How to export to new markets

Developing your export business requires a wide range of skills.

As businesses seek to boost their exports while coping with Brexit and COVID-19, there is much work to do if the UK is to become an export superpower.

While you must embrace uncertainty in the hunt for new markets, there is help available.

Market research

To give yourself the best chances of successfully exporting overseas, you'll need to research the markets that you intend to penetrate.

You can get information from a variety of online sources, including the following:

  • The Department for International Trade has information on countries and sectors.
  • The Institute of Export has helpful information on how to do market research.
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce can also provide advice and help on international trade.
  • You can contact your industry trade association, as well as business organisations such as the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and the FSB (Federation for Small Businesses).
  • There are also specialist business organisations focused on facilitating trade and investment between the UK and major, fast-growth markets, such as The UK-India Business Council and the UK-ASEAN Business Council.

You can also conduct in-market research to obtain tailored information on the marketplace.

It may also be useful to obtain legal advice from a law firm that has knowledge of your intended market and its local laws.

Law Donut provides an overview of the sort of issues you may encounter.

Get export finance

Having the right finance in place to support your export efforts is important. 

Learn more about export finance.

UK Export Finance

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works alongside the Department for International Trade to support your export business.

It can be beneficial in three ways:

  • it can provide attractive financing terms to your buyers
  • it supports working capital loans to enable UK exporters to take on and fulfil orders
  • it offers insurance against buyers defaulting on payments.

Learn more about UKEF.

Export procedures

Being familiar with the procedures, documentation, and logistics involved in exporting to your chosen market is also important.

The websites of the Department for International Trade and the British Chambers of Commerce provide practical guidance on international trade matters.

Guidance for specific industry sectors

The UK Government has put out broad guidance for the following sectors of the economy:

UK Export Academy

From introductory sessions to specific sector workshops, the UK Export Academy has hours of content available for smaller businesses from across the UK.

Whether you’re brand new to exporting, or looking for a refresher, by signing up to the UKEA you can customise your programme with workshops that suit you.

the UKEA beginner modules are repeated across the year, so you can sign up to as many as you like at the pace that works for you.

Foundation course: UKEA beginner modules will introduce you to key exporting basics, including how to create an export action plan, identify your target audience, conduct market research, understand customs documentation, export services overseas, and much more

Masterclasses: intermediary modules explore specialised areas of interest in more detail. From opportunities in specific markets to sector-focused workshops, they'll give you all the practical advice and tips relevant to your chosen area. These workshops are ideal for businesses who have already started exporting and are looking for growth in specialist markets or sectors.

Opportunities: UKEA market modules bring in the knowledge and guidance from UKEA international colleagues. Discover opportunities in markets of interest, including the benefits of new free trade agreements.

Accessing the UKEA is free to businesses and is fully funded by the Department for International Trade.

Sign up on the Department for International Trade website.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

Making business finance work for you

Our Making business finance work for you guide is designed to help you make an informed choice about accessing the right type of finance for you and your business.

Read the guide to making business finance work for you

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