Duties and taxes are imposed to generate revenue, protect local industries against foreign competition or both. The duties and taxes normally must be paid before the goods are released from customs. A shipment's duty and tax amount may be based on:

  • Product value
  • Trade agreements
  • Country of manufacture
  • Use of product
  • The product's Harmonized System (HS) code


Customs officials assess duties and taxes based on information provided on the air waybill, the commercial invoice and other relevant documents.

Please note: Duties and taxes on International shipments will be billed automatically to the recipient. As per the contract of carriage with DHL Parcel UK, the shipper is ultimately liable for any duties and taxes assessed on the shipment. If the recipient refuses the package or the recipient refuses to pay for duties and taxes, the shipper will be billed for duties and taxes.

Commodity descriptions 

Duties and taxes, and other customs fees may be assessed based on the contents of your shipment. Accurate descriptions of shipment contents are not only required for this purpose, but are essential for timely customs clearance. A consistent and detailed description of your shipment contents on all documents will help reduce customs delays.

Tariff tables are based primarily on three factors, so ensure that all three are clearly addressed in your commodity description:

  • What is it?
  • What is it made from?
  • What is the intended use?

Be specific. "Metal parts for hydraulic valves" is better than "machine tools." Also, use generic names, in addition to trade names. Don’t just say "Parts", say something like "Two steel springs for woodworking machine".

Including the product's Harmonized System (HS) code will further help customs officials properly assess your shipment and move it through the customs clearance process more quickly.

Bear in mind that some countries charge fees for clearing personal effects], and in some cases charge duties on them - especially those which aren’t used.

Tax and customs considerations for countries outside the EU

Taxes and duties are currently only due on goods sent to countries outside of the European Union. For more information, please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website based on the country you’re sending to. We’ve included some of our most popular International destinations here for your convenience:



Every country has different tax and customs requirements and regulations – some of which will need a fee or admin charge - usually to be paid by the recipient. This is important to consider so the signee (recipient) is prepared to pay for any charges that arise before their parcel can be delivered.

Tax and duties for EU countries

The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020, entering in to a transition period until 31st December 2020. The transition period allows time for the UK and EU to negotiate trade deals, while businesses prepare for the planned changes.

During the transition period, the UK remains part of The EU Customs Union and single market. This means that when you send a parcel to a country in the EU, your recipient will not need to pay duties and taxes. However following the transition period, taxes and duties may be due on parcels sent to European countries as well.