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Everything You Need to Know About International Shipping From the UK

If you are looking for a guide to international shipping, then you have come to the right place. Read on for everything you need to know about international shipping from the UK.

1. The UK has two standards for exports.

As a member of the European Union (EU), the UK has specific export controls and standards for other EU countries, and then different ones for exporting to nations outside of the EU, which are referred to as “third countries.”

When packages exit the UK to go directly to these countries, the process is called a “direct export.” If products first go to another EU country and then are sent outside of the EU, it is known as an “indirect export.” We provide courier from Singapore to India services very fast.

Depending on whether the goods are remaining in the EU or are headed outside of it, documentation requirements will differ. For example, indirect exports must have an export accompanying document (EAD), whereas direct exports don’t require such paperwork. Similarly, most packages being exported within the EU goods don’t even need an export declaration.

On the other hand, if a package is being shipped directly to a third country, an electronic export declaration must be made; otherwise, customs service will not release it. In many cases, these export declarations for international shipping from the UK must be made in advance of specific deadlines. These deadlines include:

  • For deep-sea containerized cargo: Export declarations must be submitted 24 hours before they are due to be loaded on the vessel.
  • For short-sea containerized cargo: Export declarations must be submitted no later than two hours before they are due to leave port.
  • For non-containerized cargo: Export declarations must be submitted no later than two hours before the vessel is due to depart.
  • For airfreight: Export declarations must be lodged no later than 30 minutes before the aircraft departs.

2. The UK is not too restrictive concerning exports.

In comparison to many other countries, the UK is not too restrictive about exports. However, some specific regulations are placed on certain goods. These may also be controlled through licensing. Commodities that are regulated or controlled include:

  • Military products
  • Agricultural products and processed foods
  • Antiques
  • Controlled drugs or their component materials
  • Dangerous chemicals

3. Shipping from the UK is extremely popular.

Without a doubt, the majority of the UK’s shipping exports head to the United States. This ensures that the ocean routes between the two countries remain some of the busiest in the world.

Five of the most popular routes for international shipping from the UK are Southampton to Le Havre (France), Felixstowe to Savannah (United States), Southampton to Rotterdam (Netherlands), Felixstowe to Baltimore (United States), and Felixstowe to Norfolk (United States).

When it comes to shipping transit times, the shortest routes are from Southampton, Felixstowe, and London Gateway and to Le Havre (France), Antwerp (Belgium), and Rotterdam (Netherlands).

In fact, massive container ships are able to make these short journeys across the English Channel in one day. On the other end of the spectrum, the longest transit times are those going from the UK to Australia and New Zealand. The journey from London Gateway Port to Adelaide (Australia) can take almost 50 days.

When considering exporting from the UK, you need to take into consideration the transit time. For certain shipments, ocean freight may be too slow. In that case, you may want to select air freight, which is more expensive, but also much quicker and ideal for time-sensitive or high-value goods.

4. Air freight is a lot quicker.

In some scenarios, air freight is better suited for your shipping needs. When it comes to the UK, the UK-USA trade lanes tend to be some of the busiest.

Five of the busiest air freight routes are London Heathrow to New York (United States), London Heathrow to Frankfurt (Germany), London Heathrow to Paris (France), London Heathrow to Los Angeles (United States), and London Heathrow to Chicago (United States).

Air freight from the UK to the EU is remarkably fast, with some of the shortest routes — such as London to Frankfurt (Germany) — taking less than an hour. This is why many companies rely so profoundly on air cargo services to move goods around Europe, as they know that customers will have their orders in their hands as soon as possible. If you are planning on exporting from the UK to other places in the EU, air freight can often be worth the extra expense.

The longest routes are to Australia and New Zealand, with the flight from Heathrow to Perth (Australia), taking around 17 hours. However, this is still much quicker than the same route done by shipping freight. Depending on what you are shipping, this could be an essential step to take, particularly if you are shipping high-end goods or perishables.

As exporting from the UK can be quite confusing, most people opt to work with the services of local freight companies or an online freight forwarder to ensure that they have the appropriate export declarations and documentation when required. Working with professionals also ensures that you choose the right type of transportation for your goods and that you are building a shipping strategy that seeks to boost your business.

Have you ever exported from the UK? Let us know in the comments below!


Paul Rehmet is the Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight. He is responsible for translating the company’s vision into an easy-to-use online freight platform for its customers. In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways.

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