When sending a parcel abroad there’s a few extra things you need to consider, including customs invoices, duties and taxes – but don’t let that put you off. Our simple international booking form walks you through each step so it’s as easy to send a parcel to New Zealand as it is to Newcastle.

In this guide, we outline each of the additional fields in our international booking form and the information you need to provide for each. We’ll use this information to generate a pro-forma or commercial invoice which will print with your shipping label. All you need to do is affix to your parcel.

When do you need customs information?


You currently only need to provide a customs invoice when sending a parcel to outside of the EU. However once the UK has left the EU, you will also need to provide this information when shipping to Europe as well. The information in a customs invoice is used by customs officials in the destination country and tells them about the sender, recipient and what’s in the parcel.

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

A commercial invoice is needed when you are sending goods 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 will be due. Customs officials will use the description of goods, value of goods and origin of goods 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 due 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.

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. EORI number

This is an optional field which only needs to be completed by our business senders. If you are a business sender and don’t already have an EORI number, you can register on the HMRC website.


4. 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’.


5. Value

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.


6. VAT status

VAT registered customers should put their VAT number in this field. Customers who aren’t VAT registered, should enter ‘GBUNREG’ instead.


7. 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.


8. Country of origin

This is the country where the item was originally manufactured, produced or grown.


Affix 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.