CUSTOMS ADVICE & SUPPORT

AVOID DELAYS BY FILLING IN CUSTOMS FORMS CORRECTLY

If you are sending a parcel to a country outside the UK, you’ll need to provide a customs invoice with your parcel. Since the UK left the EU’s single market and customs union on 1st January 2021, this includes parcels sent to EU countries.

Our international booking form, includes a ‘Customs information’ section. This only takes a few minutes to complete and we’ll use the information you provide to generate a pro-forma or commercial invoice which will print with your shipping label.

In this guide, we outline each of the additional fields in our international booking form and the information you need to provide for each.





WHEN DO YOU NEED TO PROVIDE A CUSTOMS INVOICE?

 

If you are sending a parcel outside of the UK, you will need to provide a customs invoice with it. This tells customs officials in the destination country about the sender, recipient and what’s inside the parcel, and is used to calculate the amount of duties and taxes which need to be paid.

Before the UK left the EU’s customs union and single market, you only needed to provide a customs invoice when sending a parcel outside of the EU but since 1st January 2021, a customs invoice is also needed for all EU countries as well.




What’s the difference between a commercial and pro-forma invoice?


A commercial invoice is needed when you are sending goods outside the UK which have a commercial value. Alternatively, if you are sending a gift or a personal item, you will need to provide a pro-forma invoice. Don’t worry too much about the distinction between the two – we’ll automatically generate the correct type of invoice based on the information you provide when completing the booking form.




Duties and taxes


When the parcel arrives in the destination country, duties and taxes may be due. Customs officials will use the value, origin, description and tariff code to calculate the amount due so it’s important you fill in this information accurately.

Your recipient will receive a bill for the duties and taxes ddue on the shipment. However, as the sender you are ultimately liable and will be billed for duties and taxes should the recipient refuse the package or refuse to pay.

For more information, please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website and look up the country you are sending the parcel to.

There is a trade deal in place between the EU and UK which agrees to ‘zero custom duties’ – this means that you won’t need to pay duty on parcels sent to an EU country as long as the contents meets all the necessary ‘rules of origin’ requirements. However, VAT will still be charged according to the rate that applies in the destination country when value of the item sent is greater than 22 euros.




How to generate a customs document


As part of the booking process, you will need to provide the following information. This will then be used to generate a pro-forma or commercial invoice (depending on the type of items you are sending).

 

1. Sender details 

You will need to provide your full name, address and telephone number so we can get in touch with you should there be an issue with your shipment.

 

2. Recipient details 

In addition, please give the recipient’s name, address, email address and telephone number.

 

3. VAT status

There are 3 options to choose from: ‘Personal individual’, ‘Company-Non-VAT registered’ and ‘Company-VAT registered’. If you select ‘Company – VAT registered’, you will be asked for your VAT number so make sure you have this to hand.

 

4. EORI number

This field will only appear if you have selected ‘Company-VAT registered’ as your VAT status. If you are a business sender and don’t already have an EORI number, you can register for one on the HMRC website.

Please note, a special type of EORI number, known as an XI EORI number, is needed to send parcels to Northern Ireland. To obtain an XI EORI number, simply register with the Trader Support Service.

 

5. Recipient’s EORI / PID number – optional field

Recipient information, such as their Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) or Personal identification Number (PID), are recommended to support the import customs clearance process within the destination country. By providing this you will help avoid delays in clearance or possible additional fees where clearance cannot be started.

 

6. Reason for export

State the reason why you are sending the item. Possible reasons include: gift to recipient, sold item, returning item to retailer and item has been repaired by sender.

 

7. Country of origin

This is the country where the item was originally manufactured, produced or grown. It’s important you fill this in accurately and to the best of your knowledge.

If you are sending a parcel to an EU country, this information is needed to benefit from the EU-UK Trade Agreement of ‘zero tariff’ (zero customs duties).

 

8. Description

Make sure you give a detailed description as items with a vague description risk being held up in customs. Always include what the item is, what it is made from and what it will be used for. For example, instead of ‘Clothing’ the description should be ‘Men’s knitted jumper, 70% cotton and 30% polyester’.

 

9. Tariff code (or commodity code)

A commodity code is an 8-digit number used to classify traded products. The code tells customs officials in the destination country what’s inside your parcel and is used to calculate the duties to be paid.

In our booking form, we make it easier for you to find the tariff code you need by listing some of the most popular items which are sent through our network. All you need to do is select the item you are sending from this list and the tariff code field will auto-fill with the correct code. If your item does not appear in the list, select ‘Other’ and you will be taken the HMRC website to search for your item.

Alternatively, if you know the tariff code for the item you are sending, simply click ‘Enter manually’ and type the 8-digit code into the box.

Tariff code input

 

10. Value

A commodity code is an 8-digit number used to classify traded products. The code tells customs officials in the destination country what’s inside your parcel and is used to calculate the duties to be paid.

Provide an accurate value for the item you are sending. If there is one than one item, give an itemised list with a value for each item in the parcel.

 



AFFIX THE CUSTOMS INVOICE SECURELY TO YOUR PARCEL


Once you have paid for shipping, your label and 5 copies of the invoice will print out. You should attach all 5 copies to your parcel – we recommend using a clear plastic document wallet to waterproof and protect your documents. It’s also a good idea to put a copy of the invoice inside your parcel which the customs official can use should the outer copies get damaged or go missing.




Prohibited items


We have a general list of prohibited items for all international countries. Remember, this list isn’t exhaustive and each country has their own individual guidelines. If you are at all unsure about whether or not you can send an item, please refer to the destination country’s government page. If you send an item which is restricted either by DHL Parcel UK or the country you are sending to, you risk your parcel being returned and the cost being charged back to you.

 



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