Key regulations for building / construction & property services businesses wanting to trade internationally


This guide provides an overview of the building, construction and property services sector, the key regulations you will need to comply with as an exporter or importer and selected sources of further help and support.

This guide also shows you how to comply with domestic regulations and tariffs and duties on imports.

Export regulations in the building, construction and property services sector

Regulations, charges or other restrictions may apply to export goods in the sector as they leave the UK and when they arrive at their destination country. It is important that you research both sides of the transaction.

For more information, see nibusinessinfo’s guides on exporting your goods from the EU to a third country and dispatching your goods within the EU.

You need to be aware of procedures and rules for the temporary export of construction equipment and tools of trade, selling services overseas and the ‘CE’ mark. See the pages within nibusinessinfo’s guide on specific rules for building, construction and property sector exports and temporary exports of construction equipment and tools of trade.

First, you need to classify your goods. Use of standardised classification codes makes it easier to check if any restrictions or charges apply. You can use the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom to classify your goods. For more information, see nibusinessinfo’s guide on the classification of goods.

For more information on how the Tariff is important to your export business, see nibusinessinfo’s guide for an introduction to the Tariff.

You can find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing our free online UK Trade Tariff.

Find out how to classify your goods on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website.

Remember that in general it is much simpler to trade with other European Union (EU) countries than with countries outside the EU. This is because the goods are in free circulation. The EU is a single market and the UK is in a customs union, so you can trade with other EU countries without restriction (although some local charges may still apply).

HMRC runs the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) scheme for businesses. While the scheme is not compulsory, companies that meet the requirements will be registered as AEOs and can take advantage of simplified customs procedures that relate to the security and safety of their goods in transit. Read our guide on authorised economic operators.

Export licensing and certification

An export licence is required in order to export specified goods and technology that may have a dual use (in other words goods and technology which may have both civil and military applications). You may require an export licence for goods with a potential military use – such as steel tubes or some building plans. You may also need a licence to export services, such as fulfilling a contract to build a military installation abroad. To find out more about strategic export controls, see nibusinessinfo’s section on the Export Control Organisation.

Email the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) Export Control Organisation for help at

For information on export licences, read nibusinessinfo’s guide on Do you need an export or import licence.

Controls apply to the brokering – which can include warehousing and shipping – of dual-use goods. For clarification, download guidance on trade of dual-use items from the BIS website (PDF, 168K).

Export regulations for services

Services in this sector have different tax and export regulations. These rules depend on the country of export, and you may find that procurement and employment regulations also vary. You should check with your customer or the relevant authority representing the destination country. Find a list of international Chambers of Commerce in the UK on the British Chambers of Commerce website.

The EU Services Directive applies to service exports in Europe. While you have obligations, such as providing information about your business to consumers, the burden of other regulations has eased. For example, you typically will not need work permits for your non-EU staff working temporarily in another country as long as your non-EU staff already have work permits from one EU country.