After 31 December 2020, it is likely that you will need to provide additional Customs declaration information when shipping to Europe. Nearer to this date, our shipping systems will be updated to allow you to enter additional information when placing an international booking.
In this guide, we outline the changes you may see following Brexit and how you can start to gather information straight away to ensure you are prepared.
Brexit - what's happened so far?
At the end of last year, UK Government MPs agreed to the Prime Minister’s new Brexit deal.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, entering into a transition period until 31 December 2020.
During this transition period, the UK remains part of The EU Customs Union and single market with no requirement for Customs declarations for cross border movements between the UK and EU.
It remains possible the UK will still leave under a ‘no-deal’ scenario (i.e. trading under WTO rules) if a Trade Agreement is not agreed by the end of the transition period.
What changes will you see?
Following 31 December 2020, it will still be quick and easy to book shipments to Europe on DHL Parcel UK. The biggest change you may see when sending parcels to Europe, is that you may need to fill in a commercial or pro-forma invoice.
This is a customs declaration which allows your parcel to pass through borders between countries. A commercial invoice is needed when your parcel contains items which have a commercial value, whereas a pro-forma invoice is needed when sending gifts or personal belongings.
If you currently ship items outside of Europe, you will already be familiar with this process. However, if commercial or pro forma invoices are new to you – don’t worry, it is quick and easy to do on DHL Parcel UK.
Simply fill in the DHL Parcel UK International booking form and we’ll use the information you provide to generate either a commercial or pro-forma invoice (depending on the items you are sending). You then just need to print the invoice and shipping label and affix both securely to your parcel. .
How to fill in the booking form
The commercial or pro-forma invoice is used by customs officials so it is important that you complete the booking form accurately in order to avoid delays.
To help you to do this, we provide more information on each section below:
1. Sender contact details
Please provide your name, address and telephone number - this will allow us to contact you should there be an issue with your shipment.
2. Recipient contact details
You will need to provide the recipient's address, email address and telephone number when sending items to the EU.
3. VAT status
Complete your VAT status and if you are VAT registered, give your VAT number.
4. Reason for export
Select a reason why you are sending the parcel from the drop-down list provided.
5. Country of origin
This is the country where the item was originally manufactured, produced or grown. If you are unsure, this information can usually be found on the label of clothes and food products or the base of toys and electrical equipment. If multiple items are in your shipment, you will need to provide a country of origin for each item.
6. Number of units
List the items in your shipment and the number of each, for example, 3 dresses, 2 t-shirts and 1 pair of socks.
7. Unit value
Give an approximate value for each item you are sending in GBP. This will be used to calculate duty.
8. Product description
Your product description should be as detailed as possible to avoid the parcel being held by customs. You will need to include: the type of product, material used to make it, production method and what it will be used for.
We give some examples of acceptable and unacceptable product descriptions below:
Example product descriptions
Bad product descriptions
Good product descriptions
Men's knitted jumper, 70% cotton, 30% polyester
HP Pavilion 14-ce1509sa 14" Intel Core i3 Laptop
Ladies leather shoe
Possible additional fields
Following 31 December 2020, you may need to provide additional information about your shipment, including an EORI number and Commodity Codes. Once we have political clarity, the booking form will be updated in order to allow you to enter this additional information.
EORI number (business senders only)
EORI stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification. An EORI number is currently needed to import or export items outside of the EU so this field already exists within our International booking form, under 'VAT status'. After 31 December 2020, it is likely that UK businesses will also need an EORI number for shipments to and from the EU.
We recommend that all business senders register for an EORI number as soon as possible to be prepared for the event of a No-deal Brexit. It is quick and simple to register and is completely free. Visit the HMRC website: gov.uk/eori – and fill in a VAT registered form or a Non VAT registered form depending on your VAT status.
Note, this will be an optional field as it only needs to be filled in by our business senders. If you are a personal sender then you should leave this field blank.
Commodity codes (also known as HS codes) are used to classify products. This information is used by officials at customs clearance points across the world. By using a number to describe what is in a shipment, it removes issues associated with vague descriptions and language barriers.
If you are a business, you can start to classify your product catalogue with commodity codes now by following the instructions below:
a. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff
b. Enter the search term. Note, the item may not be listed by name, it may come under what it is used for or made from.
c. You will be given a number of suggested sections.
d. The heading in each chapter describes a product. Only select a sub-heading if your item is accurately described.
e. If your item is not accurately described, check further down the list. If none of the sub-headings match your item use the ‘other’ heading.
What does this mean for business senders?
Make sure your business is ready for these potential changes by following the below steps:
1. Register with HMRC for your EORI number
2. Classify each of your products with a commodity code
3. Ensure product descriptions are detailed and relate to a commodity code
4. Ensure you have accurate addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers for all recipients
What does this mean for personal senders?
After 31 December 2020, you will still be able to ship items to the EU. However, you may need to provide a bit more information about your shipment when booking.
The biggest potential change for personal senders is the addition of a commodity Codes field to the international booking form. If this comes into effect, you will need to visit: gov.uk/trade-tariff to find out the code for the item you are sending.
If you should require any further assistance, please get in touch with our Customer Service team.