So, you’ve sourced your product and identified your potential customers. How do you go about organising the transport and distribution of one to the other?

If you’re new to importing or exporting, the process can see quite daunting. We are often asked:

  • How do I bring my goods into the UK?
  • How do I export products to other countries?
  • Which parts of the journey do I need to organise?
  • What paperwork will I need?
  • What will it cost?

How to get an accurate quote

AFS Global have supported new importers and exporters for many years and in fact, some of our largest and longest serving clients started off with AFS when they imported for the first time.

Any of the AFS Global team would be delighted to talk you through the process but you’ll find more resources here, as well as a glossary.

Considerations when trading overseas for the first time

Inco terms

Inco terms are a globally recognised set of terms that set out who (the buyer or the seller) has responsibility for and will pay the costs of the movement of the cargo as it goes from origin to destination.

Understanding these terms are the foundation of importing or exporting your products. Picking the wrong term can result in hidden costs, delays to moving your goods and unhappy suppliers and customers.


Before starting to move your goods, it essential to establish the total size and weight of your shipment. This will enable your forwarder to provide accurate costs as much of the shipping world depends on how big and how heavy your cargo is. You’ll need to know how many boxes/cartons or pallets you have and how heavy each of these are. You can usually find this out from your supplier but, our “cubic calculator” may also be useful. [Link to cubic calc]

Origin, where is it coming from?

Which country are your goods being made in? Where is the factory located? Identifying in which country and where the goods will be made is key so that we can plan which is the best airport or seaport to use.

Destination, where are you delivering to?

Where are your customers based or where is your imported cargo going to? Do you have your own warehousing or distributor, or are you using a third party logistics partner? Ensuring you have a clear picture of the journey of the goods will enable you to look out for Customs and Excise rules in each territory.

Method of shipping?

Does your customer urgently needs your product? Is it dangerous or perishable? Are you looking for the lowest freight cost per unit to maximise your margin? Depending on how fast or how cost effective your movement needs to be will help determine the best mode to move them by. Air is quick but more expensive, sea is cheaper but typically has a longer transit time and road is cost effective but can have a limited reach.

What happens when it arrives?

Registration, Import Duty and Customs?

For help with any of the above, visit our resources page or, even better, give a member of the AFS team a call.

We’d be delighted to help.