How-to: export customs clearance documentation

David Rae

Now the UK is its own Customs Territory, outside of the EU, all exports and imports are subject to customs documentation and possible checks. This means two customs clearances are needed for every shipment – for example, exporting from the UK to France means customs documents will be required on UK export and France import. It’s really important these declarations are correct because they affect the amount of VAT and duties which may be payable – and any errors could cause delays or result in a fine.

The export customs clearance document is also known as an SAD (single administrative document) or EAD (export accompanying document). You need to provide your freight forwarder with documentation that enables the EAD to be created and completed. In turn, the EAD creates the EXS (exit summary document), which allows your goods to be shipped.

Here’s a reminder of everything that’s needed for your customs clearance documents to be created:

Exporter and importer details

  • Your EORI number beginning with GB
  • Your EU importer’s details:
    • EORI number. This will begin with their country code, so if they’re in Germany, DE, France, FR, etc.
    • Address and contact details
    • Who their customs clearance broker is and the location EU import customs clearance will take place. Our partner, Gerlach, operates in 27 countries, meaning we’re well placed to help you with customs clearance both in the UK and EU.
  • Northern Ireland: you need an EORI number beginning with XI

Commodity codes

  • The commodity codes of your goods affect whether duties are payable or not – and if so, the rate of duty
  • Therefore it’s really important they’re always accurate


Statement of Origin

  • Where goods are from affects how much duty is payable – are they subject to WTO rates of duty or preference rates? Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, UK origin or UK/EU mixed origin goods imported into the EU are duty free.
  • Every export consignment needs one, and it’s the exporter’s responsibility to provide it.
  • Read our blog post on rules of origin for more information and to see sample documents.

Commercial invoice

  • Click here to see a sample. This must include:
    • Invoice number
    • Date
    • Exporter name, address and EORI number
    • Invoice address
    • Importer name, address and phone number
    • Incoterms
    • Name and date of trade contract
    • Payment terms
    • Item details:
      • Description
      • Country of origin
      • Gross weight AND nett weight – it’s important both are provided
      • Commodity codes
      • Quantity
      • Unit price AND total price – it’s important both are provided
      • Total value of goods
    • Insurance costs
    • Freight cost
    • Total for payments
    • Gross weight total
    • Signature

Packing list

Customs procedure codes

  • Click here to read about different options for your consignment if you don’t want it in free circulation straight away.


  • DAP shipments:
    • Letter appointing a direct customs agent
    • Location of destination customs clearance
      • Will the goods be discharged immediately or placed in a facilitation such as a temporary warehouse?
      • Will the goods be discharged at the entry port, final destination or another location?
  • DDP shipments:
    • Letter appointing an indirect customs agent
    • Power of attorney/ appointment needed for fiscal representation

If you have all of this information and it’s correct, you’ll be well-placed for your customs clearance documents to be generated, keeping your goods moving.

Grace Reddish

2023 AEO audit

We continue to be AEO accredited!  We’re proud to have maintained our AEO accreditation in both Customs Simplification and Security and Safety for another year

Read More »