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Parcel Delivery Help & FAQs

Customs & duties

Customs rules and regulations across the world are set by national governments, bodies like the European Union and the World Customs Organisation. We are bound by these rules, as are all of our competitors.

In brief, it is always your responsibility as the shipper to:

  • Ensure you do not send anything which is prohibited by law
  • Check you know any prohibitions and restrictions set by governments overseas for the types of goods you are shipping.
  • Complete and attach any necessary documentation required for customs clearance overseas. This will vary by country, and will depend on the types of goods you are sending.
  • Explain to overseas customers that their imported goods may well be subject to import duties and taxes which will need paying before parcels will be released for final delivery.

Exporting Worldwide

There are some rules and additional documentation that may apply to some EU and non-EU destinations alike, depending on what is being sent and to where. You need to know the regulations for your products in your chosen export markets.

Import licences

Certain goods being imported into some countries may require an import licence, imposed by the overseas government for a range of reasons including health and safety, import quotas and so on. We recommend that you check with the importer that licences have been obtained from the relevant government department before shipping any goods. Be aware that rules and regulations change all the time and it is your responsibility to check with your overseas customer that relevant licences have been granted.

Export licences

Certain goods being exported to some countries may require an export licence from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Attach it to the package in an envelope marked "Export Licence". A licence is usually valid for a single shipment, even if the value of the goods being sent are less than the amount specified on the licence. Different governmental departments have different export licence requirements; customers are advised to check with the relevant one for their goods.

Moving goods within the EU

Shipping goods within the EU is commonly known as "moving" rather than "exporting". This is because the EU is a single market – as such trade between the countries is easier and mainly without barriers. Shipping within the EU has fewer trade restrictions and no specific Customs documentation is needed (except the despatch pack and potentially some of the additional licences listed above). There are 25 EU members, plus 7 territories where we do not require customs declarations.

EU Member states

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portuga
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

EU Territories

  • Corsica
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily
  • Azores
  • Madeira
  • Balearics

Other territories

EU special territories (including the Channel Islands and the Canary Islands) and overseas territories linked to EU members (for example, the Falkland Islands) should be treated as non-EU destinations.

Exporting outside the EU

For all parcels going outside EU destinations, parcels will pass through customs procedures. The customs team overseas will make a judgement on whether any duties and taxes are applicable to the parcel, based on the information provided on the despatch pack and commercial invoice.

These charges are made up of:

  • Import duty – % charge on the declared value – this depends on the type of goods
  • Excise duty – % charge per kilo for perfumes, cigarettes and alcohol
  • Import VAT/taxes – VAT or import taxes at the prevailing rate in the destination country applicable on the total value and duties
  • Clearance fee – an administration charge to cover the costs of additional handling, administration, collection of monies etc

Export preferences

In order to help trade and the flow of some goods from the EU to non-EU destinations, there are some EU-wide preferential agreements on particular goods going to certain non-EU countries. When exporting to countries with which there is a trade agreement, items may be eligible for reduced duty rates or treatment free of duty. If so, you will need to complete a EUR1 or EUR2 Movement Certificate or include a specifically-worded Invoice Declaration. You should include the Movement Certificate (authenticated and stamped by HM Revenue & Customs) attached to the package in an envelope marked "EUR Movement Certificate". In some cases, a EUR2 Movement Certificate signed by the sender may be used.

Movement Certificates and Invoice Declarations

Some countries require certain goods to have a Certificate of Origin attached to the parcel. Turkey, for example, requires a certificate of origin for most types of goods, and Taiwan requires them for textiles and clothing. You need to make sure that you have checked with the local Chambers of Commerce who can advise on specifics.

Harmonised System (HS) Numbers

We advise including the World Customs Organisation 6 digit Harmonised System (HS) tariff number (commodity codes, tariff headings, tariff codes, or classification codes) for each type of good, along with details of the country of origin. This will aid customs authorities assess and charge appropriate duties and taxes. For assistance, HMCE's Tariff Classification Helpline gives verbal (non-legally binding) advice on 01702 366077.

VAT

Each item valued over £100 must carry a VAT Label 444 on the outside of the package. You can obtain these and VAT notices from your local Customs VAT office, or the HMRC National Advice Service.

Commercial invoice

When sending goods, other than samples, gifts and possessions to destinations outside the EU, 3 copies of a commercial invoice must accompany each package. The specific details required are:

  • 3 copies on company headed paper
  • Invoices must be typed and not handwritten
  • An original company stamp or original official signature on each one plus job title
  • Sender's name, address, postcode or zip code, country, telephone, fax, and a contact name
  • Recipient's name, address, postcode or zip code, country, telephone, fax and a contact name
  • Buyer's name, address, postcode or zip code, country, telephone, fax and a contact name
  • The VAT numbers of the sender and the buyer or declarations of non-VAT registration (as appropriate)
  • Date/Place
  • Invoice number and purchase order number (if applicable)
  • Terms of delivery (Incoterms)
  • For each type of good, number of units, the description, HS tariff number, country of origin, unit weight, unit value and total value
  • Total number of items, total weight and total value
  • Currency used
  • Shipping costs
  • Declaration that all invoice information is true and correct
  • Business registration details (if appropriate)