Country Facts
65.1 Million (2018)*
English (British)
Pound Sterling (£)

*Source: The CIA World Factbook

Trade Indicators
5th largest export market for U.S. goods
3rd largest e-commerce market in the world
5th largest economy in the world
Top export market for U.S. services worldwide

Top B2C Cross-Border E-Commerce Opportunities
British Tea Cup

81% of UK population shops online.  Consumers in the UK spent $197 billion online in 2017, with an average spend per shopper estimated at $5,900.  Consumer e-commerce now accounts for about one quarter of the total retail market in the UK. UK consumers among 25- to 34-year-olds were most inclined to buy physical goods on overseas sites. Consumer goods include:

  • Pet care products
  • Fashion, health and beauty
  • Home and garden

Top B2B E-Commerce Export Opportunities
London Arch

B2B e-commerce is not as prevalent as B2C or C2C e-commerce in the UK.  Many large companies have online procurement portals, but these are not open platforms.  B2B e-commerce platforms are emerging, however, and these will become a facilitator of both domestic and international business.

  • Automobile and aftermarket parts
  • Electronics, smartphones, circuits, and micro assemblies
  • Pharmaceuticals

Trade Regulations & Customs Information

Import Tariffs: Customs duty is assessed on the fair market value of imported goods at the time they are landed in the UK. Import prices for products entering the UK from non-EU states generally consist of: Cost, Insurance, Freight and Duty, with VAT of 20% levied on the aggregate value. The commercial invoice value is usually accepted as the normal price, but if a preferential arrangement has been established between the overseas supplier and the importer, or an unrealistic value has been declared, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reserves the right to assess a fair market value for duty purposes. The duty is payable at the time the goods are imported, but established importers can defer payment for, on average, 30 days.

Customs Regulations: The documents required for shipments include the commercial invoice, bill of lading or airway bill, packing list, insurance documents, and, when required, special certificates of origin, sanitation, ownership, etc.

A copy of the commercial invoice should accompany the shipment to avoid delays in customs clearance. It is worth noting that imprecise descriptions are a common reason for goods being held without customs clearance, meaning that a clear description of the goods is essential and should be worded in such a way as to describe the goods to an individual who may not necessarily have an understanding of a particular industry or article. A clear description of goods should satisfy three basic questions as to what the product is, for what is it used, and of what it is made.

No special form of invoice is required, but all of the details needed to establish the true value of the goods should be given. At least two additional copies of the invoice should be sent to the consignees to facilitate customs clearance. Consular documents are not required for shipments to the UK.

Export Controls: Most export transactions do not require specific approval in the form of licenses from the U.S. Government. It is up to the exporter to determine whether the product requires a license and to research the end use of the product.

Source: The International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce www.export.gov

Related Content