget and in the same condition as it left the country of export.
Some buyers may be willing to pay some costs, for example freight costs. However, they expect you to find the routes and best rates. If you are not sure on how to handle logistics, it may be a good idea to hire a logistics agent that can help you.