Proof of export when selling goods overseas

ShippingWhen a UK business sells goods overseas, to avoid charging UK VAT, the UK business must obtain and keep proof of export (also called ‘evidence of removal from the UK’).

HMRC recommend:

“A combination of these documents must be used to provide clear evidence that a supply has taken place, and the goods have been removed from the UK:

  • the customer’s order (including customer’s name, VAT number and delivery address for the goods);
  • inter-company correspondence;
  • copy sales invoice (including a description of the goods, an invoice number and customer’s EC VAT number etc.);
  • advice note;
  • packing list;
  • commercial transport document(s) from the carrier responsible for removing the goods from the UK, for example an International Consignment Note (CMR) fully completed by the consignor, the haulier and signed by receiving consignee;
  • details of insurance or freight charges;
  • bank statements as evidence of payment;
  • receipted copy of the consignment note as evidence of receipt of goods abroad; and
  • any other documents relevant to the removal of the goods in question which you would normally obtain in the course of your intra-EC business.

Photocopy certificates of shipment or other transport documents are not normally acceptable as evidence of removal unless authenticated with an original stamp and dated by an authorised official of the issuing office.”

A minimum amount of proof is not specified, but as the UK business would be liable to pay any VAT that should have been charged, it is in the business’s interest to obtain as much evidence as possible.

The evidence should be kept for 6 years.