How do I find out which documents are needed for a given country?

Sandra Strong is one of the founding partners of Strong and Herd LLP, a widely respected import/export consultancy, and has nearly 30 years’ experience in international trade. She was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Export (IoE) in 2011 for services to UK companies. She is also a Certified International Trade Advisor and a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Here she talks through using the Market Access Database.

To find out which documents are needed for customs clearance in the country you’re exporting to, it is worth checking out the Market Access Database (or MADB).

This is a regularly updated database for companies exporting from the EU with all the documentation requirements listed according to the country you’re exporting goods to and the type of goods they are.

MADB is a great resource for UK small businesses who are exporting internationally for the first time. It’s very easy to use as well, helping you get what you need for customs clearance in a few clicks.

documents for customs clearance

For example, let’s say you are exporting guitars to Australia.

On the MADB homepage, select “Procedures and Formalities”:


Select Australia from the country drop down list:


Enter your product’s Harmonised code (if you don’t know it, hit “find code”) and hit “Search”:

madb 3

It then comes up with “Country overview” which includes up to date information on customs procedures, export controls and various other important issues. The documentation you need is the centre column under “General requirements”.

MADB also gives you access to up to date information on tariffs and statistics for your destination country.

It’s a very worthwhile free resource that has essentially everything you need for customs documentation in the one place.

You can also find out documentation requirements through the Chamber of Commerce, export guides, and from subscriptions such as Croner.

For more information on the shipping process in general, either read this article on shipping your first order or view this video by HMRC on the export process.

Topics: Customs Procedures, Documentation, Export Process, and Legislation & Regulation
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