How to Import and Export Pharmaceutical Goods

Updated on November 14, 2022

Ever since the UK left the European Union, there have been tighter controls on all sorts of commodities entering and leaving the country. This includes pharmaceutical goods and other therapeutic items, such as blood products and medical devices. Nevertheless, the rules governing the movements of pharmaceuticals from and to Europe from the UK are not unlike those that apply when dealing with much of the rest of the world. Therefore, it is entirely possible for British importers and exporters to run a relatively slick operation when trading in pharmaceuticals. 

What do you need to do to make sure time-sensitive and often expensive orders are not held up unduly at the border? Read on to find out.

Customs Clearance Specialisation

Top of the list – whether you are importing or exporting – would be to retain the services of a customs clearance agent. Without one, you will need to deal with all of the importation and exportation paperwork yourself. HMRC now has a computerised system which definitely makes it easier to register imports and exports of things like drugs but you still need to make sure that the physical paperwork with goods matches the online declarations. 

In this regard, a customs broker or agent can be worth their weight in gold but only if they have prior experience with pharmaceuticals. Agents who mostly deal with cars or food products, for instance, probably won’t be au fait with the precise commodity codes you need for different classes of pharmaceutical products. This could cause hold-ups which would defeat the point of hiring a broker in the first place, of course.

Freight Forwarding Expertise

Not all pharmaceuticals have a short shelf life but some do. Indeed, some need to be moved in and out of the country at precisely controlled temperatures. Therefore, you may need specialist crates that help to maintain the temperature within shipping containers or you might even need a sprinter-style van with a chiller unit in operation for the entire journey. To ensure you get these logistical matters sorted out properly, use a freight forwarding firm. 

This way, whether the pharmaceuticals are conveyed for you door-to-door or as part of a wider cargo supply chain, you won’t end up with drugs past their use-by date once they arrive. According to Barrington Freight, a firm that combines customs clearance and freight forwarding work, many importers and exporters fail to make plans to avoid traffic delays. Simply by choosing a good freight forwarder to manage this aspect of logistics for you, it is possible to keep the flow of goods coming and going without expending a great deal of time and energy on it yourself.

Security Considerations

High-value pharmaceuticals can be targetted by criminal gangs. They can also be subject to accidental damage if they are not conveyed properly in suitably secure crates. Ideally, you will hire service providers with secure transit arrangements as well as ones who have the ability to track your shipments throughout the entire course of their journeys. This is especially important if you don’t want to lose your import or export licenses because of a perceived lax attitude to consignment security. In short, use specialist logistical firms, not ones used to handling general freight only.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.