There’s only so much room for a business to expand in the UK or Ireland – and so if you want your company to succeed, you’re going to have to look overseas. But doing business abroad isn’t always cheap.
According to the Confederation of British Industry, companies are 11% more likely to succeed if they choose to do business with other countries. Yet your products will be subject to huge import fees and domestic government duties in a vast majority of these new markets. Even if you’re importing, you’ll be subject to several different taxes. Those costs might not seem huge at first, but they all add up – and can ultimately prove a fatal blow if you’re only just beginning to expand overseas.
Luckily, both the European Union and the UK government provide multiple duty relief schemes to help small businesses succeed abroad.
To help you get started, here are three of the easiest relief schemes to take advantage of:
1. Trade preference agreements
Thanks to various pieces of EU legislature that have cropped up over the past few years, exporting to other European countries has become a fairly painless process. Yet there’s plenty of red tape and silly fees that hinder your success in non-EU countries. Luckily, the UK and Ireland have got access to various trade preference agreements with several key economies.
In essence, if the EU has got a Free Trade Agreement in place with another country, your company can claim duty relief through a “trade preference”. Consequently, you should be paying little to no duty on the products you export into those markets. Each discounted preference rate will depend on a number of criteria – such as the type of goods, country of origin and final destination.
In order to claim a trade preference, you must get the correct commodity code for your goods, ensure you’re complying with all rules of origin and provide proof of origin for your products.
2. Temporary admission
If you’re simply looking to test the waters with a new foreign market, you might be able to claim duty relief through temporary admission. Temporary admission is useful if you’re looking to bring items into the UK for a short period of time, and ensures that you do not have to pay any duty or import VAT on the products you have brought in.
Most companies claim temporary admission for items such as samples or professional equipment. You can also claim temporary admission if you’re importing items for auction, exhibition or short demonstration. So long as you do not fundamentally alter the goods while they are in EU territory, the scheme is fairly easy to capitalise upon.
One crucial caveat is that you cannot claim temporary admission if you are importing items for repair. But as with trade preference agreements, eligibility for relief is based almost entirely upon the type of products that you are importing – along with how you are using them before they are re-exported.
3. Outward processing
If your company is looking to capitalise upon cheap, skilled labour abroad, you might be able to claim duty relief under the EU’s Outward Processing Relief scheme. Outward processing enables EU companies to a full or partial export fee when they temporarily send goods from the EU for processing or repair in a non-EU country.
The policy was essentially brought into place so that EU businesses could benefit from cheaper labour costs or technical skills that aren’t available within the EU. So long as the goods you export to these countries are brought back into the EU, you will then benefit from full or partial duty relief upon their re-entry. It’s worth pointing out that this relief scheme does not apply to many agricultural-based businesses.
Sometimes, it may seem like the government is trying to hinder international business with red tape. But the truth is, there are dozens upon dozens or relief schemes out there designed to foster small-scale trade – you just have to know where to look.
Bearing that in mind, if you are thinking of taking your company to the next level by launching a new export scheme, don’t let sky-high duties deter you. No matter what type of business you’re in, there should be a duty relief scheme that will help your business find international success.